A Different Choice

This’ll sound silly, probably, but it’s harder for me to write when I’m happy. When I don’t feel like I need a minimum of 500 words to coax myself into showing myself a little more compassion.

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So much of this blog feels like a dispatch from a young person feeling inadequate and unsure and impatient and unlovable. But I don’t feel that way at the moment. I feel like I’ve been taking in a lot of information about who I do/don’t want to be, and what kind of life I do/don’t want to have, and that can be exhausting work.

If we can agree on that, perhaps we can also agree on this: it’s hard to be a human. We should think about giving ourselves permission to curl up for a nap whenever it feels like we might need one. Even when it’s sunny out and Saturday middle-of-the-day and an afternoon siesta might seem a little self-indulgent. (Yes/no? I’m hoping you’re someone who would say, “no, not at all — let me show you how to hit the snooze button.”)

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Anyway, I’m really only writing because the quotes I collected this week need to somewhere to live. Other than on my refrigerator door, that is. This is a perk of living alone — you can stick somewhat revealing scraps of paper all over your apartment without worrying who might see them.

Con to living alone: there is no one to help you eat the glut of tomatoes you alone are entirely responsible for amassing. Keep walking; just keep walking. Nope — that feels an awful lot like stopping.

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I’m thinking I might make ratatouille? I’ve had it before of course; I just haven’t ever been especially moved to try it at home. Because eggplant seems to requires some finesse. (It is also what my dad would call “a funny vegetable.” Don’t go getting any ideas.) But I’m turning a corner, and I think I can handle it.

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What do you think about this recipe? Maybe I’ll try it tomorrow, while I’m waiting for my mom to get here. I’m guessing she’s most of the way through California by now, listening to a book on tape and driving her doll-sized Fiat 500 at exactly 72 mph. I can’t wait to see her. Can’t wait to be back inside her hug.

She’s the one who taught me to love tomatoes — the more misshapen and multi-hued, the better. Help me remember to ask her how to pick a peach while she’s here? I have to admit, sometimes I wish I could just pop myself into a paper bag overnight and be perfect in the morning.

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BUT, caps lock on, there is nothing quite like the magic of hard work. And nothing half as hugely liberating as deciding (or realizing) that you can have flaws — major or minor, singular or plural — and still be somebody’s first choice.

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“All you need to do is open your eyes. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin.” -George R.R. Martin

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“You must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

“As an introvert, you can be your own best friend or your worst enemy. The good news is we generally like our own company, a quality that extroverts often envy. We find comfort in solitude and know how to soothe ourselves. Even our willingness to look at ourselves critically is often helpful. But, we can go too far. We can kick ourselves when we’re down. How many times have you felt lousy about something, only to get mad at yourself for feeling lousy?” -Laurie Helgoe

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“Let me stay a little longer in the sun.” -Winston Graham

“Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about her body image. She told me: ‘Sometimes I look at my daughter and think, Oh my god, she has my thighs, that poor girl. She has my big feet and my huge hands and these things that I always saw as being less than perfect. But she’s so completely beautiful to me. I love everything about her, including her thighs. Seeing myself through that lens helps me see my own body more kindly. All that unconditional love, how can it not extend to me, too?’” -Joanna Goddard

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“I was saving my life with every word I wrote, and I knew it.” -Tobias Wolff

“We were all brought up to want things and maybe the world isn’t big enough for all that wanting. I don’t know. I don’t know anything.” -John Updike

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“Which drop on the window pane moves to join the other?” -C.S. Lewis

“You are a wildly emotional human being with a big brain who is also very conflicted, very self-hating, very neurotic, and kind of an overachiever to boot. And all of that is great and fine. It’s awesome, in fact, for a writer to be all of these things. But sometimes it’s nice to have no plan or agenda. It’s okay to take up space without explaining what your intentions are. Take your hands off the levers. Stop measuring reactions. Observe more. Feel your way.” -Heather Havrilesky

“Grace comes from being in touch with your environment and giving it time to reveal itself. Grace arises from an ability to wait and see without panicking. Grace comes from trusting your instincts. Grace comes from knowing that you’re okay the way you are, even if the way you are is a little off-kilter and out of step with the way the people are around you.” -Heather Havrilesky

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“You can structure your world however you like. But I would urge you to interrogate the things you do to keep the world OUT. I would urge you to watch when you toggle between total control and wanting to be led by some parental figure like a tiny, helpless baby. I would urge you to envision yourself screwing up all of the things you have always been afraid of screwing up. Picture yourself becoming the so-called worst version of you: You are overweight. You are not successful. You are poor. You are alone. I would encourage you to imagine that chubby lonely poor woman as the most wonderful, loving, magical soul there is. She has a brilliant, worthy heart, and maybe she’s even happier than you are right now. Challenge some of your assumptions about what happiness is made of, what it looks like, what it sounds like.” -Heather Havrilesky

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“The best people all have some kind of scar.” -Kiera Cass

“How does it feel to be a little less careful about your diet than you usually are? How does it feel to go with the flow at a time when you’d normally protect yourself from the noise in your head that kicks up when you don’t know what’s going to happen next? What if, instead of telling the same story about what you can and can’t tolerate — which, in my observations, can harden into a pretty rigid way of life among the high-strung — you told yourself a new story, one that says, ‘Maybe I’m changing a little, evolving. Maybe I can handle more than I think I can.’” -Heather Havrilesky

“Don’t live in a sterile bubble where everything is calibrated to keep you safe and perfect. Follow your feelings to a new land. You are loved and lovable and you are still evolving. You can make a choice and change your mind and make a different choice. You will be many different people along the way. Feel your way to what works for you.” -Heather Havrilesky

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“Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.” -Unknown

“I am choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

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{Writing desk via @mariantoro, La Push via @chrislengers, sunrise via @theplaidshirt, tall trees via @artifactuprising, wooden stairs via @nicholaspeterwilson — all on Instagram.}

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