Friday, October 4, 2019

Unremarkable.

It's been a rough week, to say the very least.

Tonight, I decided to walk to First Friday on Tennyson. For those of you who aren't familiar, it's one of 6 main art walks held throughout Denver on the first Friday of every month. Sometimes with food, sometimes with music, always with cool art. I pictured the night in my mind: I'd get there early, catch happy hour at a bar, browse some shops, maybe see some artwork. Ideally I would've loved some company but it was one of those nights where everyone had plans (what was it, Friday night or something?). I embarked on my journey alone, determined to have some good solo time.

I approach Tennyson and look up happy hours on my phone like a good, proactive millennial. West End Tap House is on the list. I pause and think back to a memory during summer of last year, where I went to First Friday with a friend and walked into West End. I was not intending to run into a guy I had been dating for nearly 2 months...on a date with someone else. It was pretty devastating for me. But I had worked through it and had found a much better relationship afterwards, so I figured it was time for a redemption trip for some new memories. Well, it was fairly packed. A waitress told me "sit anywhere you'd like!" and so I navigated to a spot at the end of a picnic table outside. People were chatting around me, almost wary of the lone girl at the end of the table; like the desire to go somewhere solo was a disease they didn't want to catch. I shuffled through apps on my phone.

Unfortunately the people were more aware of me than the waitresses. 15 minutes later, after what felt like an eternity of eye contact and solid awkwardness but no interaction, I decided to leave. On my way out, the same waitress who directed me to find a seat anywhere also made way for me to leave. I told her that no one had come and helped me, and she tried to figure out where I was sitting. I told her, and she apologized, and then I said "it's okay, I'm just going to go somewhere else" and walked off. I was almost in tears. Startled by this reaction, I tried to figure out why it was so emotional for me.

Because I was ignored and forgotten. Insert old, familiar stories: I am unremarkable, I am forgettable, I am not worthy of time and attention. I don't belong here, and everyone knows.

It always bothers me when bar staff or servers don't take notice of me when I've been standing/sitting there for a bit. It doesn't happen extremely often but in a busy bar, I feel like I am the last to get noticed. I'm unassuming, my voice blends into the background, and I look like a person who can wait for 50 other people to be helped ahead of me. I resent this a lot. At 30, I'm still working on how to handle this.

So I nearly cried as I walked a couple of shops down to another bar. Thankfully I had a better experience there with prompt and friendly service. But as I was walking home tonight it hit me again, and what was even worse was that the person I would call to talk these kinds of things out with is no longer available to me. I am alone. I remain forgotten.

Sometimes, we're just in the thick of it. It's dark, it's messy, and there's not much ahead that we can see. I don't have a story yet of "oh, this was really awful but then this wonderful thing happened and it all worked out!". In the midst of this bleakness I have to hang on to tiny moments, like the kindness of a bartender or a smile from a stranger or the warmth of the fall sunshine. The heartiness of chili paired with elbow noodles and the sweetness of red wine from a friend. Tiny tethers pulling me to life and meaning, one moment at a time.

This moment, I am finishing typing out this post to either someone or no one. But I am okay, in this moment. And I hang on to that.

Goodnight, friends.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

"Texting through sweaty and tired eyes"

I sit here listening to the sounds of the street outside, and take a glance at my new succulents. I know they say succulents are easy, but I've unfortunately killed 3 of them already. Please don't judge me. Or do, because I probably shouldn't be a plant owner. Hoping that the 4th time is a charm!

I'm reflecting on tidying. I've recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and I liked it! I wasn't ready to read it when the rest of the world read it, but then I quit my job and had to stare at my messy apartment day after day. I got tired of stuff piling up and decided enough was enough when I came across it at the library.

(I probably shouldn't mention that I did not start reading it until we were driving back to the library to turn it back in. In a dramatic moment, I decided to keep it and continue to read it. It is currently overdue...sorry library.)

I started with clothes as directed, and prepared to tackle bags and bags of clothes that I also had stored away in my closet to donate "later". I threw them all in a towering pile, decided what sparked joy (or something similar), and thanked the ones that served me well. 15 bags of donations later (?!), I feel lighter.

My real goal for tidying was mental clarity. I was hoping to have a "eureka!" moment as that last bag hit the donation bin; as if magically I would feel comfortable about my life and confident in my next steps. But, unfortunately it didn't work like that. Although I've definitely felt a difference and will likely continue to as I clean out things that are no longer needed, I've still been in a bit of a haze. Since leaving work in March, I've felt empowered and relieved. But also, lost. My work identity was solid, whereas my identity outside of work was not so solid.

My work identity was confident. Assertive. Whenever I saw a need, I addressed it quickly and efficiently. I've always done well at my jobs and I've almost always gotten what I needed from people just by figuring out the necessary way to ask for it. There were roles, rules, and structure, and tangible ways to get from A to B. I liked that and thrived in that.

