Get Up and Climb

Last night I tried climbing for the first time. It wasn’t the indoor rock climbing with harnesses and ropes like I imagined. Nope. We were climbing boulders (indoors). No ropes, no harness. Just us scaling up rocks on the side of a wall with a squishy mat at the bottom. And I was a little more nervous about it than I thought I’d be. Bouldering wasn’t my thing, though I was able to make it up about 4 different ones. Still, everyone else looked like an expert compared to me.

The climb never looks that bad from the ground and the top never seems that high until you actually start. About a little over half way up, you look down and you realize how far that fall really is. Then you think about losing your grip and fumbling and falling, and how embarrassing that is. You feel scared. For some people, they just get back up and start climbing again. For others, is a little harder because they remember that feeling before the fall or the unlikely hood of reaching that next rock that looks a bit too far out of reach. They dwell on the pulsing of their forearms that are asking for a bit of rest. Then they sit for awhile and watch as everyone else starts climbing and touching the top rock before they jump down to try a harder trail. The sport becomes both enticing and intimidating. You’re itching to go again. Your itching to improve. But you’re still sitting on the ground.

I think that’s how I’ve been at life. I have an itch behind my neck that’s nudging me to move, to just go and do, but sometimes I feel held back by my doubts. I’m held back by that fall backs I’ve had big and small. But life is supposed to be simple right? Go and do. And if you fail, get up and do it again until you get to the top.

Get Organized. Stay Productive. Keep Moving.

This is the first time in the last 3 years that I’m not employed by anybody. It’s an odd feeling. I’m not totally stressed out yet I don’t feel totally free. I’m in this odd in-between of I’m Okay and I Need to Get My Life Together. The people who know me will tell you that I’m a busybody. I’m a bumble bee buzzing for things to do because productivity is the fuel to my happiness.

A lot has changed during this transition. I suffered my first series of panic attacks. I don’t remember my meet-ups with people without checking my calendar every day. And I have no job now, so naturally, I feel like I have to do more in order to make up for the time I’m wasting not making money.

Make Space. So first things first, I had to do all the errands that I’d been putting off because I was too tired from staying at work for 10-12 hours at a time and spending 3 hours on the road commuting between home and work (which for some may not be a lot. I’m so sorry for you long commuters). I cleaned liked crazy this week. My room, my car, my dog, EVERYTHING. Someone told me that the state of your living environment can tell a lot about the state of your mind. If that’s true, then my mind must have been a mess. And I have to say, my thoughts were quite muddled. I’m forgetting birthdays and plans when I’m the one that usually reminds other people about such things. Not to mention I didn’t feel comfortable in my own space. I hung out late because I wanted to make my off-work time worth it, and I definitely didn’t look forward to bedtime because just looking at the state of my cluttered room when I got home gave me a headache. De-cluttering my space was the first step I took to organizing my life. I threw out all the little things that I haven’t touched in the last 2 years. I stripped down my old ugly bedsheets (my mom just doesn’t listen when I tell her I don’t like pink flowers…), and bought new solid colored ones. I vacuumed all the dog fur in the corners of the room, and I wiped down all the wooden and my beloved bookshelf. I was creating SPACE. And even though I’m not totally done, I felt better. My mind relaxed and I could BREATHE.

Start Moving. Once I felt I could breathe, I can move. And moving is important whether it’s in your career, mastering a new skill, or just to get a rush of adrenaline. For me, I didn’t have a path carved out for me. I didn’t know where to move to in life. I didn’t have a clear goal yet. But I knew I needed to get up and do something. Even if it was small. And at that point, my body was starting to slow down and I felt lethargic. Post-grad does that to you. Full-time work does that to you unless you build that determination to get yourself to the gym late at night or early morning before work. Now I have all the time in the world. So I moved. I played basketball three days in a row and I went running with my dog. I played outside and threw a frisbee around. I rested on the grass and spent late afternoons walking. I moved little by little. I didn’t make plans but I was thinking about them. I breathed in the outside air and let my thoughts wander away from the stress of having nothing going on in my life.

