I’m in the process of cleaning out my Gmail drafts folder and I found this link tucked away in an unnamed draft from July 2013. I find Thought Catalog to be somewhat insufferable as of late but their earlier (2011 – 2012) stuff contains some select gems. This is one of them and it’s a special piece of writing, particularly since it’s 2 years later and I still enjoy it. Here’s an excerpt:
“You can set an alarm, mark it on a calendar, tattoo it on your skin and still the last time doesn’t need your permission. What you count on is that you have the power to end things, to label people ‘never again,’ to say farewell forever and mean it. What you count on is having a choice. But you don’t, and you’ll know that when you allow your heart to get broken again despite the protests you made and the caution you took.”
Well, it’s happened again. It’s been another year since the last life-altering event that made me ponder aloud: “I wonder where I’ll be a year from now.” That “event” this time being the loss of a job. I can’t even wrap my head around how much has changed. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to process what a year can bring. You’d think after doing it twenty-three times, I wouldn’t be so shell shocked. But, alas, cue the soundtrack of Rent and leave me and my nostalgia be. Here are some things I’ve learned this year:
1) Having money in the bank is vital. I will never again not have a nest egg or outstanding credit card debt. I recently paid off all my credit cards and it was the most exhilarated I’ve felt in months.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I was always someone who felt like I could do things on my own. I never had a problem asking for help on smaller scale things but I came across a lot of things this year that were too big to battle by myself. Whether it’s needing to talk to a doctor or asking a mentor for job advice, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be weak sometimes. It’s okay to fall down and say, “I can’t get up alone.”
3) Getting your heart ripped out and stepped on has one silver lining: it is a great diet. Getting dumped was a fantastic catalyst for going to the gym and eating better (well, slightly better…). Twenty-two pounds lighter than last year and still workin’.
4) Throwing yourself into your job is so worth it. I lost my best friend this year and that was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. That said, having an awesome company to spend 40+ hours a week in made things seem not so grim. Yeah, my coworkers don’t understand all my quirks just yet but they’re great people and the more I get to know them, the happier I find myself in the mornings on my way in to the office.
5) You can only ever trust yourself. This is a big one and I feel like I’m really only writing this out to remind myself because I so frequently forget it. There’s really no certainty in any facet of life and knowing that makes things complicated. I’ve always been an open and honest person and this year has just strengthened my desire to keep being that person. Between jobs and friends and boyfriends, I’ve learned that there’s always something someone’s not telling you and there’s always things going on behind closed doors.
6) Family is more important than anything else. This needs no explanation.
7) Love yourself. Now I know what you’re thinking. I know this is one of those clichéd #basic white girl things that’s used in fitness videos and tampon commercials. But after spending a year on a roller coaster of emotions, I can safely say that when all is said and done, you just have you. And if you don’t love who you are, how can you expect someone else to? I lost who I was this year. I was lucky enough to have had a very privileged childhood to early adulthood. This year showed me the only first-hand adversity I’ve ever known. Like a cold bucket of water to the face, I’m finally aware of how harsh life is. So, as trite as it sounds, I’m working on finding me again.
8) You have to let things go. This is another one I’m writing more as a reminder than as a thing I’ve newly learned. I feel things on a massive scale and I hold on to them because I love being passionate. I’ve learned this year that you can’t let the things you can’t change get to you because they will eat you alive. As the hardest lesson I’ve learned this year, I’m still working on this but, hey, maybe next year I’ll be an expert.
Posted in Essays, Life, Writing
Tagged a year in the life, advice, awkward, corgi gifs, corgis, essays, exercise, family, gifs, harry potter, harry potter gifs, help, hermione, jenna hamilton gifs, keeping up with the kardashians, kim kardashian, kim kardashian gif, let it go, life, lion king, mad men, office gifs, real housewives, real housewives gif, rent, seasons of love, the office, things i learned, writing
We grew up in an age where the American dream meant you followed a specified list and ticked the items off one-by-one, in the appropriate order. We were told that we would walk tall off our college campuses with our freshly inked degrees. We would accept the job offer that would inevitably come our way. We’d get married and have kids and then, after thirty years at the same company, we’d retire. The picket fence we would build to contain our succinct lives would chip and falter over time but it would be physical proof that we “made it.”
We don’t live in that world anymore. The colleges became more selective. What was once a choice became whatever we could get. Those degrees became overwrought, expensive pieces of paper indicating less about knowledge and more about pedigree. The job offers for postgrads that once gushed from the proverbial firehose became infrequent droplets from a shower head that is now all but dry. The divorce rate has skyrocketed and accepting that you’ll have a “first wife” or a “second husband” has devolved from being the idea of a cynic to being that of a realist.
This world for us “in-betweeners,” us “pseudo-adults,” is alien and terrifying. The 23-year-olds of yesteryear were self-sufficient, level-headed, and guided. Those 23-year-olds would scoff at us. Our better-educated, more driven, and dream-laden selves would probably look like bumbling infants to them. We are standing on the precipice of a world our predecessors could have never imagined. We straddle this strange border between knowing enough to start our lives but not enough to establish who we are. We have the trust of our elders but not the faith.
In the year since I’ve graduated, I’ve lost more than I ever thought I would. I’ve lost jobs and friends and lovers and confidence and, above all, myself. I no longer recognize myself when I look in the mirror every morning. I go through the motions of my day. I laugh and I cry and I ponder and I yell and I wait. I wait until my life feels like it’s my own and it’s one that I’m proud to identify with. I wait for the day when I know what it is that I want to identify with.
“We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It’s easy. The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven’t even met yet, probably. They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you’ll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there’s still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these lovable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.”
— Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story
Posted in Essays, Life, Writing
Tagged acceptance, chuck klosterman, future love, killing yourself to live, life, lost love, love, relationships, romance, self-destructive