I happily let my identity outside of work be engulfed by others whenever possible, and usually those that were in close proximity. I'm thankful to be dating someone who doesn't let me be engulfed, but it's also forced me to really figure out myself apart from everyone else. I'm still working that out, but it's feeling more solid day by day. I'll probably have further learnings to share at a later point.

So, there's not really a conclusion to this post. I haven't reached a point of stability or clarity, but I have new succulents and clean closets and room to breathe and figure it out. I have people who love me and encourage my growth and my new career path. I have coffee with vanilla and oat milk. I learn new things from both my physical therapist and my emotional therapist. It's not 100 degrees out right now. Gratitude is a wonderful thing.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wake Up.

Wake up.
Life isn't what you thought it would be.
You've been living in a bubble, seeing only what you want to see.
Seeing only what you need to see to keep the peace.

Dig deep with friends and leave family shallow.
A history kept under wraps
But you knew it was bad.
So you had to be good, to be better. To be wanted. To be easy.
Easy, like the past never was.

Follow instructions. To this assignment. To life.
Let others keep to themselves, don't ask the hard questions.
Friend to all,
Yet a stranger to yourself.
People like you better when you
reflect them back to themselves.
Don't rock the boat.
Don't be unlikeable.
Discard yourself for others.
Easy.
Until it's not, and you realize that someone made those up.
Who made these instructions, anyway?
Wake up.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Lyrical Madness pt. 4

I was in the coldest state, love.

It's been a hell of a ride but it's all caught up with me
And now I'm off track
Feel like I'm right back where I started
Breathe in, breathe out, it'll be okay.

I know how it seems,
When I'm always
Staring off into nothing.
I'm lost in my head again.

One step at a time,
One foot in front of the other
I'm gonna get through this one way or another

Cause I won't let you go
Yeah I just thought I should let you know
That I'm a mess at best, you know the rest but boy
I won't let you go

So come on and hold my hand
You can have the best of me.

It's easy to lose yourself I know, in the in-between...
Try for your shore, for consistency

Cause if we don't try then we won't believe that we could've had it

I wanna let go, and fall for you
And when it gets rough, be your parachute
I wanna do the things that you only read about
Are you ready?

Tonight's not going down in history
But I'll tell you something honey,
It's always better when I'm with you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

30.

I turn 30 this week. I don’t even know how to register that sentence...age now takes a different form in my mind. Instead of future years being compartments with defined contents, endings and beginnings, they are now fluid. You can do things at 25 that you “should’ve” done at 21. You can be 29 and feel like you’re 18...and simultaneously 40. There’s no limit to the things you can and can’t do at most any age (law permitting, of course).

Last year I was at a formal manager meeting for work where we did an icebreaker, and had to say one important thing we’ve learned up until this point in life. I was the youngest in the room by at least 5 years and was wondering what my contribution would be. I get anxiety having to speak off-the-cuff in groups and while they were moving down the line there were varied answers of “don’t be afraid”, “take chances” and “follow your dreams”; my mind was swimming with thoughts.

"What will they think?"
"Will this make sense?"
"Is this too deep for 9:30am on a Thursday?”

In the end, I overcame the internal struggle and answered, “one of the most important things I’ve learned is that the older I get, the less I know. Life has been a consistent unraveling of everything I ever thought I knew”.

Oof. Did I mention it was 9:30am on a Thursday?

Looking back, to soften the perceived grimness I probably could’ve tied it up with “...life has been a consistent unraveling of everything I ever thought I knew...and creates chances to weave my own patterns.” But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 right?

I got a few surprised looks and a few thoughtful “hmmms” and “ohhhs” and nods. A brief moment where the statement sunk in for reflection...and then they moved to the next person. There was no visible “a-ha!” moment for any of my colleagues, but I felt the satisfied feeling of going with my grain and saying what I needed to say. It was true; the script of life had been rewritten in my mind as I deconstructed certain pillars of success and life progress. Perhaps I'll write on these pillars soon. At my age I did feel like I knew less, but I felt wiser and more confident in what I did know, and more open to the unknown.

That trend of unraveling continues; this year it was my faith. I confronted what I grew up with and how disconnected I felt from it, and I began asking myself the questions that I had either never thought to ask or had been too afraid to answer for myself previously. I have no conclusions, but I have the start to something that feels more solid and “with my grain” than the starter set of my childhood. I anticipate that it will be an ongoing journey, and I am excited to make it my own.