I think sometimes we let the pressure of all the things we’re not doing overwhelm us. We feel like time is slipping and we should be living to our fullest right now. We feel like we should have already defeated the voices that tell us we can’t do something. We want to be at the top of the mountain when we’ve only just started climbing. We want to be our own heroes. But it doesn’t work like that. A baby doesn’t just stand up one day and start walking like a normal adult. First, he’ll go from a lump that sits to one that rolls around. And when they finally get used to moving his stubby arms and legs, he’ll move to crawling. Then one day, the baby will try to get up. He will stumble and he will most likely fall over a few times, but with time he’ll get to a place where he can finally stand on his own two feet. So we’re babies. We were birth into this new world of adulthood and we want to stand and walk around like the rest of the adults. But we’re still new, so we’re going to fall over and we’re going to stumble, and our legs will be wobbly. Still, I know we’ll get there. We’ll grow into the adults that we’re meant to be. Only if we keep crawling. If we keep trying. If we keep MOVING.

Who I Am Into Who I’m Not

So here it is. The moment when head knowledge and experience come together. The moment when it is truly realized, that all that I accomplished, all that I built myself up to be, in the end,  is nothing. Nothing in comparison to the almighty God of Heaven and Earth that can bring calamity to cities and lands. The creator of all, the creator of me. He can make me into anything and he can unmake me if he wished. And as I sit here and worry about all the things I’m not, I find peace in knowing all the things that He is.

All the changes in the last few months:

  • I’m no longer a student
  • I’m no longer employed
  • I don’t feel put together
  • I realized that I never had a community and how much I wanted one
  • I realized how much I wanted friends
  • My heart hurts every time I find myself wandering away
  • I’ve had anxiety attacks
  • I’ve accepted that I need help
  • This is the first time in my life where I feel like I truly have no direction
  • I realized how much I care what other people think
  • I’ve been called a people pleaser (which is a complete shocker)
  • I cried in front of people…
  • I got drunk for the first time since before I accepted Christ
  • I want to love people who I felt hurt by
  • I want to Love like Christ loves us

I’ve been spending my time trying not to focus on my diminishing bank account. I’ve thought about how to improve and how to get somewhere. But at the end of the day, I know I can’t turn to google to help me get somewhere in life. I can only turn to the God with a plan. A plan for all of humanity. A plan for me. He’s beckoning me to come near him. He’s calling me, I believe. Though I can’t hear the ringing sometimes, I know he is calling and that he won’t stop until I answer. I have to believe that God is working. Always.

2016: The Bad, The Good, and The Waiting

2016 was a year of changes. We’ll not THAT much. I’m still at the same admin job, I’m still 5 foot 3, and I still like the color blue (if that matters at all). But, 2016 is also the year I started writing, the year I dyed my hair blonde, and the year I put away my demons and danced again. I also hiked at Yosemite for the first time, went kayaking in San Diego, and I jumped off a big rock in Hawaii. Check, check, check off my bucket list.

Not to mention, it’s the year I graduated and became an adult. And I’m not going to lie, it was scary. I was supposed have spent the last four years preparing for adulthood. But, like a soldier who just got out of bootcamp and was expected to be equipped for the blood and trauma of the war zone, reality hit me with a bang. I spent the better half of 2016 scrolling thru job sites hoping to move up somewhere. I threw myself into the battlefield of applications and interviews, and like the newbie who just had his reality shattered and shifted, I came back from the battlefield with ringing in my ears and the weight of despair hanging off my shoulders.

Am I being overly dramatic? Probably. But, I’m a scared millennial, who’s been told her entire life that if she stuck to the status quo, did the grind, finish school, go to college, get good grades, and have multiple internships and jobs by the time she gets out, then everything will be fine and stable and comfortable. That there would be little to worry about… That I would make it… WHAT TOTAL B.S (excuse the language). And we’ve all heard it from our older friends that post-grad life is depressing and nobody has any direction in their twenties. Still, I was not prepared for this. I braced myself for the reality shock and yet, I couldn’t deal. Maybe, I just really need to accept this fact: I’m a number. Even to my current employer, whether my manager is nice or not, I’m a number. To all the industries out there posting job listings all over the internet, I’m a number. Just a number with the same qualifications as the other millions of numbers out there.

