“Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.” ― Angela Duckworth
“Stress happens when something you care about is at stake. It’s not a sign to run away – it’s a sign to step forward.” ― Kelly McGonigal
“There’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.” ― Charles Duhigg
A version of this blog post has long existed in the back of my mind.
It’s had multiple beginnings, different takeaways, but never a clear ending. The idea has never stopped morphing and evolving, growing alongside me. The thing is, I’ve never felt good enough to actually write this post. Instead, I’ve carried it with me across state lines, through deserts, over mountains, and occasionally to the beach, where I’ve protected it with a generous dose of high spf sunscreen.
Because how do I go about writing an expository essay (full of my trademark wit and signature charm) that adequately sums up one of the biggest lessons of my 20s? How can I succinctly summarize a journey that began 5 years ago — when I graduated college and started this blog — to who I am now and the person I hope to become? How do I write about a journey I’m still on?
Stories are powerful things, and the stories we believe about ourselves are perhaps the most important of all. So let’s start there, with a story. And let’s start NOW before I give up trying to figure out 3 years worth of WordPress updates I’ve missed…
My whole body aches. My neck, in particular, is sore from resting my head on the car window. And then… then I remember that I’m in Germany. I’m in Germany, traveling with some of my favorite people. The excitement wakes me up, and my exhaustion wanes slightly.
“We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off limits to others. We’re willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea.”
“Memory and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age, and certain memories can never fade.”
~Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of teaching vocational English to Iraqi refugees. The following is taken from a longer reflection paper I wrote about my experience. It’s been adapted for this post.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
-2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 (NIV)
I don’t know how to write this post.
I’ve thought it through multiple times, but I still don’t know how to capture the last few weeks of my life. Surreal, overwhelming, life-changing—are words that instantly come to mind, but they fall short. It’s not that “there are no words,” but more like there’s too much to say. From making important career decisions to coping with loss and mourning, I have a lot to process. A whole cocktail of emotions—too incomprehensible, terrible, and wonderful for a 800 word blog post. This is real life.
There are things I can’t write. Things too painful, too raw, too close to home. Things that weigh heavy on my soul, yet are also so much bigger than me. Even so, I feel compelled to write because I don’t want to forget. And aren’t these the things worth writing about?
“The U.S-Mexican border es una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country — a border culture.
Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.”
― Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Week 1 of 2017 is officially done.
I’m still thinking a lot about what this year has in store for me. 2017 is full of unknowns, which is exciting and nerve-racking all at once. However, sometimes waiting gets old. Sometimes I want to know now what my future holds. This whole “figuring-life-out” thing is not nearly as glamorous and romantic as in the movies. Can I at least have my meet cute already?
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race…
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
—Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go