Maybe I’m doing too much. Maybe my overcrowded schedule is a reflection of the chaos inside. I ride the tension between the high expectations of people I love and/or respect and my own desire to just be accepted for whatever it is that I am.
I take kickboxing and kickboxing and more kickboxing (and Muay Thai and kali in there somewhere), as if my fears could be beaten into submission. But they can’t, and I am mostly tired. School is relentless, work is relentless, the drama of navigating friendships and conflicts in relationships is relentless. I do not measure up. Why the fuck does everything need to be so hard?
I had dinner with an old friend the other day, whose familiarity and soft assurances assuaged my fears that I might have turned into some kind of heartless monster during my time here on the east coast chasing career goals. But I have gotten stronger — he was sad to hear of some of the things I had experienced, but “super proud of you and your courage in seeking out the truth.” And I hold that close to my heart, because he is a friend who knew me from the beginning.
My husband and I alternated work trips — the moment he got back, I had to leave, and then he left again — and it was a salve for me, because I truly missed my singleness, and not being beholden to anyone… except maybe my dog. I luxuriated in a day spent at a cafe reading books, chatting with a girlfriend over breakfast, listening to music while sprawled across the bed in the dim city night lights, smoking on the balcony and lost in thought. For a second, I almost had my creative spirit back, as if I could suddenly draw again or write a whole script. That freedom was an echo of a bygone era in my life.
But freedom is also a lonely feeling. And my girlfriend reminded me that singleness was also a never-ending search for consistent, secure love. I wonder if I would feel the same if I’d had the security of old friendships. But that could be neither here nor there — I am where I am in my life right now, and people come and go (and sometimes ghost for no reason or explanation, as one of my recent nascent friendships went). I am tired of chasing and putting my heart out on my sleeve and coming up short nonetheless.
When I was a child, an older girl I looked up to once commented on my attempts at Chinese brush calligraphy. Taking my brush hand in hers, she gently said, “You are overcomplicating things. Start from the simple basics — the eight different strokes that comprise every character — and build from there.”
I pouted, miffed at having to start over.
"Do not despise these small beginnings," said One.
I know I need to make some decisions. I know the adult I want to be, and I know how very, very far I am from filling those shoes. I also know that it would be a waste of energy to pinpoint how or why I don’t measure up.
But I can stop my frenetic pace for a second and first find my peace in the midst of the chaos. Let’s put in my sleep hours so that I can think like an adult when I’m awake. Let’s make sure I eat properly so I don’t feel like shit. Let’s take care of my work life, because my work has always been a reflection of my values. Let’s take care of school, because school has been building me into what I need to be to take charge of work.
Then let’s tackle the drama of family and friendships… Weigh in on whether or not these relationships help us live our best lives, or if we are just weighing each other down. Take an honest look at what our responsibilities are, what is the right thing to do, and react accordingly. I find that if you do the difficult work of being uncompromisingly honest, and just let the resulting chips fall where they may, the outcome is generally something you can live with.
So let’s find the basics, and let the chips fall where they may.