Knowing this, all I want to do is lie there for the rest of 2017, and maybe the rest of my life. Again, I’m being dramatic. I know, I know. And maybe 2016 crumbled down on me because I kept this unrealistic exception to be at a certain place in my life by the end of the year, and I just didn’t meet the standards I had set for myself. And I never thought about what to do if all of my plans, my backup plans, my back up for my backup plans fall apart.

Life Lesson: Sometimes life throws you a storm you can’t avoid. You can’t plan for disasters. Be as prepared as you can, and sometimes it won’t be enough. But it’s okay because the goal isn’t to conquer the storm. It’s to survive it. And that’s all the human race has ever done. Survive. That should be victory enough.

On a better note, 2016 was also the year I changed my perspective on relationships. I used lone-wolf everything. I wanted to handle my own problems, share very little, and I viewed my friends as people who only wanted to pry into my life. I didn’t see them as a support group and I didn’t want to depend on anyone. And of course this was all from some trauma of being hurt by people. But 2016, was the year I wanted to mend some of my broken relationships. The result is another Life Lesson: Some relationship are meant to last and some should be let go (case may vary).

But, even if some friendships don’t out, it doesn’t mean that there is room for new people to come into your life and lift you up. I look at all the people I’ve met in the last year, and all of them have touched my life in some way or another. We may not be close or have known each other very long, but history isn’t always the defining factor for who you consider a CLOSE FRIEND.

I’ve been so hung up on my present problems that I forget that every day brings new opportunities and new people. Change is always happening. Some good. Some bad. But, sometimes I’m not always aware of that.

My last Life Lesson is this: Everything is a waiting game, and sometimes you have to be patience.

 

I’ve Stopped

It’s 2:12 pm in the afternoon. I’m supposed to have a job interview for a full time HR position at 3pm today. I canceled. Something inside told me it wasn’t worth the trip.

I haven’t written a thing in… days? A week or two maybe? I’m not even sure. My stories stay frozen in time. And I don’t even want to think about drafting another dead end idea for a novel. I haven’t had the heart to do anything. A lot went on this month. To save time, I’ll sum it up in a list. In the month of November (which is still not over so who knows what surprises are still in store):

  1. I drained all the money in my bank account because I found out I owed my school some money that I hadn’t realized. Bye bye rainy day account. But that’s okay. What’s security anyways?
  2. I wrote my research paper for my HR class and at the last moment decided not to turn it in. That was 2 weeks ago. And I think the final exam for that class is today too, but I guess I’m not doing that either. Even with an A in the class the last time I checked, I doubt I’d pass now.
  3. I felt relief, then guilt, then anger, then it cycled back again.
  4. I left my church and tried a new one.
  5. I dusted off the type A hat in the dark closet of my mind and put it on. (I had to go to a potluck where everyone I met was super Type A personality.) The hat fit fine and I felt stylish in it. But after a few days, I realized my Type B sweatshirt was much more comfortable.
  6. I experienced for the first time what it was like to feel like a minority in America and to be powerless next an authority who held all the cards. And I was just a by standing witness.
  7. I held it together…
  8. and then I didn’t.

I don’t know what kind of picture this paints for the reader. Because the reader is not me, who wants to talk about my problems but also doesn’t want to dig around in them. Sometimes my head goes on a rant and doesn’t stop. It starts to sound really whiny after a while. After all, who am I to complain? A lot of people go through the same things. Everyone worries about the future, everyone goes into a slump here and there, nobody has real security, and everybody either moves forward or stops. If it wasn’t obvious already, I’m the latter. I wish I were one of the ones who are still moving, still pushing, still swimming against the current with purpose. But I felt like I’ve been going in circles all this time. So I slowed down. And eventually, that turned to not moving at all.

And now that I’ve stopped, I’m not sure I remember how to move.

It’s probably just soon-to-graduate depression, right? Just an extra thing to overcome with time?… I had more to say. Something with a point to it, but I seem to have forgotten. So I’ll end here for today.