This morning I was talking to the barista at the coffee shop down the street and he said "how does it feel to be turning thirty?", as if bracing himself for my outburst of tears or outrage or subtle desperation at another year gone by. I just replied "I don't know!"...and then, with a smile, "I like getting older". How am I supposed to feel? Would I want to wake up as my 13-yr-old self, a la Jennifer Garner? Probably not. Aside from the physical reminders of hard hangovers, back pain and creaky knees, I don’t know how else I’ll feel the delineation of 30. But one thing I do know is that I do like getting older, because each year I know myself better and become a better friend to myself. And I will always look forward to that.

Thanks for reading, friends :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuck in.


I love this quote. For me it so accurately describes those days (weeks, months, years?) where we don’t quite feel like ourselves. And we have to find the things that make our hearts happy (or did at one point, when we were more ourselves) and practice doing those things as a calling to the self inside, urging it to come back out. It's in there. After some time, perhaps those hands gingerly holding the guitar neck and strumming the strings won’t feel so foreign. Perhaps the urge to do that thing you used to always love doing will become natural again instead of gently forced. It will be like riding a bike...maybe you’ll do that again too.


I have become very familiar with this disjointed feeling, and am grateful that there are still certain scenarios and certain people that keep me connected and hopeful. I've been questioning my very foundation this past year and have felt the definition of burned out and uprooted. This past month since I've quit my job has felt something like blindly walking through fog while picking up the scattered pieces of myself; trying them like puzzle pieces to see what still fits. It also feels a bit like what I would picture amnesia feeling like, in the sense that I seem to forget that I worked in a good career and developed an awesome skillset that will assist me in the next step. Suddenly I've time-traveled to 2011 after graduation, when I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing and didn't have anywhere to start.

What did I quit for again?

Oh yeah, my well being! Although it hasn't been the magical experience that overworked employees daydream about at their desks, I am grateful for the time and space. I know that each puzzle piece I choose will be building a more authentic me, and that's what I will always continue to strive for.

I have a short list I found in my phone of what makes me happy that I wrote in 2016:

- Seeing dogs
- Singing
- Recognition (being recognized by others)
- Kisses
- Affection
- Commitment to plans
- Laughing
- Seattle

I am very grateful to say that all of those exist in my current life, with Seattle being an occasional trip. I must not have finished the list, because I could add so much more to that. Including but not limited to: being in the sunshine, coffee, bacon, love notes (and the one who writes them), hugs, mom and dad, hugs from mom and dad, live music, family hang outs, deep conversations at breweries, my family's tradition of waving goodbye, walks, hikes, kombucha dates, St. Patty's Day brunch, yoga, Himalayan salt lamps, reading good books, painting, sushi from my favorite spot, and more. I'm relying on the anchors both big and small in my life that instill hope, bring joy, and remind me of myself during this time of big change. Fight for joy, fight for light. Always. 

I hope you're well, friends.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Another day, another dollar.

3 years and 8 months ago, I wrote the following as a draft post and saved it in my long list of unpublished thoughts with the title "Another day, another dollar":

I've spoken about this before, but a couple of months ago I had an awakening. I took a look at my life working downtown and living nearby and thought this doesn't fit. It's beautiful and wonderful and I've been so extremely grateful for it, but something was urging me on. There was something more than this for me, there had to be. Not necessarily bigger or better in general, but something more me. It's almost an intuitive feeling.

This time has been life-giving, and I am happy to move to something else and make way for the next person to use these pieces as part of their journey. I don't feel that my journey ends here, even though it could. I could stay doing the same things and probably be comfortable, but there will always be that feeling of restlessness or anticipation.

And that was all that I had written. Thinking back, I didn't have the answer for next steps but I knew that I had to take them. Three weeks ago, I took the first step by putting in my notice at my job that has grown me for 5 years, and an industry that has grown me for 7. It was one of the hardest decisions that I had to make. And I made it largely without input of anyone else, at least not until I knew that I was going to do it for sure. After growing up following a path, I felt on my own with this one because it was so unlike what I have been taught and what I've grown up with. Leave a secure job for no job? Was I crazy?! Maybe a little. And it felt simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying.

As expected, my revelation of next steps to my family wasn't initially met with open arms; it was met with fear, hesitation, questioning, alarm, and ultimately, a big love woven throughout those emotions. In their minds, someone they loved and wanted to be safe and secure was saying they were jumping out of a plane without a parachute. This reaction is understandable and also why I didn't tell them sooner. But there were also wonderful moments where I told people and their first reactions were excitement and encouragement. I'll never forget when I told my good friend Katie and her first words were "that's exciting! When are we celebrating??" It woke me up to the actual excitement of making this decision that I had wanted to make for a long time.

So here I sit, on the first day of the next phase of my life. My last day was Friday and I woke up this morning with the feeling that I'm still on the weekend. I have some savings, some ideas, and a faith that I'll come back to myself and begin to move forward. The pathway is unclear but the direction feels like me, and I'm excited to see how this will unfold. I will make sure to keep you all posted! Thank you for reading, friends.