The Birth of You

The birth of a star: worth every turbulent moment.

Do you feel that?

Something’s kicking inside you. It’s been growing for a long time now, and as much as you want to embrace it, you’ve been afraid. You’ve been hoping it will go away on its own, but it hasn’t. It kicks you in your sleep, when you’re on your way to work, when you’re spending time with your friends. It won’t stop.

Some may have told you it’s not worth investigating. Too risky, they insist. Unrealistic. A waste of time. Still, the kicking continues. Growing more intense each day, the kicking rings in your ears until you can no longer muffle it. You have to answer.

As you dig deeper, you realize the kicks are your subconscious mind crying out for fulfillment, for an escape from the trap your family, society, and even you have set for you. Everything you’ve ever wanted, ever hoped for, ever admired, ever daydreamed about has been pounding on your heart, and you realize that the only way you’ll be satisfied is to heed that call. And it’s more than a fleeting desire–it’s the truth of who you are. It’s the core of your existence. All along, it’s been you. It’s you begging you to

  • Stop procrastinating and start making plans to achieve your goals
  • Stop trying to impress others and start living your truth
  • Let go of empty friendships and cultivate ones with people who care
  • Stop thinking you can’t do it and start believing you can
  • Become an agent in your life, not an observer
  • Do what you know is right regardless of what others think
  • Take care of yourself

As another year approaches, the call of your inner being grows louder. How will you answer it? How will you embrace the truth of you, of all that you are and all that you aim to be, in the new year? Know that it will be difficult. Know that every labor pain is necessary for your growth as a unique human being. They may hurt and last longer than you’d like, but you grow stronger with each one you endure.

The next time you feel that kick, don’t ignore it. Welcome it. Embrace it, and brace yourself: You’re getting ready to give birth to a new you.

Advertisements

Why I’m Happy

The great thing about happiness is that it can be experienced even when things aren’t going exactly how you want them to. Even when you know you have more to accomplish, more to achieve, and more to overcome, you can feel good about who you are and where you are in life–and it doesn’t take anything extravagant to do so.

Why am I happy? I’ll give you six reasons.

1. My basic needs are met. I rose from a bed in a temperature-controlled room this morning. I had hot water for a shower, clean clothes and a warm coat, and money to buy a breakfast sandwich. Those things that seem so simple, so commonplace are worth much more than they can seem.

2. I’ve got a few of my wants, too. I don’t have a car, but I do have a handy iPhone with which to check a real-time bus schedule. I wore my favorite eyeshadow today. In addition to the basics, I have many luxuries. I’m grateful for them.

3. I have a job. I woke up to a lovely direct deposit this morning. While everything about my job certainly isn’t perfect, I’m able to take care of both my needs and wants. In this economy, that’s enough to make anyone happy.

4. Not only do I have a job, but I have a job in my field. I’ve been obsessed with magazines ever since I picked up Reader’s Digest at age 6, and today, twenty years later, I’m working at a magazine publishing company. After working numerous temp jobs and fretting about my career path, I can only be happy about how far I’ve come.

5. I’m graduating in May. My education has been a particularly daunting part of my young adult life. I was a journalism major when I started college, but I hated it, so much so that I dropped out of school (that’s where all the temp jobs came in). I endured a loooong serious of fits and starts before changing my major to English and getting the money to finance it all. Eight years after I enrolled at my D.C. university, I am finally set to graduate on May 11, 2013. Nothing will stop me from getting there!

6. I have loving family and friends. While I had to end relationships with people who weren’t true friends, I did gain new friends who are caring, supportive, and honest. My family is open and affectionate, and I know I am loved and able to return their love. For that, I am most certainly happy.

I could go on and on about why I’m jumping for joy today (and I probably will in another post), but instead I’ll reiterate the point that happiness doesn’t require anything extraordinary. You don’t have to be wealthy. You don’t have to lose five pounds or grace magazine covers to achieve it. All you need to do is take stock of what you have–and if you’re reading this post, you have a lot more than a large percentage of people on Earth–and decide that for right now, in this exact moment, it’s enough for you. If you can do that, you can be happy every day.

To Be Cleansed from Complaints

I’ve got a little problem: I’ve been complaining. A lot.