My sign off –

Real Life drags me out of bed by the ankles and my fingers cling to the frame in protest.

Today I’m Stuck

Have you ever made a decision, and you’re just so sure about it because you’ve spent so much time feeling like that’s exactly what your meant to do, just to wake up one day and feel lost again?

This entire week, I’ve felt so enlightened and at the same time anxious, because I’m anticipating everything that’s going to happen -or not happen- in the next year. All I’ve done is think about writing.  My already in-process stories, which are rewritten versions of things that already exist, are doing better than they have been in recent months. In one night, I typed and edited 11 pages worth of content for one story and I was able to plan a new chapter for a different story before I went to bed. For the novel I’ve only barely begun to write, I planned plots and had enough paragraphs written out in my head (which I forgot as soon as I woke up again) to fill pages. My whole body was jittery with zeal like a recent convert ready to reap the world’s harvest for Christ. I couldn’t wait to keep writing, keep planning, and keep running with my thoughts and ideas. I was churning out words like an unstoppable yogurt machine that has the lever stuck on GO. Hmm… Not my best imagery. My point is, I was ready to put everything I had into this.

Then, I woke up today. I opened an empty word document, my fingers ready to mold a new world once again. I had a list of chapter titles / topics I wanted to start crafting. I clicked a few keys and somehow… the words escaped me. What happened to the purely genius paragraphs (in my opinion at least) that I thought up yesterday?! I cursed myself for being too lazy to write them down before… I knew what I wanted to convey, but the sentences just didn’t fit together. Then I sat and just looked at the broken phrases I managed to get down. The cursor at the end of a half sentence kept blinking, counting the seconds as I continued to sit. Is this how all writers feel? I tried to imagine someone like Virginia Woolf staring at a blank piece of paper and looking loss, her pen idling hesitantly over the white. How did those beautiful letters and sentences get started? Did they spring forth and bounce onto the page the moment she sat down, or did she have to stare at the nothingness for days on end and wait for some grand epiphany to come upon her? And it was in the midst of this wondering and not really figuring anything out that I remembered something I read that she, at one time, had written. I didn’t find this quote out of a text by Virginia Woolf. Actually, I read it in some YA book where the character was talking about Virginia Woolf and happened to have quoted it. So I can’t be sure what context she was speaking under when she wrote it. Still.

“My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery — always buzzing, humming, soaring, roaring, diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?”

 

What is this passion for? I wondered. There’s always so much thinking, wanting, planning, worrying that goes on in my head. Sometimes I get the wind knocked out of me just from sitting. And when I finally drag my thoughts back to look at where I am, I find myself with a sinking feeling. Like my feet are buried in quick sand, and my legs don’t have the power to pull my ankles out.

In short, I’m feeling stuck. But that was bound to happen, and it probably won’t be the last time. I imagine that there are moments, whether it’s during the odd hours of night when everyone’s in bed, or in the middle of a shower, or even on the drive to work/school, that we’re not quite sure who we are, where we’re going, or what we’re suppose to be doing. And it’ll probably be okay, because the moment will pass and we’ll end up going about our day as usual. But it’s at that point, as the moment is passing and we’re dwelling on the thought, that it feels like eternity. And it just doesn’t seem like it’ll end. But it will. It always does. Maybe we just have to keep hoping.

It’s Always Been About Security. And Maybe That’s My Problem.

Here’s the thing… I’m not very old. I’m 22, I’m educated, I have a job, friends, hobbies, and ambition. I’m in the prime of my life. Or at least, I should be. And maybe I am, but let me tell you one thing: it sure doesn’t feel like it. It shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve read so many blog posts and articles, encouraging the struggling and slightly-bankrupted young adults of to stop worrying. Why would those articles exist if  it wasn’t normal for 20-year olds to have so much anxiety about the rest of their lives?

Everybody’s been there. Do the grind and make that money. Everyone is just as lost as you are. Love will come. You’ll figure out who you are soon enough. Etc. That’s pretty much the general message I’m getting. And yes, a lot of that is true (or at least I would like to believe so). You can say I buy into the whole “work hard and be patient” propaganda our society feeds us.

