The last few months have been hard. It’s not the kind of hard I ever want to admit to; it’s the equivalent of ugly-crying hard.
It started, I think, when I realized that it’ll be four years this December since I graduated from grad school. Four years of expectations of what to do after your Plans A, B, and maybe even C for life didn’t work out. Four years of a constant cycle of the Phoenix–burning down, climbing back up through the ashes, rebuilding, and then waiting for the next fire to get ya. Four years of feeling like a constant failure.
Since the beginning of 2018, I’ve been presented with coincidental miracle after coincidental miracle, enough such that I have to believe this is divinity stepping in and lending a hand. This past April I started going back to the gym after a random series of texts with my trainer Marques, who I hadn’t talked to in literally months, got me up off the couch. I started doing Crossfit and olympic lifting and it has made one hell of a difference…when I can manage not to talk myself out of it which has happened less and less the longer I stick with it.
About the same time (coincidental? or divine? hard to say…) I realized I had to get out of the apartment that had served me so well for nearly 10 years. While it had been my home through some of the hardest, darkest times, and was the only home that my little dog June had ever known with me, there were memories there that were haunting me. The air was thick with the very real, tactile feeling of just not being good enough that had produced a PhD that was deemed just barely good enough. I also was sick of walking my laundry up and down three flights of stairs every day. So by the grace of something divine, a friend of mine offered me an apartment I couldn’t otherwise rent on terms that suited me just fine–a lease for 10 months and the promise of central air…and a washer and dryer. Seeing this for the answer it was, I snapped it up.
In the process of all of this change, I started realizing that maybe the life I was living wasn’t what I wanted. I had always packaged it as something great: living my best single life, loving the freedom, loving the control, loving not answering to anyone but me. I have to say, all of those things sounds hollow a bit. I opened the Tent on the Beach probably 10 years ago because friends of mine at the time thought it was funny that I couldn’t be nailed down to a place; I wasn’t putting down roots, I had zero nesting instincts, I lived out of packed boxes in an apartment I lived in for years. They said it was like me always pitching a tent somewhere, ready to pack up and leave at a moment’s notice.
“After this long, is that what I want?” I asked myself in April. No, I don’t think it is. The flip side of freedom and flexibility is instability and aimless wandering. I think it might be time to make some commitments: to a place, to people, to a person, to an idea, to a dream? I think that’s what my life is calling me to do now. And that’s a change. And it’s really uncomfortable.
When I think about the difficult or challenging things I’ve done in the past, I look back and can see the accomplishment for what it was, even if I didn’t see it in the moment I was there wrestling with it. This challenge feels different to me. It’s not a project or an idea. It’s the substance of me.
The past couple months have been ugly-crying hard because I’ve had to come to terms with neglecting myself and my heart this long. But one of my greatest assets is that I’m loyal to a fault; I’ll always forgive if there’s true sorrow in having made a mistake. I’m ready now. Time to forgive myself and move on.
Time to get to creating this life.