Growth Is Essential

My life used to make sense.

I knew who I was. I knew where I came from. I knew where I was going. I knew what I was living for. I knew all this with a surety that was beyond questioning.

But then life changed and suddenly the belief wasn’t there anymore. And neither were the answers. What I have now is a “God-shaped hole” and it makes me doubt the choices I have made. Change isn’t easy. I start obsessing over thoughts like “at least I was happy then. Was leaving a mistake? Am I destroying my life? Do I even deserve to be happy? What if they’re right and I am going to hell?”

But then I have to remember that I wasn’t happy. I remember the first day I didn’t want to be alive. I was in sixth grade. I proudly declared to my parents my brilliant realization, “you know, the more time I’m asleep the less time I have to be awake!” I thought that was a jolly good thing. Maybe that simple declaration was innocent enough, but I remember the dread that accompanied it. Just looking out the window hating the fact that I had to do it all over again the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, for the rest of my life. Life stretches on forever when you’re young. What’s up with all those people proclaiming how short life is?? Maybe every sixth-grader had those feelings, I d’unno. Like I said, I don’t have any answers.

Looking back now, I would say that overall I was happy. I had a great childhood and a very fortunate, blessed life.

There are a couple things about the past (in my own experience) that are worth noting:

  1. We tend to view the past with rose-tinted lenses. Makes sense, right? Whoohoo, coping mechanisms! Go brain! I think we’re all glad we’ve forgotten some of the shit that went down. But that doesn’t mean your past was all safe, healthy, and happy, so even if you remember it as being better than where you’re at now, that doesn’t mean it will be good for you to go back. At least, for me. Speaking for myself here. I don’t know anything about you.
  2. Humans are creatures of habit, just like any other animal. We like to fall back to the familiar. So while our past may not have been all teddy bears and rainbows (this may appear to contradict above point, but nah, I can clearly view my past as totally great and totally sucky at the same time), at least it was familiar. When you’re lost in unfamiliar territory, you will give your right leg to get back to what you’re familiar with, even if it sucked balls. At least you were adjusted to it and equipped with the tools to find your way. Now that you’re in new territory, you need new tools. But why buy new tools when you can just use the old ones you’ve had for years, even if they’re broken and don’t work quite right? Right?

No, not right. Wrong. Life is all about getting out of your comfort zone and stretching the limits…. or busting them altogether. Growth is a good thing; it is absolutely essential.

I am going through unbelievable emotional turmoil over leaving the church. I feel scarred, angry, guilty, and not without a couple mental disorders and at least one personality disorder. In a way, I’m leaving behind my old identity and forging a new one. But that old identity was a lie, a lifestyle taught to me before I could decide for myself, so I can’t go back. I can’t go back to how I was before any more than I can be anything more than who I am right now. Does that make sense? No, probably not. The point is, I am me. I’m healing and moving on. I am living my life for myself and seeing where it takes me.

I’m finding that life is hard, it’s just hard. I have a belief system in flux, debilitating communication problems, no safety net, and a minimal knowledge of pop culture, hip wine selections, or words like “hors d’oevre”. I feel totally unprepared for this new life in the city. I’m lost, incompetent, shy, foolish, awkward, ignorant, yadayadayada. Two-hour-long panic attacks at work aren’t fun. Most of the time I want to die. And I still can’t stop pulling my hair out. But I am learning. I’m getting out of the basement, or closet, more apt, and experiencing life. I am being brave enough to continue living, and showing up to work every day and trying. For now, that is enough. I am enough. Someday I will be a badass. Someday I’ll find something I love that I will make a career out of. Someday I’ll meet someone who can love me in return. Maybe these things happen gradually, over the course of a lifetime…  I surely won’t learn all there is to know, “I know that I know nothing” (perhaps the only belief I do live by), but I will come to know my true self, not the version of myself that others believe I am. At least, I will live my life getting to know myself, as I don’t think the point where I can close the book titled “Andrea” and store it away on the “finished” shelf actually exists. So, is it a learning experience, or a creation experience? Am I writing my story, or only reading to find out what happens next?

Yet another question I don’t know the answer to. That is quite exciting. No matter how long I live, I will never run out of things to learn. I am looking forward to my next endeavor – getting to know a few of the different religions of the world (I say a few because there’s nearly 10,000 different religions on this planet) – there is so much I don’t know!

I wish my family and friends could understand, but I know that they won’t. That’s okay. I can’t control anyone else’s experience but my own, and I’m learning to be okay with that. I have to find my own truth and go after it. It’s not my design to hurt or point fingers at anyone. Just know that I am doing the best I can and that I am fully responsible for my own experience. I love you all and I am grateful for what you’ve given me!

