take a stroll inside my brain
warning: this is a long, introspective post that is intended mostly for a) personal therapeutic reasons and b) people who amazingly have an express interest in the drawn-out inner workings of my mind+heart (i.e. my parents). and also for the sake of keeping this blog, which has become a sort of life record, real and representative. so - proceed knowingly or disregard.
yesterday i came across this little anecdote in an awesome talk by elder wirthlin - "some feel as though the world is their oyster; others feel as though they are the oyster itself, plucked form the ocean, cracked open, and robbed of all that is precious to them." i'm overgeneralizing here, and being a little dramatic (oh, i just must), but yes! i relate. eight months ago i felt like i was exuberantly holding the world - my own enchanting, exciting little oyster - in my hot hands; now i feel like i actually am that oyster, but devoid of its charm and gleam, now dull and battered.
i think i am an exceptionally positive and genuinely happy person, but for the sake of being real, i've gotta say -- this stinks and lately, i have at times been quite miserable. even as i write this i cringe, because the core of me fights against that kind of rhetoric at all costs, but today i put my hands in the air and admit - i am having a hard time, and my heart is heavy and weepy.
the other day my roommate told me that in the wee hours of one morning this week, i was sobbing and whimpering in my sleep. in many ways (i'll spare the details here), somehow i've painted myself into a corner that feels excruciatingly grueling, confusing and aching. because (at least for me) meaningful work and being a part of something bigger than myself is such a huge source of self-esteem, this loooong bout of unemployment makes me feel very narrowly for myself, and it is hard to not let that lack of self-assuredness (which i swear used to be one of my strengths!) seep into all aspects of my life. i'm so tired - exhausted of trying to convince employers i am awesome and exhausted of trying to, in turn, convince myself that i am awesome. at times i just feel like i'm in such a dark place - there are a lot of elements (of my personality and the situation) that make this particular trial very true and very intense for me. all this causes me to feel like i am being the worst version of myself, when really - i promise! - i am resilient and passionate and faithful and everlastingly optimistic. and that is frustrating! i feel like i have nothing to offer the world, no skills or value, no direction or purpose... it is all very irrational but also so very real.
i know. major debbie downer.
there have been many times in the past couple of months when i poignantly and forcefully stop myself mid-downward-spiral and demand - NO! i am not seeing things clearly, and this is not who i am, and CUT THE CRAP, my life is awesome. i have moments of intense peace and reassurance, incredibly sweet and perfect tender mercies pop up, people's kindness warms my frozen heart (yes, dramatic, but also illustrative), i find little happy things all around me, i see things in perspective and re-realize how outrageously blessed i am. i get that, and i constantly feel like i shouldn't complain and that i have so much to be happy about and grateful for, and deep in my heart of hearts i am still that annoyingly cheerful and passionate girl, but right now i am consciously deciding to not clobber this significant trial with stubborn positivity, but to own it, and embrace it, and let it consume me in a way that allows me to really triumph over it.
i just love being alive, and i love the whole spectrum of experience and emotion that comes with mortality. i feel like this hardship is making me more completely human, and i love that. i want to have every single mortal experience that is possible and necessary in my life. i don't want to miss out on any. cliche, but said so often because it is actually true: the hardest things in our lives become the most beautiful and valuable. i like hard things. they make me better. my whole life my mom's voice has echoed these three words in my head: hard is good. i believe that with all my heart; that sums up so much of my life philosophy. hard is good. hard is also hard. it's just HARD! but i am authentically grateful for this trial of patience and faith, for these nights spent praying aloud and crying in my car, for this seemingly mammoth battle to keep my head up, for the things i am learning and the way i'm being hollowed out, and the sensations i'm experiencing and the bending of perspective and the roughness of the oyster.
in a lot of ways i feel like i am waiting for my real life to begin. i can identify with this thought from an excellent book i just finished (more on that later): "sometimes i can hear my bones straining under the weight of all of the lives i'm not living." i am learning about making choices and pressing forward. i think i am so afraid of having to turn around in the future that i somehow stand still in the present in fear of making a committed and not perfectly, perfectly right decision. my fear of wasting time has caused me to waste it. because i am overwhelmed with the world being my oyster, i have become the oyster itself. i'm finally reaching a point just now where i think i am coming to understand that i just need to (as i have so many times before, but somehow in a different context) push aside all the pros and cons and the complexity of this pivotal time and just GO. just make some choices and go forward. i need to step out of my sad little corner and onto the wet paint.
this quote has always served as sort of my life mission statement, my mantra: "go confidently in the direction of your dreams. live the life you have imagined" (thoreau). i am a romantic heart that subscribes unabashedly to the lofty philosophy of living your dreams. i am quixotic. i am so determined, even stubborn, about living the adventurous, lush life i have imagined. i do think this is an admirable strength, and it is something i like about myself. and i feel really blessed that in so many ways i have lived this quote, and that has brought me a lot of joy. but lately i am coming to understand the extraordinary and strangely beautiful power of - gasp! - abandoning this ideal.
indeed, there is something great to be said of making some big, heart-wrenching sacrifices, surrendering to things less glimmering, and accepting aspects of life that were not imagined or never existed in a dream. in this sense, maybe there is sometimes great power in giving up. society is endlessly inspired by people who make their dreams come true, but what of people who traverse through big and hard changes and formulate new dreams that are less glamorous but more authentic and, in the end, more gratifying in an unseen and unsensational way? i think my background has led me to dream of a very outwardly exotic and adventurous life, but i'm discovering the astounding virtue of consciously succumbing to things that become strangely extraordinary in their seeming ordinariness.
now i feel like i am writing myself in circles, and i think it's well time to end this stroll inside my brain, but my point is: i will continue going confidently in the direction of my dreams, which includes a life in which my dreams can change and be tempered in a paradoxically beautiful way.
the place i'm in in time and space is truthfully significantly hard. but -- hard is good.