It’s so easy to do. As soon as I get in the car and I’m ready to roll, I’m irritated because someone is driving super slowly. Then someone going straight blocks the right lane so I can’t turn. When I finally get to the convenience store to buy a magazine and orange juice, someone’s buying lottery tickets. Ugh. As if he’s going to win, anyway! And don’t even get me started on the holiday shoppers. ‘Tis the season to curse folks out.

As someone who believes in the power of positive thinking, I am uncomfortable with my behavior. Yes, we all have moments when we’re impatient, annoyed, or frustrated, but dwelling on everything we think is wrong with our lives is an invitation to unhappiness. You have more power to change your mood than you give yourself credit for, and at some point you have to step back and realize that some people have it much, much worse. Some people aren’t so privileged that they can gripe about their Wifi conking out.

So, to counteract the wave of negativity that has seeped into my life, I’d like to start a complaint cleanse. No eye-rolling. No huffing and puffing. Yes, it’s difficult to find a parking spot at the crowded mall, but I get to celebrate the holidays with my friends and family. I have gained a little weight, but I can walk, run, jump, kick, and squat, and I’m generally healthy. My thighs are worth a personal Armageddon.

When I feel I’m about to strangle someone, I will breathe deeply, count to ten, and smile, even for a moment. I will be grateful. I will not let silly little annoyances like kids running around a store make me bitter, even if it would behoove their parents to chastise them.

And if I must kick myself (gently, with purpose and love) from time to time for a rogue squawk, I will be a much more joyful person. My happiness, after all, is worth it in the end.

Your Intuition Speaks. Are You Listening?

20121112-204641.jpg

To be direct with yourself, to stare into your own eyes and admit that you want more, need more is to break ground on the path to inner peace. It is better to be honest with yourself than to waste time rationalizing what you know isn’t right for you. It is better to say no–knowing you will be hurt, restless, and sad but ultimately happy–than to say yes only to avoid the pain of letting go. You cannot be at peace with yourself if you ignore your inner yearning, the often soft but persistent that voice that begs for your attention.

It’s too easy, though, to disregard your desire for change. The status quo is much more comfortable. Even as you long to explore the unpredictable yet intriguing world around you, you relish familiar turf, for you know what to expect, what to say, what to do there. It seems too costly to fix what for sure is broken, so broken it remains, much like your heart. Much like your spirit.

But that’s not fair. If you settle for what feels easy when you want more, you’re cheating yourself out of a chance to be fulfilled. You’re bequeathing your right to contentment to someone or something that may not be worth your time, energy, money, or affection. All the while, that inner voice cries out in darkness. You deserve more, and you won’t get it until you listen.

If you’re struggling to remove yourself from a undesirable situation, ask yourself this: How long will I do absolutely nothing about my unhappiness? How long will I make someone else’s feelings more important than my own? How much will I have to lose before I realize I can’t take it anymore? Hopefully, you make the change you so deeply desire before it’s too late. Hopefully, you allow your intuition to have its rightful say in your happiness. Though the initial pain may be great, the rewards of brazen honesty with yourself–clarity, confidence, dignity–are far greater.

Turning the Magnifying Glass Inward

20120925-153800.jpg

One of the easiest tasks in the world is to point out another person’s flaws. We peer down at others and smirk: She’s so weak. He’s so needy. They’re so selfish. We can judge folks in our sleep sometimes while convincing ourselves we’re completely objective observers.

What happens, though, when you turn the magnifying glass on yourself? If you’re honest, you most likely won’t like everything you see. In fact, you may be downright disturbed at habits that you know detract more value from your life than they add but are so difficult to change. The revelation can be embarrassing.

For instance, after reviewing journal entries from 1998, I realized that, 14 years later, I’m still doing some of the same things I did at age 12. Twelve! I’m 26 years old with preteen tendencies, and they’re not just any old bad habits. They’re insidious, draining, self-deluding habits. If that isn’t disheartening, I don’t know what is.

One thing that has changed about me, though, is that I don’t beat myself up for mistakes I’ve made. So while it is sad that history has repeated itself again and again, I’m not letting my past immobilize me. Of course I’m not pleased with actions, but instead of crying over them, I’m using this self-knowledge to my advantage. No longer am I hiding from myself. No longer am I content with repressing dark secrets. No longer am I impressed with my penchant for rationalizing my way out of responsibility. Now, I’m going to get the therapy I’ve needed for a long time. A new, more honest me is coming out of this revelation.

