9.28.2012

A Gift From Me


I assume anyone reading my blog is already aware of the details of my current life and has perhaps a clear understanding of the person I am or at least try to be. I assume you would know I want to be a writer and I assume you are familiar enough with my style of self-reflection. With everything that has transgressed over the past several months, it should seem fairly obvious why I find myself searching and sorting through the details of life and person, hoping to make some sort of reconciliation with individual peace and understanding.

A family friend lent me the book, "A Gift from the Sea," by Anne Morrow Longbergh. It's a quick read and a rather feminine look at the inner configurations of maturity. While I may not have aligned myself with the issues of the domestic woman or mother or even wife, I found pieces of these pages that aligned themselves with thoughts I am continually mustering up. I read the book for some inspiration on making peace with the self, but I found in it a greater sense of comfort that my desire to escape isn't unfounded.

I'm 22 years old. I was raised and educated well. I value those things which all inspirational literature and leaders speak to. I appreciate the simple facets of life and I divulge in the complex to feed the unique human inside me. I have aspirations for my future and I believe the greatest love exists first and foremost in friendship.

I've also never been especially scared of change because I have never felt out of touch with myself. Until now.

Now are the days where my surrounding peers are graduating and making decisions. I have friends that have since started families, friends that are traveling the world, friends climbing the corporate ladder. Everyone seems to be venturing on an exploration of the outside world while I instead find myself trying to map a new expedition of self. While I've never denied the existence of my emotions and desires, I find myself struggling to keep in touch with the person I once was and always wanted to be.

Lindbergh's words put some of my restlessness at ease. I've realized that every person is the sun to their solar system. You are not a planet revolving with others; you are the center. Surrounding each of us are gravitational pulls and sighs, spinning activities, circumstances, and episodes. But we are the stillness. The containment of self is what allows us to affect others instead of letting forces affect us.

What the hell am I talking about? Solitude.

I've felt increasingly guilty these past months about my inability to share in life with others. My inability to  embrace change, the lacking desire to mingle with the new generation, and the constant urge to drop the responsibilities that I had once been looking forward to adopting. I don't feel that I can step foot into a world when I have lost touch with the head that steers the body. I've been forced to press "pause" and with my hands constrained behind my back, I've had the time to reevaluate which route I would run once I had the opportunity to escape. While I go through constant shifts in what I should or shouldn't be doing, I try not to suppress any emotions I encounter whether they seem appropriate or not. In reading "A Gift from the Sea," I was reminded of the values that would help me weigh between the head and the heart:

Solitude and the purity of the present
I think at our age, young adults feel the strain of the blemishes or highlights of the past...whether it be mistakes we made or opportunities we know we won't have again. Paired with the inability to truly realize the future and what it holds, we only mask our fear with brave faces and a lust for "excitement" when we're really scared to death that we will never be fully satisfied or never make it at all. Right now I'm scared that the ideal I once thought so obtainable can never exist. I'm scared that what I always wanted may no longer be what I need. I'm constantly asking myself, "What now?" Each time I come up with a new intention, it's inevitably wiped from the board with the reality that it's not my life that matters right now. At a time where so much pressure is mounted upon the shoulders of college graduates, I'm trying my hardest to remember that my life is for me to decide and there is no timeline to happiness. The second chances and change of hearts are often hidden from an outsider's perception but I know I am not the only one with them. What I do now doesn't have to determine my future. It doesn't even have to determine tomorrow. When I focus on each day at a time, the events seem less overwhelming and less as an obstacle to what I still hope lies ahead.

Vision versus form
I've always been an ambitious person, as I think many of my friends, family, and other influences have taught me to be. So it's difficult to make time to transition. It's almost impossible to stop everything. And yet, that's what I've had to do. Although I ache and yearn for the life I thought I would be in embrace with right now, the time I've spent focused on the present has inspired me to stop with my timelines and take solitude for what it's worth. We forget that the vision we have can't always exist as a dream. The idea is fleeting and it is the form that then needs to be implemented. I've have a persona picked out for myself with the help of an education and life experience, but without functionality, it will never come into being. I can't expect the world to hand me what I think I deserve; I have to fight for it. I have to have patience and dedication to achieve the status I have conjured up. I have to have proper form. And if my timing right now doesn't allow for proper formation, then maybe I shouldn't be trying to transform that vision just yet.

Basic math
I need to constantly be in touch with my entire person. I realize so many of us cling to the American ideal of love and while I've of course fallen victim to the same mentality, I've also matured enough to realize that you can never be in a relationship with someone if you don't already have one with yourself. Like Longbergh emphasized perfectly, what good is finding your "other half?" You don't find half of yourself in another person. Two complete people find each other. Won't that allow for the greatest benefit and sharing? I've never thought of myself naive when it comes to relationships and I honestly believe that independence is what has allowed my own to flourish. But I also feel like a different person now. I've been subjected to changes I never anticipated and it doesn't make it easy on anyone when you find parts of your heart transforms. Our generation seems masked with the illusion that love should exist in the same form for the duration of an entire relationship, as if we live our daily lives in the honeymoon stage and we should be ashamed to wake up without a smile on our face and skip in our step. Love should be ever-changing as we are as individuals. Change is inevitable.

Continuity
Eventually the desires we have now as young adults will wain. We might not make it to that last European destination, or write that novel, or make the amount of money we so desired. And that's the reality most of us face. We were thrown from youth with the expectations and drive that the heroes we spent years studying and learning from told us to have. And sadly, many of us set ourselves up for disappointment because we don't base ourselves in the present and the person. But I refuse to be disappointed because I didn't experience something someone else has. I will have my own exclusive life; one that could never be duplicated. My life will be one that should be envied because of the content it gave me. I want to slow down and remember that my story is constantly unfolding. I'll only be continually rushing to the next unsatisfying activity or object if I am unable to savor the stillness and pleasure of the present. How lucky would we be if we were to be satisfied with life without having to create expectations in material objects or custom experiences? In a generation that over-shares to the point of daily competition, I hope I can remain grounded by removing myself from the race and appreciating the fact that to so many other people in the world, I'm still ahead.

Our time in solitude will allow us to create for ourselves and find pleasure in the self without the essence of competition. I may not have all that I expected to obtain by this point in my life but I do know what's important for the rest of it. I understand the sacrifices I am making and I know what I can create without the help of the world. In creating solitude I will always be in touch with my own needs as a woman, as a friend, and even someday as a spouse or mother--regardless of anyone else's expectations about those positions. Through my own art I can reassure myself of intelligence, worldliness, and sexiness. I don't need anyone else to tell me otherwise.

For the first time in my life, I have found myself unhappy with my surroundings and defeated at the rate at which they altered. (I think I've always been a product of my environment.) But I'm determined to make sure this experience and this time will make me stronger. It will remind me to seek solidarity and confidence from the inside. It's not easy, but it's necessary.