Little Card, Big Hug

I keep thinking about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This isn’t going to be a depressing post; I promise. At the moment I’m feeling good and strong and full of rather excellent biscotti, which the boy behind the counter made himself and told me I should try. I did, because I’m aiming to be the type of person who says yes to things that used to make me shake my head no, and because hey, hot tip: it’s a lot more fun to be the person who eats the things in tall glass jars than it is to be the person who looks at them longingly.

Nonfat decaf latte, please. To go.

Anyway, the idea today isn’t to let myself feel sad. I just want to do some thinking.

I crumble at two times: when I write and when I call my mom. The rest of the time, I feel like a mildly to majorly heroic human, just like everybody else going through a minimum of one hard thing while continuing to look for the millions of reasons to still be happy. To still feel lucky. To still have hope.

I’ve been avoiding both blogging and talking to my mom lately because feeling all the feelings is exhausting and terrifying. (Also: healing and important.) There doesn’t seem to be a way for me to stick to the surface-level stuff. I can talk about what I did for fun and what I made for dinner for a few minutes, but I always end up crying. Standing over the stove, wiping stinging hot tears away with my elbows.

When I ask myself what’s keeping me in Portland (and in my current situation), I don’t love my answer. I’m here because I’m afraid to make a change. It’s no longer because I’m brave and moved across the country.

I’m afraid to take another stick of dynamite to my life, because hello hi RISK-AVERSE (!), and…look what happened last time. I struggled in New York too. New York was not easy. There were A LOT of lonely Sundays. Before I decided to leave, there were several times I thought for sure I couldn’t feel any worse than I did then. And then came Oregon.

What’s to say I won’t try to make another new start and feel exponentially worse again?

Although things are not great [here and now], and although truthfully I am often in a very specific kind of hell, I know this pain. I know this misery. As awful as this is to say: in a lot of ways, I have gotten used to it.

I know what to do to make sure I am reasonably OK. I work. I eat. I exercise. I clean my apartment. I wash my sheets. I get a good night’s sleep. I go to the library. I make plans with the three close friends I do have. I smile at strangers. I go on dates. I write letters. I go to the market. I cook for four (freeze three portions). I buy myself flowers. I open Instagram too much. I go to yoga. I treat myself to coffee. I leave my phone at home. I listen to a podcast. I paint my toes neon pink. I try not to get stuck in the same old loop.

But I don’t want to just keep going through the motions. There must be so much more than this. I want to be doing well. I want to be like my friends who love their cities, their boyfriends, their dogs, their weekends, their lives.

I’ve started doing this new thing: any time I wish something would change, I plug the thought into my calendar. Six months ago, I wrote that I wanted to be done dieting. Six weeks ago, I wrote that I wanted to leave Portland. Six days ago, I wrote that I wanted to try dating again. (At a time when I’m feeling very imperfect, but also much more capable of loving someone equally far from flawless.)

For all intents and purposes, I have had two big relationships, one in college and one after, and not much experience outside of them.

Six hours ago, I wrote that I wanted to see and do as much in Portland as possible, so that by the end of the summer (the three-year mark), I can say OK, I did give it my absolute best shot. I learned so much here, I did not fail, but it’s time to move on. My “tribe” isn’t here; I’ve exhausted my possibilities for career growth; I’d like to live somewhere with better weather; I’m ready to take another flying leap of faith.

Maybe that’s what I’m doing here. Maybe that’s what all of this is: me, getting myself ready. [Painstakingly slowly.]

However. On a day like today, when everything on earth is blooming, it’s easy to think this isn’t so bad. I can do this. I could love it here. I could build a life here.

What’s missing? Someone to share it with.

I was talking about this over cake with a very nice guy earlier this week: it’s hard to find someone you’re *in step* with. If you’ve ever tried online dating, you know how rare it is to find 1). mutual attraction, and 2). someone in a similar stage of “readiness.” When you meet people organically, without the somewhat immediate pressure of having to decide whether or not you’re romantically interested, I think you stand a better chance of falling into step over time.

Although I haven’t met anyone I’ve really connected with yet, going out and trying does feel better than staying at home waiting and wishing. It also feels good to remember, even just for an evening, what it’s like to be captivating and smart and pretty. And to feel confident, at least a little, for a change. [You are not so unlovable! You are not half the disaster you think you are.]

I didn’t walk home on cloud nine that night, but one night I will. Who knows what could happen? I could have a whole new crop of people to swipe through in six months. I could wind up in a relationship with someone who is just now debating leaving his job, his city. I could end up marrying a boy from my hometown.

And in the meantime: I’ll learn more about what I’m looking for. I’ll develop more hobbies. I’ll get more comfortable with myself. Hopefully, I’ll get to go see some places I haven’t seen yet.

As far as the [next potential] job goes, I know I’ll land on my feet eventually. Even if some amount of unemployment is inevitable, I now know that I will be fine. There is no one more intrinsically motivated than I am. There are very few people willing to work as hard as I do. Those are good, solid strengths.

I’ll try to remember those things when I pick up the phone and call my mom later this afternoon. And I’ll let it just be comforting, when she talks about a soft place to land, and nothing to be ashamed of, and how many people would do anything to help me feel better.


“Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that.” -Neil Gaiman

“Every person must choose how much truth he can stand.” -Irvin D. Yalom

“Some people / 
when they hear
 your story
 / contract.
 / Others / upon hearing 
your story / 
expand. / 
 this is how
 you / know.” -Nayyirah Waheed

“Stop cringing — at your future, at your failure, at yourself in the mirror — and stand up and look directly at who you are. Not who you should’ve been, but who you are now. Let that person in. Let her be as mediocre and wrong and shameful and sad and miserable and brilliant and hilarious as she wants to be, because she knows exactly what you need to feel good. She has plans for you. She wants to show you what comes next. She wants to take you into the future you’re dreading and say, ‘See? You never would’ve imagined this.’” -Heather Havrilesky

“The one thing you can control is how you treat yourself. And that one thing can change everything.” -Leeana Tankersley

“It takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” -Marianne Williamson

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” -Isaac Asimov

“There are feelings. / You haven’t felt yet. / Give them time. / They are almost here.” -Nayyirah Waheed

“Every human has an unfathomable gift that only meeting life head on will reveal.” -Mark Nepo

“Don’t wait to be sure. Move, move, move.” -Miranda July

“Do not resist events that move you out of your comfort zone, especially when your comfort zone was not all that comfortable.” -Alan Cohen

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong.’” -Marianne Williamson

“The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.” -Nadine Gordimer

“If it’ll keep my heart soft, break my heart every day.” -Warsan Shire

“Since brokenness is the way of folks, the only way to live peacefully is to forgive everyone constantly, including yourself.” -Glennon Doyle Melton

“If someone / does not want me / it is not the end of the world. / But / if I do not want me / the world is nothing but endings.” -Nayyirah Waheed

“You have within you more love than you could ever understand.” -Rumi

“Instead of thinking about how to get love, begin to offer it. If you give, you receive. There is no other way.” -Osho

“How light the raindrop’s contents are. / How gently the world touches me.” -Wislawa Szymborska

“I’ve waited a long time to show these flowers how pretty you are.” -Patrick Rothfuss

{Changes in Direction and Spring Anxiety via @bymariandrews, PDX sunrise via @cristian.gheorghe23, Mt. Hood wildflowers #1 and #2 via @rootswalker, sunlit street via @nicholaspeterwilson, You Are a Sprinkle Donut via @letterfolkco, Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival via bentonmcleod, moon via @mattwilczekphotography — all on Instagram.}


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