Only when you turn the magnifying glass on yourself can you become aware of your problems. When you become brave enough to look at all the pieces of yourself–those irrational, ugly, painful, harmful pieces–and accept those components as part of your unique life journey, you empower yourself to heal from them. Your dug-up faults, vices, and secrets may surprise or scare you, but when you commit to healing from them, they won’t be able to control you.

PS: If you’ve never journaled before, I suggest you give it a try. Regular journaling can be a great guide to your inner workings.

Own Your Airspace

Be too busy being yourself to wonder what it’s like to be someone else. You have your own set of molecules drifting around this planet. To covet someone else’s set is to devalue your own. To desire someone else’s voice is to devalue the lilt of your own song, the unique tune that others may understand but cannot reproduce. Today is the day to sink into the fibers and blood and cells and tendons and marrow of your own body. Inhale the pocket of air that surrounds you in this immense universe and own every atom within it.

Yes, it may appear that others breathe better air. Maybe theirs seems cooler, warmer, crisper, more expensive, better smelling, better tasting. But theirs is no different from yours. Theirs comes with the same elements yours does, so resist the urge to step in another’s pocket and thereby suffocate yourself. Lift your hands in passionate self-awareness and self-acceptance. Admire and appreciate others, but do not negate your own personhood, the feeling of being you, that singular experience in your flesh. Across millennia of human existence, there has been and will be only one you. That’s amazing.

You are a unique speck of life on this ball of water and rock, here but for a short time. Blow bubbles. Laugh. Shout. Breathe. Own your airspace.

The English Major and Her Unfamiliar Lover

Imagine you’ve married the one person you’re certain you will love forever. The bond between you and your spouse is so pure, so organic, that for you to be with anyone else just doesn’t make sense. This is the exact person you dreamed of marrying even before you knew what marriage meant. But when you lie down to sleep with your beloved each night, there’s one little problem: You wake up to a stranger the next day. Your memory bank resets every night, requiring you to get to know your spouse anew each day, as if you’d never laid eyes on him or her before. The scenario may sound like an Adam Sandler movie, but it is a situation with which the serious writer is too familiar. As a lover one does not recognize each morning, writing can frighten and perplex the English major, who must, through agonizing experiment, learn how to understand—and love—the craft once again.

An English major may have written scores of well-received essays, reports, and research papers in his or her academic career, but when the professor assigns a new challenge, fear often seizes the heart. Twirling strands of hair and writhing at the desk, the writer dreads the thought of meeting the blank page again. When is the paper due? How long should it be? Will there be enough time to write it and still go out this weekend? Nevermind that the writer has met deadlines again and again. Nevermind that the writer has written myriad thesis statements: He or she may still feel the need to search for examples online. Because the topic is new and time has passed since the last assignment, the writer wonders whether this set of words can be as good as the words on previous pages. So begins hours of nailbiting.

As the second, third, eighth first date with the blank page begins, the nervous writer fusses over what to wear, so to speak. What should be the thesis? If the professor has offered multiple prompts from which to choose, which topic will require the least amount of sweat and blood to conquer? Which essay prompt is least ambiguous? Then the writer mulls over what she and her unfamiliar lover will discuss at dinner. She wonders whether she’ll make sense or bore this lover she has only met hundreds of times. Instead of sitting down to write just one more essay, she gets up—right in the middle of the date—to do laundry. Maybe her closet needs organizing or her bookshelves need dusting. But the diversions are pointless. Her paramour, the blank page, is still sitting at the dinner table, waiting for her amnesia to fade. She can’t use his bad breath as an excuse to relieve herself from her duty. Only when she calms her wayward thoughts and begins to fill that page with words and ideas can she rediscover her great love. The deadline looms, and she begins to write.

The writing process, similar to those first few months of getting to know and admire someone new, is long. Does every topic sentence point back to the thesis? Can this word be substituted for that? The questions could go on endlessly, but the writer pushes on through her discomfort, worry, and confusion. As her thoughts materialize on the page, recognition floods her amygdala. Smiling, she realizes that she has known her unfamiliar lover called writing all along. She pulled out a few strands of hair in vain. Holding hands, she and her lover skip down an endless, rose-lined path of bliss. She is joyful, satisfied, brimming with love—until she she must write again, at least.