Sweet Sixteen.

I look at my life as a series of cuts and additions that are either sewn together or repaired when seams fell apart.

The cuts were so, so significant. Coming up to Valentine’s Day, and coming up to Random Acts of Kindness week, important dates for my relationship and also my career, I am reflecting on both love, and kindness. Not just romantic love, not just random kindness.

Love to me today, means to respect someone with your whole heart. To not stab someone in the back, to hear them out, to show them how much you care about them. To respect memories and laughter and happiness that once was, to really internalize how important it is to have allies who feel so strongly about you, one way or the other. Do I always respect and acknowledge and recognize the love I had or have? No. I don’t. It’s something I continue to work on because I know my weaknesses and limitations and to be the best possible human being I could ever be, I need to really and truly appreciate the love that surrounds me, and even respect the love that’s not anymore.

I cut people who didn’t love me anymore. But when I cut them, the truth is that I still loved them.

I maintain that you can only hate someone you  love. Once you fall out of love, you fall out of hate. It’s a continuum of strong, heated impassioned emotions that prove one can’t exist without the other.

When I was double-crossed, when I was betrayed, abandoned, dumped, back-stabbed, I felt those things as deeply as I did because of love that I felt so strongly for those in my life who are no longer there. Everyone who’s gone now, is gone not because I stopped loving them ever. It’s because they stopped loving me.

To those who don’t love me anymore: I’m sorry that I lack perfection that you need. I’m sorry I don’t have what you need. I’m sorry that I continued on a life path that you didn’t want to be a part of anymore. I’m sorry I followed my dreams or spoke about my feelings too much or that my vulnerability made you uncomfortable. Maybe this makes me sound like a martyr but it’s true. I am sorry for those things. Sorry? Yes. But can I change them? No. It is what it is. I’m sorry for it, but this is how it is and maybe even how it was meant to be. Do I believe in BFFs or love at first sight anymore? No. These were lessons I had to learn when I was old enough to uncover these taxing lessons.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve really made peace with the idea that these things are gone, that the people I once loved did and said what they did and said, that I didn’t act my best and there’s more I could have done to show my love or at least, contain it so much that I wouldn’t get angry about it.

I’m good. It’s good. There are other people to love and new ways to try and be authentically kinder, better, more observant, more on track. My success in doing these things more and being more cognizant of them is key to who I am going to be and how I am going to get past these difficult pills to swallow.

Happiness #14.

Let’s talk for a moment about ‘adulting.’

There’s this great movie, TV and internet “myth” (maybe it’s a myth… maybe it’s not) of his idea of the quarter-life crisis; of the idea that as young women, we have to be something that resembles fiscally, socially and romantically responsible and stable otherwise we have failed as young people and we will never have children, get married, or inherit the earth. There are books to help us as rolemodels like the characters on The New Girl or Two Broke Girls who are child-like and messed up that we can look to and use to validate our own problems and see that we’re not alone in this difficult world of loss and transition.

I believe that transition has always existed but now in the internet age we can reach out to people and get support and validation for our petty problems and feelings, and this has created a movement or life stage that we have then, forced to give a title or something to. It’s a confusing world for people in their 20s and 30s. Sometimes it’s the kind of world that makes you want to retreat into a dark corner and never come out of. More than ever we need security blankets and inspirational quotes and words of encouragement not just from people we love dearly, but from strangers.

The last few days have been very ‘adult’ days for me. I’ve evaluated my career and relationship future; I attended my first-ever professional convention; I have started the second semester of my career and done so with a lot more control and strength than I ever have, although I was still far from as ‘perfect’ as I want to be. I considered the fact for the first time in a long time that I long so deeply to be perfect and loved or at least liked by everyone all the time, and I want to try and please everyone, thereby tricking them into believing they like me when maybe they don’t. In the last day, I felt all these frustrations and anger I have never felt before really, towards people I love a lot. And when I was drowning in this big scary pity party, I realized something: that everything I’m going through right now and everything I’m thinking right now all comes down to the idea that this is just what adulthood is. It’s these kinds of problems and insecurities and transitions and fears and discomforts and frustrations. I’m out of this honeymoon stage of adulthood where I was able to just do whatever I wanted and pretend like I didn’t want anything more than what I had with my girlfriends and all I did was spend time posting on my silly girlfriends’ walls talking about how they were my “BFFs” (such a concept does not really exist anyways, IMO), and spending mad money on shoes and little trips.

Adulthood is something that’s hit me hard the last year and a half. I’ve had to plan for two; I’ve had to think about how and where I want to continue my career and what my priorities are; I’ve had to make monetary and geographical sacrifices in lieu of other things that I wanted. I keep on continuing to struggle to be heard and understood and sometimes I feel like a kid screaming for that cookie on the top shelf until I turn around and nobody’s home. But these are things I have to put up with in order to get what I want and need out of life.

I’m grateful today fully, for my struggles and frustrations the past few days because they’ve reminded me of what my life is worth. Is it doing exciting engaging fancy things every month? Hell no. And do I wish it was? Absolutely I do. But, I’m not there anymore. And I focus only on the cons of this sometimes, but the pros are important to remember to: I’m starting a professional career; I am learning the realities of standing on my own two feet in the world; I’m learning to grow happiness beneath my feet instead of finding it off in the distance somewhere; I’m not necessarily running from my problems anymore; I’ve given up a lot of that fancy extra stuff for something that, then and now, matters more; and I’ve gotten a big dose of reality. And yes, that came in the form of hardships and challenging conversations with my loved ones. And that fucking sucks. But, at the same time I feel more of the adult I long to be than I ever have.

Happiness Challenge, Lucky 13.

