I dropped the ball on a new year new me post, but who’s keeping track. Instead, I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge how much someone can change in a year when open to newness and saying yes. One year ago today, I would’ve called you crazy had you told me I would move to Washington. Or work for an investment firm, then quit. And then land my dream job at an adoption agency. Absolutely crazy.
But one thing hasn’t changed: my sentimentality. I would consider myself TOO sentimental for the state of the world. I hold onto trinkets from different memories and the memories themselves as if the minute I turn the page they will be gone. I realize I need to loosen my grip on the obvious: some moments, things, conversations are far better left where I found them.
My year is now spread out before me, like a manuscript I must now order the chapters of. Some chapters I know I can afford to cut down or get rid of altogether. As it goes in editing, you must kill your darlings. I don’t want to completely forget or kill off certain parts of my year -- I just know I can not let my own darlings, or the moments I find myself dwelling on, rule me.
So cheers to looking back and remembering the good things. The pretty things that often shadowed the hard things. The do-it-yourself-and-grow-things. I know I need to loosen my grip a little bit and that is often achieved by writing it down.
Here are the top 5 Lessons, Moments, Things of my year:
1. I do in fact have anxiety, but I won’t let it define me.
Enter the fresh, college graduate in January 2018. I was so set on not settling. I recently went through my inbox and discovered 42 rejection letters from dream jobs, writing submissions, and novel queries. I promise I have finally deleted them all, but they were often my motivation last year. But it was the constant rejection I felt for my art that sent me spiraling down the first time. I knew I had always dealt with anxiety, but not with something that I’d built as meticulously as my art. I swear I did not know how to deal with it until I moved to Washington. It took uprooting my whole life to figure out that not only was my anxiety such a tiny part of who I was, but how capable I was of conquering it day by day. I could never smash it entirely and forget it’s not there --I’m afraid that would be denying who I am. But I sure can be friends with it, and like any close friend, there are boundaries to be set.
2. Motivation is for suckers.
Running has always been a huge part of my life. I remember very clearly around mile 22 of the 2018 SLO Marathon asking myself a very brutal truth: how many times during training did I NOT want to run in the morning? Maybe 7 out of 10 times. But all of those mornings when I did not want to subject myself to nine to twelve miles of toughness were the mornings I needed to go the most. In fact, no matter what it’s been since I lived in SLO, all the days I wanted to shut my computer because the words wouldn’t flow, or stay in bed because it was raining, or not see anyone that day because my I wasn’t up to it, sometimes I just had to go through the motions to get my butt out the door. Maybe slip a quick pep talk in the bathroom mirror before being social. Some of my favorite memories happened just before I decided not to bail and show up. Keep showing up for the things, the people, the places that bring you joy and get you out of bed in the morning, that force you to grow, and that set your soul on fire (I owe you big time for this one, Jesus).
3. Emotions are fleeting -- use them wisely.
I know I am a bit out of touch with my anger and conflict resolution ability. It’s like my brain short-circuits when things might get exceptionally hard to resolve, especially between me and another person. You might find it surprising that I’ve reacted poorly to situations before (*I’ve been praised for my demeanor of steely calm). But I’ve hurt people with my anger and passivity because I am out of touch with it. It feels immature to write it down, but this has caused me to slam doors, go for stupid long runs, delete numbers in my phone, and watch Netflix until I’m numb. I’m a great avoider when it comes to tough things, hence the motivation paragraph above. Sometimes I choose to fall asleep to these emotions instead of addressing them because they made me want to hide under the covers. But I’ve figured out though that these emotions and fears are fleeting. When shit happens, it’s best to breathe -- just breathe. Hear the other person out, no matter the emotion I am feeling. Then let it calmly roll through me, acknowledge the anger, the fear, the sadness, and let it go. Even wave at those emotions as they pass by and wait for the joy to come next. Sorrow and joy come as a pair, and it’s only a matter of time before one fills the void. I found that reacting emotionally to tough things is a waste of emotion. I have the choice to feel it or not and I still have to ask myself, how will this benefit the situation? What resolution will come from slamming this car door -- none.
4. Life is short. The world is wide.
I’m going to keep this simple. I got a Southwest Rapid Rewards card and it’s been the best decision for my travel dreams I’ve ever made.
5. You need teammates.
It’s as simple as that -- you need those people in your corner. Whoever they are, you need a support system. I used to be so convinced that I was comfortable doing life by myself. Before I moved to Washington, my circle of friends was very small and I often did not feel the need to invest in them because I was also convinced I was going to be leaving. But the minute I moved here, to the beautiful PNW, I met people who reminded me of the friends I had in high school -- the people who would show up unannounced because they knew I needed them to, not because I asked. It must stem from my anxiety, but often I feel like I am annoying people when I try and make plans with them. It’s a deep-rooted thing that gnaws away at me. It’s an evil that’s convinced me sometimes that I am unworthy of their attention. But after moving to Vancouver, it was like Jesus was putting beauty in my path in the form of friends who genuinely wanted to know how I was doing. Everyday. It’s safe to say I was more than skeptical in the beginning. But over the course of the last six months, I have been welcomed at every table, hugged to the point of exhaustion, constantly had someone to share in the hard things, and felt almost unworthy of the blessing of true friendship. Almost.
So, what am I letting go of? Where do I need to loosen my grip?
I used to think I held onto people too tight, or lugged around too much sea glass from Carmel Beach, or couldn’t bare to let go of my love for remembering the stoke of each moment with hundreds of pictures.
It’s a new year and I think I need to keep my people closer than ever before, but not for the sake of loosing of them. I just never want to miss a single, beautiful thing about them. I’ll keep the sea glass and the stoke, too. Heck, Jesus wouldn’t let me loosen my grip on him if I tried. Everything else -- the anxiety, the fear, the fleeting emotions, the shallow interactions, all of the things that leave me lukewarm -- is window-dressing.