big changes, guilty feelings

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The rain here is different – warmer, kinder. Difficult to explain. I guess like most things, you’d have to feel it to understand.

I bought some candles today to warm up my space and make it feel cozier; more like home, I suppose. It’s working.

It’s officially been a little over three weeks since I’ve been in Vancouver and it feels like it has been months. People keep telling me that that’s a good thing and I think I believe them. I feel a sense of belonging here that I’ve never felt before. And everything that is new still has this sense of familiarity to it that I can’t really explain.

It feels like everyone’s been injected with some calmness drug and I’m the odd one who doesn’t know how to relax. Maybe it’ll rub off on me eventually. Here’s hoping!

One of my best and oldest friends and I have been sending letters to one another. Handwritten letters that we post at the post office. Very old school and very heart felt. I like that I have someone I can do this with. Someone who I can write to about anything and everything, kind of like what I do over here. But I always get a response back with updates and stories. Letter-writing is so personal that way. There’s this connection you get out of putting pen to paper that just isn’t the same thing as a phone call or text message. You feel more open speaking about your truth.

What I’ve been realizing more and more is that when you make a big change in your life, there’s this very high expectation that you have and also get from others, that you will be happy all the time. That you will be excited all the time. It’s true that I’ve moved into a completely new place that I am really excited for. It’s breathtaking. It’s soothing. It’s both familiar and new. It’s the kind of place I’ve always wanted to be in because some part of me must have known that this is where I’d feel home. And I do.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any other emotion. That it will only be excitement and giddiness. I’m so beyond grateful for being here, but I am still the same person within this new environment, which means that I still have mental health struggles, anxiety, depression that comes and goes in waves now. It means I’ll still feel nostalgic. I’ll still feel sad and angry and lonely. But I’ll feel happy, too. Just because you’re experiencing something great, doesn’t mean that you have to feel great all the time.

I realized that when talking to friends or family, I thought I had to pretend. Even though I was excited, I was going through such a wide range of emotions all at once and it felt pretty overwhelming. But I felt like I couldn’t share that with anyone because how ungrateful would I seem? I should feel happy, I kept telling myself. Why am I crying? Why am I nostalgic? Why am I feeling anything else?

And I felt guilty for it all. For the moments I felt overwhelmed. For the times I cried. For the times I chose to stay in and read instead of going and exploring.

Thanks to the great practice of meditation and reflecting a lot, I realized that right now, my job is to feel at home here. I’ve only been here a short time but since it felt like longer, I thought I should have done more by now. So I had to hit the pause button a little, take a step back and evaluate what would make me feel sane right now. And I knew (because we always know deep down what it is that we need). And it was that I needed to really feel at home.

So I went out and bought a cozy cushion and throw blanket for my couch so I can make it a comfortable little reading nook for myself. I bought candles that smell like baked goods (because those are my favorite) and placed them around my apartment. I set a bubble bath for myself and lit a candle so that I could read for a little while. And that is exactly what I needed.

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I am an avid hiker. I love to explore more than anything, but right now, what I need is to have some days where I stay in and read, take a bubble bath, do some yoga, and write. I need to feel at home and ever since I listened to that voice of knowing, I’ve been feeling calm and good instead of frantic and anxious.

When it’s time to explore more, I’ll do that, too. But there is no rush. I’m here for a while and I needed to give myself some room to feel that.

Sometimes, we just need to listen to the voice that tells us what we already know, but rarely act on. It knows a lot more than the loud voice, I promise.

 

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The Calm Before the Storm: When Worry Feels Like Productivity

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These past few days have been a bit hazy for me. I’m still recovering from a bit of jet lag – the kind where your problem isn’t necessarily that you’re tired all the time, but quite the opposite. Instead, I’ve been living in an awakened state, one where I wish I were tired.

Most of the time, I’m wishing that life had a pause button. I’m always fighting to catch some air, hoping to take a break; a moment to refresh myself. But lately, the days have stretched out so long that I’m continuously battling a clock that just won’t tick.

I got approved for my first real adult apartment in downtown Vancouver a day before my trip came to an end and now I’m waiting on the final offer for my job status that will come in by the end of this week. The apartment turned out to be below the budget I had in mind, comes with an extraordinarily kind Resident Manager; it’s a good space, a 10-minute walk to where I’ll work, and completely mine to live in.

So what exactly is my problem then?

Well, I guess part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m finding myself in anticipation for a failure of some kind. Maybe I won’t get the position I want. Maybe I’ll be miserable there. Maybe I’ll find myself in a deep state of depression again. Maybe if I do get that higher position at work, I won’t be able to handle it. Maybe if I am, I’ll lose focus of my true passion that has always been writing. Maybe this, maybe that. But nothing for certain.

I’ve discussed it before, but Brene Brown refers to this little human quirk as foreboding joy. I’ve become pretty aware of how quickly my thought process diverts into a dress rehearsal for future tragedy, so I’m practicing my gratitude much more rigorously now – mainly because I fell through on it a bit when I fled towards my future home.

It’s funny how quickly you can see a change: whether it be a rise or fall when you abruptly put a pause on a practice. It took me 10 days of not writing down my daily gratitude list to notice how big of a difference it has made in my outlook on life.