I was trying to find essays to teach my class and in doing so, felt inspired to get back to writing again (in a more formal, thought-out kind of way.. not a “blog what you’re feeling” kind of way). When I write, I feel more like myself. I think sometimes that the part of me that writes is the part of me that feels most like myself…depending on the day. Soul-searching is complex and ever-changing. amiright?

Sometimes when you have the most amazing story to tell, you can’t necessarily find the words to tell it. It’s like there is too much to say and the organization of the story is difficult for that reason. There’s a story on my mind that I think is an amazing one to tell; about my life, and another person’s life, about an amazing an unlikely friendship that I have which was better and more enriching than the friendships I recently lost. Friendship is a hard pill to swallow. It is the kind of relationship that can be confusing and it can make your head hurt and it can force you to keep secrets that the loved and trusted people in your life wouldn’t want you to keep from them. It’s about helping someone against your better judgment maybe, but then realizing later you were glad you took that chance to help that person because you learned so much from them in the end. This story is that kind of story. There is all of that to say in 1,000 or so words and I don’t even know where to begin.

So on Friday when I had a bit of down time and after reading spectacularly good essays by the likes of Joan Didion et. al, I began to write. And for once, I didn’t hate or find hideously awful the events and the way in which I was telling them. My writing goal for the next month or so is to continue chipping away at that story with the hope that I can carve it out of the block of marble that I see right now.

Storytelling helps me become a more positive and well-rounded person. I constantly feel more enriched, more in tune with myself and more okay with the world I’m living in as long as I can see how I feel and the words I’m speaking and the feelings I’m feeling written on paper or a screen or something tangible. Words are like fine wine pouring from a glass that I want to drink when I’m stressed out or unhappy. That was how I found my positive in the last couple of days.

Happiness Challenge 12.

It’s finally Friday. The week was long because I was so out of routine. I’m scared for Monday. I’m trying not to think about it right now.

Today I’m trying my best to be grateful for my struggles. I’m grateful for them because they have made me a stronger person and probably a better professional. I’ve learned a lot from how angry and burdened I’ve felt lately. Life isn’t easy. But, I don’t do something easy. And I didn’t make any easy choice. When it was obviously preferable and easier to make a different choice.

We grow from our choices and challenges. I’m content in the fact that soon, I’ll feel the growth from mine.

Happiness Challenge 11.

Today I want to talk about failure — about mine, and about other people’s.

I’ve failed in so many small ways in what I’m doing right now. But I’ve seen moments of real, unabridged success too. But, I focus so much more on the failures.

In 2015, here are all the ways I failed: I failed at living in the city I loved, I failed at finding a job, I feel like I fail in the job I do have, I fail at maintaining composure when I hurt over being apart from my partner, I fail at taking care of myself, I fail at the menial tasks that I should be doing but can’t focus on because of all the time and energy I put into my day, every day, I fail at making new friends out here, I fail at being positive, I fail at making things like exercise a priority, and I fail at being optimistic, even after countless amounts of effort. In 2015 and up to this point of 2016, I am at a loss.

Yet, I think it’s important to acknowledge, publicly, these failures. They’re out here now. And once I can visualize them outside of my body, I can breathe, take two steps away from them, then charge through them.

I acknowledge failures publicly today because as I mentioned before, I refuse adamantly to put on a show for people and pretend that I’m doing wonderfully well and I’m at my own personal best. To do that is a dishonest waste of energy. If one was truly enjoying one’s life as much as they pretend to on Facebook, they wouldn’t need Facebook. They’d just be out enjoying themselves. I have no time for people who put shows on anymore. I’ve devoted my life to real things; real things that yes, are far more difficult than anything I’ve ever done, really, but real things that I know will make a footprint in some metaphorical snowbank or sand bar.

I acknowledge failures today because it’s #BellLetsTalk day for mental health, and in some ways telling people, “yes, right now, things are not as good as I’d like them to be and I’m not having fun and enjoying life as much as I’d like to, and I am waiting for things to turn around for the first time since October 2014” makes what I stand for right now more ‘real’ in the way I’m defining ‘real’ right now.

It’s rough right now. There’s a storm and I’m just pushing through it any way that I can. Some things are good, and others are really, really, really not. But I’m not going to stop soul-searching and writing and loving and celebrating little happy moments and little victories for as long as it takes for me to find my belonging place once again. I see it embodied in some ways, and those small ways are puzzle pieces that will eventually help me figure out who I really am and where I belong. It’s coming. I know it is. It’s coming once again, and I just need to keep the faith.

Happiness Challenge 10.

It’s kind of a paradox, isn’t it? The idea that happiness should be “challenging”… sometimes, it is. Sometimes the very idea of feeling or being ‘happy’ is painful, agonizing, too much work and effort. It’s brutal, grueling garbage to be happy sometimes. One little thing happens, and all the big and little things fall apart.

I got here because of so many choices I made, good and bad. And I’m lucky to be here at the end of the day. It’s just that I continuously wander through this very transitional phase of my life.

Today, I want to think of good things. I want to think about things that make me happy. Things like…

-Kissing on the first date

-Sharing a really, really good bottle of wine with someone

-Going for dinner, drinks and a really good talk

-When my cat sleeps right next to me and I wake up to his purring

-Getting really tipsy on champagne

-Mini horses

-Coffee

-Muffins from JJ Bean

-Rainbows after rain storms

-Going to see your favourite band live

-Eating so much on Christmas, you feel like you’re going to explode and your body is made of bricks

-Surprises

-Inside jokes

-The good kind of ticklish

-Running my fingers between silky trim on blankets

-Runner’s high

-Sunsets near the ocean

-Cozy sweaters