All the feelings

A moment in time still rings true
A moment in time still rings true

Two weeks from today will be my last full day at my job. Three days after that, I get on a plane to California, and I’m not using my flight back. Whoa. (Catch up on the situation here.)

In the last few weeks, the emotions that accompany a giant leap like quitting your job and moving across the country to the unknown have been all over the place. Mostly anticipation and excitement, but also fear, sadness, nervousness, and doubt. Some mornings I wake up ready for the world, and ready for this new adventure, but within hours I’m freaking out about health insurance, not having enough moving boxes, and not being able to have a spontaneous happy hour with my best friend after work anymore.

As I’ve been cleaning out boxes and papers and stuff in my apartment, I came across an old journal I kept for a few years in high school specifically about my interests. My dad recommended it so I could narrow in on what I wanted to major in at college, and really start thinking about my career. It was hilarious to see how despite some phases of thinking I wanted to be a forensic psychologist or a counselor, I would charge back with notes about how I couldn’t stand math and science, and how I loved writing, reading, theater, and helping people. “Is there a job that pays well where I can just sit and read all day?” And the best: “I love writing. But it might not fulfill my wishes to help people.”

Today, I can look back and realize how those interests and passions we have in our youth are often the most real and true even after years of school and different jobs. And you know what? I feel pretty good about the fact that my work to date has both involved writing and helping people, or helping to do good. And now, I am going to do more of that, but just in a different way. I’m going to do what I wanted to do all those years as I sat in my room trying to write the next best-selling young adult series, and I’m going to help people, too  — maybe to be better writers, or readers.

Just now on TV, Madonna was being interviewed about a daring, yet very classically Madonna outfit she wore to an event. “There are no rules,” she said. “Just go by what you want.” I’m reminded by something my dad told me when I was struggling with an article for a magazine during an internship. It was a very dry piece, and I didn’t know much about the topic. Despite this, my dad said, “You can write it as is, or you can write it Madonna-style.” Over time, I’ve tried to remember that with my writing, no matter the topic, and with my life — to be true to me, to forget the rules, and to do what I want. It’s not always easy, but it is possible, and it’s worth the risk. And that’s what I’m doing now.

IMG_3955I’ve realized that in the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to set rules for myself, and unnecessary deadlines. I’ve tried to force myself to come to decisions about my work, my relationships, and my future, all by the time I step on the plane on May 24. But what I also realized, with the help of some friends and my parents, is that I’m under no one’s deadlines, and nothing has to happen, except of course the basics, like packing and getting out of my apartment. I can sit around for two months and not do any work, or I can have as much work as I want. I can embrace love and see what happens, and I can change my mind about any of it, whenever I want.

My apartment may be getting emptier as furniture is sold and boxes are packed, but my life is feeling more full by the day. I have been so fortunate to have all these wonderful friends and family and colleagues whom have been supportive and caring and proud and happy for me — and yes, sad — and that have been there for me to be all of those things with them, too.

In the next two weeks, as I’m thinking about spending time with my parents and Corgis and being able to pursue my dreams, I’m also thinking about leaving behind an amazing city that has provided me with opportunity, adventure, and the best friends I could ask for. As an only child, I always treasured my cousins and extended family so much in place of siblings. But these people here have become my family, too. They’ve watched me grow and evolve, they’ve seen me at my happiest, at my lowest, and all the in betweens. And I hope that you are all still there in the months and years to come, so I can be there for you, too, and we can share all the feelings, whatever they are, together.

How does it make you feel?

The title of this post isn’t just something that therapists ask ad nauseum (although it does make me chuckle when it happens) — it’s something that we don’t often think about in the most literal terms when analyzing our emotions.

Generally, when someone asks how something makes us feel, we use adjectives such as sad, happy, angry, embarrassed, afraid, etc. We think in terms of broad emotional categories, the answers we’re used to giving in addition to saying our day was fine, our weekend was good, and our workload is busy.

But how do you really feel?

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To tell the truth

One of the foundations of a good relationship, whether it’s romantic, familial, or friendly, is supposed to be, or at least I’ve always thought, is honesty. We say we want the truth from each other, no matter how much it might hurt, no matter if we disagree. The thing is with truths is that they can lead to issues that have long been bubbling beneath the surface, waiting to explode — waiting to be cleaned up. The thing with truths is that some people say they want to hear, but they really don’t.

And that sucks for the person putting it out there.

Over the years, I’ve had my share of people I love and trust disappointing me or shying away from the truth – and I lose them. At this point in my life, it seems that number of people who really truly care about keeping a relationship built on truth and willingness to adapt and work together to clean up the mess are slowly dwindling to the point that I wonder what’s the point anymore.

What’s the point in having a best friend if you can’t be honest with each other or ask for things of each other? What’s the point in telling someone you want honesty if you aren’t willing to be honest yourself?

Truths can also lead to good things. It can mend rifts, it can smooth out miscommunications, and shed light on something that wasn’t noticed before. The hard part is always hearing it. It’s always hard to hear that you’ve hurt someone, intentionally or not. It’s always hard to hear that you’ve screwed up, that you unknowingly caused pain. I’ve been there. It’s rough. You feel like crap, you immediately want to fix it, or you’re angry, or confused.

But think about the person who has taken the time and stepped up their courage to tell you what they’re feeling. That’s hard too. Really, really hard. The number of times I’ve dreaded even approaching a painful conversation with someone because I’m afraid of the outcome is countless – but in the end, the outcome is always for the best. Once when I approached a friend who I didn’t think was being a good friend, his reaction proved to me that I didn’t need a friend like him anyway – and I was glad to be done with it. Another time, I approached my dad with some feelings I had – and I felt 100 times better after – after having played that exact moment in my head 100 times before. And recently, I had to put the truth out there to the guy I had been with for four years. Scary, tough, but necessary.

Unfortunately, there are times when we tell the truth and things change for the worse. And I guess we could sit around trying to backtrack, trying to figure out what our next move is, but really, after you’ve put yourself out there, all you can do is wait for the response. It may not be what you want, or you may not get one at all. And then – you might see a little more truth out there than you bargained for.