Nothing-Thoughts

I wonder what you’re telling yourself today. What you’ve concluded this week.

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It could be monumental and meaty, meant-for-memoir. Or it could be a string of half-thoughts — nothing-thoughts, really — the kind that just slip in and out of your brain. I find those ones the most interesting, although they’re hard to hang onto and even harder to articulate. I get them while watching landscapes flick by, while waiting for water to come to a boil, while brushing my teeth. While sweeping the hardwood, while hanging up my laundry, while walking around.

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Idle convictions, to be discarded or not:

-You’re outgrowing this blog, this space, this particular means of communicating. Last week you walked up to a guy you’d never met and said hi/here’s my number (without Tinder to make it easy), and it felt really, really good. It took you three days to drum up the courage, but you did it. And he called.

-You’re shooting yourself in the foot every time you let your insecurities get the best of you. Whenever you meet somebody new, you get another chance to be the person you want to be — the person you are now. It’s okay to botch your first few attempts. But don’t be so quick to put yourself down. You’re learning, like everybody else.

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-What are you learning? You’re young; you have plenty of time; this is all good practice.

-You have no idea what somebody else finds attractive. Don’t make assumptions. Also: nobody’s body is perfect, or will stay as it is forever.

-You have the most fun on dates when: you’re yourself, you’re confident, you’re selective about what you share. It also helps to keep your expectations low, and recognize your tendency to get slightly ahead of yourself. Worry about whether or not you’d like to meet him for coffee again — not whether or not he’d be a good contender for bringing home at Christmas.

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-You need to feel clueless and awkward and vulnerable and oh wince, too everything, sometimes. You will feel less so the next time.

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-Dating (even just the prospect of it) will drive every last drop of self-doubt you possess to the surface. Are you ashamed of what you do, for some reason? Are you self-conscious about something — such as, oh I don’t know — how long it’s taken you to get to know a no-longer new place, or how hard it’s been to make friends, or how long you’ve been single? Uh-huh, moving right along.

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-It’s wonderful that you’ve decided you’d like to be in a relationship again. But take care not to get too stuck on that one objective. You have other interests, too — other goals.

Road-tripping to Bend over Thanksgiving break. Saving up for any number of dishes at Ava Gene’s. Getting to know your new nephew. Going to visit your mom in Arizona. Possibly taking up distance running again/signing up for a race. Making this chicken, this sauce, and this cauliflower. Finding a rug for your entryway. Re-finishing the little table you scored at work last week. Giving really thoughtful gifts this year. Learning more about photography next year. Figuring out a way to make writing feel fulfilling again. (STAT.)

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-You aren’t going to be proud or satisfied or even very happy with everything you write. Some posts will fall flat; some you will just want to go back and delete. What’s important is to remember why you write. (As of two years ago: not so you could develop a huge following.)

-It’s okay to want to re-visit that decision, sometimes. It’s okay to wonder about writing for someone else again. It’s okay/only human to envy people with bigger blogs and more obvious signs of success. It’s okay to be insanely proud of them, too. (I mean, read this. And this!)

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-You get to choose how you present yourself. Are you lonely and lost and just doing your best? Or are you actually rocking it — doing a relatively phenomenal job of figuring your twenties out, with wit and humor and grace?

-You’re getting to know yourself better, in a way that many people never truly have the time and space to do. What do you know now? Big and small things. You feel stress in your stomach, anger in your hands, sadness in your throat, panic in your lungs. Happiness all the way down the tips of your toes. You like cluster-y granola. A window open in winter. An unexpected hour in a passenger seat, belting out the lyrics to everyone’s favorite song.

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-You’re doing the work to figure out other things you like, and all of this newfound knowledge will come in handy someday. Think about all of the characteristics you find inexplicably appealing.

Your list now extends well beyond the context of your first/second love. You like: Dark denim. Black sweaters, gray t-shirts. Fleeces, flannels, work boots. Button-down shirts, rolled-up sleeves, exposed forearms. Men who wear a watch and place a hand on the small of your back. A strong, just-shy-of-lingering hug. Dimples. Eyes that crinkle at the corners. Broad shoulders. Well-kempt facial hair. Pajama pants and bare feet. That just-rolled-out-of-bed, rumpled look. A good vocabulary. Depth. A solid sense of self. The ability to make you think, laugh, unwind. A self-deprecating sense of humor. Minty breath. Knife skills. Forehead kisses. Above-average intelligence/interest in something. A roving thumb while holding hands. The ability to read between the lines. A particular fondness for the edge between the spoken/unspoken.

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“The most beautiful part of your body is where it’s headed. And remember, loneliness is still time spent with the world.” -Ocean Vuong

“If you are not willing to look stupid, nothing great will ever happen to you.” -Unknown

“The world breeds monsters, but kindness grows just as wild.” -Mary Karr

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“I think this is what we all want to hear: that we are not alone in hitting the bottom, and that it is possible to come out of that place courageous, beautiful, and strong.” -Anna White

“You don’t have to be the kind of beautiful that everyone can agree on. If the right person finds you beautiful, you win. You win forever.” -Rainbow Rowell

“Most of us have had the experience of creating beauty, whether by cleaning a room, planting a bed of flowers or hanging a painting. Our first impulse is to say, ‘Come and see! Look what I did!’ Though it may be a long time since Mom or Dad came to see, we still have the need to share — to be seen, acknowledged, appreciated. But it’s more than approval we seek; we want to extend the joy. We want someone to help us make it more real, to linger with us in the warmth.” -Unknown

{Portland fall via @abdet100, woodsy cabin via @bdorts, winding road via @alexbaileypdx, Multnomah Falls via @justin.watts, adorable A-frame via @robstrok, afternoon light via @nickcarnera, St. John’s Bridge via @nicholaspeterwilson, Oregon coast via @dllln — all on Instagram.}

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