Gray Areas

This putting-your-life-together, getting-to-know-yourself business is not for the faint of heart.

This morning I killed something with approximately one hundred legs skitter-sprinting across a wall just unacceptably close to the head of my bed, and although I’m proud to say I didn’t waste any time looking around for an adultier adult, I did feel the need to text half of my contacts for a virtual high five.

Nothing makes me feel quite as torn between GOTCHA! and oh but gross (gross, gross, gross) the way keeping my living space bug-free does.


You can text me anytime you feel victorious, okay? Whether you’re going on your third year of unsticking your own salsa jars or you’re just beginning to realize that you’re going to need to learn how to cook a few basic things, STAT.


This is new, this is recent, but: I no longer feel young-twenties. I feel mid-twenties. And it’s not half bad; it feels mostly good.


This is not to say that every wrinkle so distressing at twenty-one or twenty-two has been neatly ironed out. Or that every worry so overwhelming at twenty-three or twenty-four has been wholly removed from my radar.


But my worries are different now. I am “making it.” Now it’s more just a question of what that means — what that looks like. Whether or not it feels good. And what might be interesting to change.


I’ve lived on the east coast; I’ve lived on the west coast. I’ve tried NYC; I’ve tried Portland. (Both Portlands.)


I’ve chased a dream job; I’ve tried something more practical. I’ve slaved at a startup; I’ve worked my way up at a corporation. I’ve been broke; I’ve been approaching comfortable (exclamation point).


I’ve been a hermit; I’ve spent time abroad. I’ve been in a relationship; I’ve been single. I’ve been close to my family; I’ve been a $500 flight away.

I’ve been lonely (understatement); I’ve made friends. I’ve been alone; I’ve downloaded all the apps. I’ve been sick; I’ve been well. I’ve put myself out there; I’ve tucked myself away.


I’ve succeeded; I’ve failed. I’ve blogged; I haven’t blogged. I’ve lost my balance; I’ve found it again.


Things that feel big and important now include: how the heck to be nicer to myself. How to slow down. How to unclench my jaw. How to be brave. How to be open. How to take a risk. How to ask for what I need (aka love aka patience aka affection aka acceptance aka the freedom to mess up AKA all the other things I’m hungry for). Related: how to take stuff when it’s offered.


Also on this list: how to be present. How to be someone who loves unconditionally (and can accept that kind of love in return). How to operate in areas so goddamn gray. How to fill the gaping hole still a little dedicated to A LOT of exercise and A LOT of obsessing over food. How to be lonely-lonely, so disconnected, so not here, and truly believe it’s only temporary; it’ll pass.


I’d also like to figure out: How to connect with more people IRL. (How to have more days like yesterday.) How to love my body, as it is and as it will be. How to love myself. How to get my brain on board. How to stop telling myself I don’t deserve to meet anyone until every last item on this list is check, check, checked.


In the meantime, I continue to teach myself how to be okay. How to be happy, even if it’s just about very small things.


I write in coffee shops (instead of alone in my studio). I walk up to the rose garden to read in the sun. I make little lists of places I’d like to go and things I’d like to do. I look for things to be interested in. I ask people about themselves. I say yes when someone asks me to do something (and my initial reaction isn’t necessarily in keeping with the kind of person I want to be).


I visit other parts of the city. I get OUT of the city, where it feels so much better to me. I ask people to eat with me, because that helps (so much). And when it’s hard — when it’s really, really hard, and everything feels so spirally big and insurmountable — I coax myself to open my mind back up to other possibilities. Other options. Other outcomes.

I could do something different. I could live in a little house. I could change industries. I could wind up within sugar-borrowing distance from my mom. I could let go without knowing exactly what to grab next. I could meet the love of my life this afternoon. I could be a month out from bumping into my best friend. I could get good at listing every GREAT area of gray. 


“Even when change is elective, it will disorient you. You may go through anxiety. You will miss aspects of your former life. It doesn’t matter. The trick is to know in advance of making any big change that you’re going to be thrown off your feet by it. Prepare for this inevitable disorientation, steady yourself to get through it, and be kind to yourself. For heaven’s sake, be kind to yourself.” -Harvey Mackay

“What you’ll find, I think, is that the things you most want to avoid are the things that make you feel the greatest when you actually do them.” -Kevin Wilson


“Try replacing every ‘have to’ that you say with ‘get to’ and tell me that doesn’t change your entire perspective on living.” -Unknown

“The worth of a human being lies in the ability to extend oneself, to go outside oneself, to exist in and for other people.” -Milan Kundera

“Choices stretch out over time. We make them new each morning.” -Jamie Tworkowski


{Mt. Hood via @batmobile88, Rowena Crest #1 via kylekotajarvi, latte via @modchik, Rowena Crest #2 via @tiro_inspired, bridge sunrise via @nicholas_steven_ — all on Instagram.}


12 thoughts on “Gray Areas

  1. This is such a beautiful post, so full of authenticity and eminently reassuring for anyone who has been confused or lonely and wondered, “Is this just me?” I really do believe that most things get a bit better when we get past our early 20s, too.
    Also, “skitter-sprinting”. Best descriptor I’ve heard in a while. 🙂

  2. Wonderful post. I would say that gray areas don’t really go away, and that life is all about managing/navigating them. So that being said, I’m super happy to hear you moving through the present ones

    • I love that you read, Brian. Thank you for being such a strong quiet support for me this last year. Next time you’re in Portland, we will definitely meet up!

  3. Your writing so thoughtful and precise. There was much I could relate to and some I could imagine. Thanks so much for sharing! It’s difficult to put yourself out there, but your message is very powerful.

  4. Pingback: Tuesday things: what I’m loving lately |

  5. Thank you for this beautiful post! As I was reading it I felt like you were taking the words right out of my mouth – I can totally relate to the gray areas of putting-your-life together (and the bugs, ugh). Appreciate you sharing your honest thoughts here!

    • Aww thanks for swinging by, Candice. It helps every single time someone tells me they can relate. Hope the putting-your-life-together business isn’t too trying at the moment!

  6. Pingback: Tuesday things: what I’m loving lately – A Fit Mess

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