First thing’s first: I pretty much suck at blogging.
I’m not going to apologize, though, since I’ve been putting this on the back burner for a few very good reasons. I’m hardcore on the job hunt (my Excel sheet of jobs I’ve applied for is truly stressful to look at) and I’ve been working my ass off freelancing, working full-time, and trying to keep up with the things I truly care about in my personal life (the gym + important people, mostly). So no apologies for the lack of blogging, but I do want to keep it up when I can so I can actually get back in the habit once I have my future here in NYC (or ya know, wherever life takes me) more set in stone.
I’ll start by updating everyone on my monthly goals, because that’s the only thing on this blog that actually resembles continuity. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s up:
Get more serious about powerlifting/strength training
This one is absolutely happening. I’ve been working with my friend Meg (@MegSquats, check her out, she’s strong af) for a few months now with powerlifting programming and I absolutely love it. Meg and her boyfriend Ryan have me on a 12-week program specifically to increase strength on the four big compound movements that are used in powerlifting (bench press, deadlift, squat, and overhead press) and it’s generally been going well. Following the program as I have it now, this should have me testing my new maxs in about a week and a half. Let’s do this. (More on powerlifting coming later, so stay tuned for a post entirely on this if that interests you!).
Stretch every day
This is straightforward and I’m pretty much just going to have to suck it up and do it. So far, so good.
And now, for some rambling.
On the subject of life being overwhelming and me trying to meet a million goals at once, I’m just going to come right out and say that this hasn’t been my best month on a personal or emotional level.
Over the past few weeks, my life has been a constant back and forth of very strong emotions. I’m a pretty emotional person in general (the list of tv shows, books, and movies that have made me cry could be the rest of this blog post), but this has been something else altogether. My feelings have oscillated dramatically and relentlessly, from so excited I can’t sit still, feeling thrilled with every aspect of my life to more dejected, unsuccessful, and truly sad than I can remember feeling in my life. Disclaimer: I am totally fine. Even when I have these feelings, they come with a sort of awareness that I’m being too hard on myself, but it’s a very unpleasant state of mind to be in while it lasts. It’s getting better. Things are calming down. I’m coming to terms with the fact that life doesn’t come with a mapped out plan and who I am and where I want to be can change every single day, and maybe it actually should. But this dramatic time of all the feelings has also made me notice a few things about myself, which I'm going to verbally process here, not so much because I think other people care, but because really breaking down how I feel makes me understand myself better. And if someone else does glean something from it, then awesome. Here's what I realized:
1. My measure of success relies far too much on the outside world and circumstances that are out of my control.
I think this is a common one for type-A perfectionists, especially those who are used to being affirmed most of the time (basically my whole generation, of a certain type of upbringing). Succeeding becomes sort of like an addiction, but every time subsequent time you get your fix, the hit is a little weaker. You need a little bit more to feel as good as you did about yourself before. I don’t have a full-time job lined up after the end of 2016. I’m constantly torn between whether my crazy idea to chase a career in journalism was a good idea or the worst plan ever. I feel wildly out of place and lost without an exact plan for my future, like I’ve always had before. None of these are inherently bad things, but the bad part is that I so often catch myself thinking “Does this mean I’m a failure?” in response to something like not getting a job or hearing back after emailing a contact.
In reality, the answer is obviously no. No one, no matter how amazing they are, gets literally everything they want, and I know that. But then why does being without a plan make me feel so lost? I could psychoanalyze myself and say that it has to do with my deep desire to have control of my life (true), but I also think it’s inherently a part of the culture that I’ve been shaped by. Success is measured by tangible things, especially in higher education and the crazy New York City job market. It’s how much money you have, how many people you command, how prestigious your title is, what people think when they read your resume, the split-second reaction to seeing your alma mater listed on your LinkedIn. What does any of this truly tell us about someone’s goals or whether or not they met them? Nothing at all. And expecting myself to live up to everyone’s expectations, and letting them color what my own are, is something I need to eradicate from my life.
I think I have a weird mindset in this area because I spent so much of my young adult life fighting to make other people think I was **insert desirable trait here** (smart and deserving, mostly). In my group of friends in high school, I was the one who wasn’t naturally great at science or going to do amazingly on my SATs. In college, I often felt like the awkward scholarship kid who stumbled into j-school among classmates who came from prep schools and powerful families, and I was just going to fake it til I made it. (DISCLAIMER: Yes, I know not everyone at Northwestern came from any of these things, but when the conversations got into getting internships or affording certain things, it absolutely seemed like it to someone who was as self-conscious about where I came from as I was). This is not an excuse for me feeling like I more than deserved the success once I got it, but I’ve always believed that understanding yourself is the key to becoming a better person (slowly but surely), so at least this knowing about myself this is a step in the right direction.
2. I could drive myself completely insane with possibilities.
This quote from Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar is an absolutely accurate description of how I feel about making important life decisions. Minus the awful, depressing part at the end. But her description of inner emotions is, like so much of Plath’s writing, incredibly on point.
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
This so much describes my inherent conflict with decision making that I wanted (and still want to, but waiting on it because $$) to get a little tattoo of a fig tree. The beauty of it is that it’s so sad and wasteful, but to me, so relatable. The idea that in choosing one possibility, and therefore passing by so many potential other choices, drives me absolutely insane. But now I’m wondering if this really is just me (well, me and Esther). In 2016, we are so acutely aware of all the potential lives we could be leaving. We’re bombarded with other people’s lives and choices constantly via social media. If you can take it all with a grain of salt and not compare your own choices, then there’s no harm in it at all. But if you’re like me and are constantly wondering “what if?” it can be a whole lot more damning. Of course, it’s silly, because I know that every single choice I make will soon just become part of my past, something that is what it is and I can’t question anymore. I'll build my life and future choices around it, the indecision will slip away, and I’ll never know the outcomes I’m missing out on. But it’s a hard pill to swallow when, for the first time, it feels like there are simultaneously endless options and no options at all.
3. I care more about being a good friend, daughter, sister, girlfriend, and person than I do about my career. But I still care about my career a lot.
This sounds cliché and like I’m trying to convince you all that I’m actually a good person, but this one’s entirely true. In the midst of all my freaking out about my future (in a short-term and long-term sense), worrying about money, and generally dealing with all the shit daily life throws at me, I’ve come to a realization that’s entirely unrelated, one I wasn’t even looking for. I think I actually know what’s important to me now, which is kind of cool.
I obviously care about my career a lot because I like working hard, I like having goals, and I have the crazy dream that some day I can do something that will make a difference in someone’s life the same way that so many writers I admire made a difference in mine. But that is not going to make me happy. Having a great job isn’t going to make my life full and whole. Sacrificing everything to push myself as hard as I can in my professional life is going to leave me sad and angry. And if that means I’m not going to be some super successful someone, the kind of person that gets talked about and looked up to, then I am entirely fine with that. This is probably one of those realizations that’s like a light bulb epiphany moment for me and all of my more down to earth friends will just be like, “Well, duh.” But I have the suspicion that at least based off the terrified looks on some of my classmates’ faces at graduation, someone’s going to get where I’m coming from.
And speaking of important things, I'm using this as an excuse to put in random pics of people (& dogs & things) that are important to me #noshame
So that’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed my random life musings, as always.
PS: check out the illustrations on my website! I did those when I was putting off writing cover letters again last weekend, because apparently I’m a *~*v amateur designer~*~ now. But really, it was super fun, so tell me what you think (even if it’s that they suck).