 

PS – on a lighter note! – I am going to London for a week at the end of April! I’m so excited I’ve bought no less than five books about England and I’m going to rewatch all my favorite British TV shows and movies in preparation… It’s gonna be bloody brilliant!

 

One is nature

Listening to Untitled #8 by Sigur Ros,  I am overcome with a feeling of oneness. Unity.  This is Iceland – for me.  Icelandic music is inexplicably tied to the landscape, and modern artists take inspiration from traditional folk songs, creating a truly ethereal experience. Simply by closing my eyes and listening, I am transported to that expansive land of green moss, rock, icy blue water. One long straight asphalt road dissappearing into the flat horizon.  The streets of Reykjavik,  the murals, cats,  rainbow sweaters and rainbow pavements. Fresh fish and lamb. The Hidden People; a culture that hasn’t lost its connection to myth and nature . The Harpa, blue glass perfectly offseting the blue ocean and inspired by the basalt columns of Reynisfjara. A waterfall cascading down in it’s angry, behemoth froth. The sun making its first peeking appearance from an overcast sky. Standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the endless,  endless sea. 

As the sea, so are we, endless. 

This is the beauty and the hope of life. 

I could get lost here for a lifetime. Let me wander that stark, beautiful world forever, ever connected to nature. 

(this song live is an experience beyond belief) 

Everything changes, nothing stays the same

Everything changes, nothing stays the same.

I like to think of that as a little life motto. Even the things we would like to keep the same change, like the love shared with another, and that’s okay. Just because love changes doesn’t mean it goes away. It might even end up better in the end – sometimes it’s hard to imagine how much better something could be than it is now,  or was before – but even if it doesn’t, life goes on. Life evolves, people adapt. Things change. That’s just how life is. I take comfort in that fact, and also the fact that as relationships fall apart, others can be built.

And then, of course, the things that we would like to change can, and often do. Just over a week ago I was despairing because I thought I would never find a job. Applying to dozens upon dozens of jobs, never hearing back, further burdening my parents, watching everyone else around me being successful… it was all becoming too much to bear. But now, a week and two interviews later, I have a job!

Yes, I have a job!

It all happened so quickly. My aunt messaged me on Facebook that her daughter was looking for an assistant, I emailed her daughter my resume, she forwarded it to the HR person, he called me and scheduled an interview, I interviewed, he called five days later to schedule a meeting the next day (today) with my boss’s boss, and shortly after that meeting he called and made me an offer. I had to fill out the online application and the thought that I won’t have to fill out any more online applications for quite some time is a good thought indeed. The job hunt is over! I’m scheduled to start September 6th. My pay is more than I expected for my first job out of college and the benefits are amazing – full medical, dental, life insurance, 401k, etc.- and it’s at a growing, international company so there should be good opportunities to advance.

It also feels pretty good to know that there were other candidates that I beat…

So point is, even if you think your life is going nowhere and there’s no hope for you, there is. There really, truly is. You never know what could be just around the corner.

I know that eventually this weird feeling in my chest that keeps me awake at night is going to go away, and that it will come back and go away again, because life changes. It’s okay to not feel okay because nothing stays the same; you just have to have hope.

Pertinent to the topic, one of my favorite quotes, from a man who changed my life:

Don’t give up, don’t give in, there’s always an answer to everything – Louis Zamperini

And one of my favorite songs, a true classic: “We’ll all float on, good news is on its way… Don’t worry, even if things end up a bit too heavy, we’ll all float on”

It’s okay to need help

Some of my mail is ending up back home (Southeast AZ), some if it’s ending up here, and some of it’s ending up in Michigan. That’s a long story I’m hoping has a short end.

I finally went to the bank today and made the mistake of going to the location on the ASU campus (seriously, don’t go to the ASU campus during the first week of classes when you’re not an ASU student and have no idea where you’re going). I saw the W.P. Carey School of Business, where I would have gone if I’d gone to ASU; that was strange. I’m glad I didn’t go to ASU. Too many people. I ran into a girl I went to school with, though, so it ended up being good! It was nice seeing her, even if I’m always awkward meeting people again after a long time. The ATM was also unexpectedly easy to use (way to go OneAZ).

I also got away with not paying for parking.

You win some you lose some.

***

I just got off the phone with my dad. He told me that everything is going to be alright: “don’t freak out.” He’s going to call the apartment office tomorrow and explain the situation. We’ll get this application thing straightened out.

He also told me not to apply to restaurants yet, that we’re not that desperate and I should wait a couple months til I find a job at a bank or a bookstore or a library (I say desperate not because there’s anything wrong with working at a restaurant, but because popular professional opinion has is that working certain jobs after getting a degree looks bad on resumes; it’s all b*s*).

My dad wants to help me. I’m applying for jobs and he doesn’t expect anything more. He’s so nice. I’m alright.

It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to need help.