I have an inkling of what is to come, which is an offer for a job (which is definite), even if it’s not the position I necessarily want, and becoming overly excited and then upset all over again because it’ll finally hit me that I’ll be leaving this place and everything and everyone that it came with. I realized that I’m constantly living in what is to come instead of what is already here, and what won’t be for much longer. I don’t want to spend the remainder of my stay in this town to be in anticipation. I want to embrace what I have and what I’ll soon miss.

My foundation was here, the family I created is here, the beginning of my life and my sanity is here. My people are here. It’s a lot to leave behind and instead, I’m focusing again on what I don’t know and what I don’t have yet. I don’t want to regret how I spend this time of uncertainty. This small window I have before I move could be spent anxiously waiting for something that I know is already coming my way but worrying about it anyways, OR I could live in this loving and supportive environment for a little longer. I could fully be here, in the now.

I could use my energy in loving my remaining moments with these people, or I could waste it by worrying about a future that can’t be known right now.

It’s a hard thing to realize and catch yourself in moments that you know you could later regret. They seem so detrimental because you know that you’ll soon wish you could have spent this time better, happier. So that’s what I’m trying to do: catch myself. When my mind wanders off into self-doubt and anxiety, I have to remind myself that this time isn’t going to last for much longer. I’ll reminisce on them later so what I want is to create more moments to look back on and be grateful for.

It’s like that saying where worry is a lot like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere. What I’m now learning to do is stop giving it my attention, because then it won’t have so much power over me. Instead, I’m trying more and more to focus on embracing this slowness that I’m in the midst of because I know that whenever things feel extremely slow for me, it’s right before they start moving very very quickly. It’s this preparation my body knows but my mind doesn’t want to acknowledge.

Lately what I’ve been nodding my head towards is C.S. Lewis’s quote, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?”

He’s right. It is funny but it’s also heartbreaking and it is something to be completely grateful for. Moments pass, life goes on, and as cheesy as it is, we have to learn how to be fully present so that we can make the most of it. What we have isn’t ours to hold onto. Things leave, people move on, you grow. So let’s start living in this time we have and creating moments we can look back on and smile.

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Justifying Departure: It Doesn’t Have to be Bad to Not Work

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Yesterday I turned 21. It’s funny because I’ve never felt different on my birthdays – not older, smarter, wiser – nothing, until my 20th. I remember that day clearly. The resistance I felt as soon as midnight came and I had entered a new decade of my life. For reasons I wasn’t able to explain at the time, I didn’t feel the beginning of something new as much as I felt the end of something else. I felt like I was in mourning that entire day when I was supposed to be celebrating. I kept wondering whether this was some sort of quarter-life crisis or if I was one of those weird people who thought that turning 20 meant that I was ‘getting old’. It didn’t make sense. Nothing made sense.

But sometimes our bodies know more than our minds can explain at the time. Now that I’ve completed the age of 20, I understand that what I felt at the time was a mourning of who I once was and who I will no longer pretend to be. It was a letting go of bad habits and a year of complete and sudden transformation characterized by my unlearning.

The thing about shattering completely and breaking off into pieces is that when you do go and put them back together, you don’t always place them in the same spots as before. All of a sudden you’ve used all these pieces of yourself to create something new. It’s a really beautiful thing, but it also comes with its own set of consequences.

Sometimes when you’re new, when your pieces are placed differently, you no longer fit with the old. That could be friendships, relationships, jobs, interests, hobbies, and so on. That doesn’t mean there necessarily had to be anything wrong with them and that also doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. It just means some things won’t fit. No logical explanation, no event of heartbreak; It just doesn’t work anymore.

I think that’s been the hardest thing for me – not understanding why some things won’t work in my life even when there was nothing inherently wrong with them. I suppose for me at least, it’s much easier when there is some clear problem in the person or the thing, that I can categorize as solvable or unsolvable. But when something worked just fine, and then all of a sudden it doesn’t, and you can’t pinpoint any reason why, that’s when it becomes frustrating.

Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Love Warrior and human being that I talk about constantly, discussed the gravity of knowing. When I first heard that, it made complete sense to me because that is exactly what it is. You often hear people talking about listening to a voice that calls to you or something along those lines, but I find that those loud voices are just the noise of fear. Sometimes, you just know something to be true and that typically doesn’t come from a voice; it’s like a form of gravity that grounds you in truth.

These days, the fear banter has taken up more room for me. This haunting of why something that was so good, no longer works. I’m waiting for some reason to hit me with why the time is up for this relationship and I’m not going to lie, the both of us are still fighting for it to somehow work by learning how to reconstruct the entire friendship. Maybe we will manage and maybe (I write with an extreme hesitation) we won’t. The knowing is that what once was, will no longer work. That could mean that our friendship could flourish into something entirely new, or turn into my biggest fear of it not working at all.

I guess I’m just so used to things manifesting into their ugly truths before departing from them. But sometimes, things don’t have to be bad for them to not work. Some things don’t work anymore because they don’t work anymore. There’s no logical explanation and there’s no fateful event. And sometimes, we just have to learn to trust that and let go of what once was.

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