Have you ever heard the saying: “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it buys you a big enough yacht to sail right up to it” ?

Well, isn’t that true? I always thought so. I slave away planning, thinking, preparing. All the while, hoping to procure enough experience, education, skills, and what-not to have some security in my future success. And at 22 (and maybe that’s too young to make this sort of judgement) I’ve started to feel like it might never be enough. I’ve made plans that some have said is a good idea but made others question “why?” I thought about grad-school, which my mother responded with “Why not just come out to work?” Most parents would be proud, but my mother makes decent middle-class wage without ever going to college, so she sees extra-college as somewhat wasteful (it was a different time back then I guess). And maybe she has a point. Do I really want to give up another couple of years stuck in school before getting a real career? I decided I didn’t.

My next option, which I jumped right into, was to sign up for an HR certificate program. I threw myself into that one while still getting my Bachelors. It was exciting at first and the material seemed interesting and useful. “I want to do HR,” I said whenever someone asked me what my future plans were. And I HATED that question (I’m sure everyone agrees with on this). What do I plan to do for the rest of my life? Kind of a loaded question. Everybody wants to feel like they have it figured out (at least somewhat) whether you’re age 18 or age 30, especially in the face of other people who look like they’ve made it or are making it. So I liked having an answer to give them. I liked feeling like I had a plan and I was seeing it through. Kelley, future recruiter and HR personnel of some big company. I liked having a plan. Because having a plan meant I have direction. And having direction meant I was going somewhere.

And yet, here I am, in my last quarter of college about to receive my bachelors degree and three classes finished in my HR program, and the only thing going through my head is: this isn’t who I want to be. I mean, it kind of is. I’ve always been told I have the personality for business. And I do find HR intriguing. And I enjoy working in an office and so on. That corporate-career girl; independent, self-sufficient, doing the grind, making that paycheck, and still have the time/energy to travel, own a home, and have a family. That girl sounded amazing. And I thought, THAT’S IT! That’s exactly who I want to be. But if this was really really true, then why does all my work and progress feel so utterly meaningless?

For so long, I’ve been frustrated. I’d be okay and happy and confident one moment, and in the next, I’m depressed and mopey and totally unmotivated to do anything. I just get into this state of self-wallowing, where anything can set me off the rails and I just want to curl up and be alone with my thoughts (which is really the most unhealthy thing because I just end up more upset than I was already). And the thing is… I would have no idea what I’m upset about. I’d think a little and make what seemed like logical conclusions to why I feel angry or upset. But those things seemed so trivial when I really thought about it that I’d start to think maybe it’s something else. Maybe, it’s not other people annoying me or this/that bad thing that happened. Maybe, it’s really just me. I’m just an angry person with no reason to be angry. Maybe I get a kick out of feeling like crap. I started to think I was crazy, that maybe not all my marbles were there, if you know what I mean. And it wasn’t until a conversation I had not too long ago with… let’s call him Mario Nose (because using real names is weird, and who doesn’t like reading about someone with a funny nickname, which isn’t his real nickname btw)…. that made me come to a realization.

Mario Nose said something to me that nobody has ever said to me before. And honestly, I don’t think anybody else would ever, so blatantly call me out. Our conversation always starts the same:

What’s wrong? – I don’t know what’s wrong…-Well something happened right? – No, nothing happened. – Then why do you look upset. -Because I just am, okay?! – Kel, what’s wrong?…

It’s a never ending cycle of the same questions and answers.  Just the lack of progression in the conversation can make you go crazy. But this time, he said something different.

You’re frustrated because you’re scared, he concluded. And I hate it when he concludes things about me. I like to think I’m a more complex individual than your typical emotionally inept girl.

And my smart-alecky self replied, Well DUH I’m scared. Who isn’t worried that they might not make enough money?

That’s not what I mean, he replied. You’re too scared to chase after what you really want. And you’re frustrated because you know that there’s nothing stopping you except yourself. 

He went on. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about you, it’s that you LOVE being the best. And you hate it when you find out you’re not good at something.

Well, who likes failing? I said.

He smirked. You’re just like me. You want confirmation. You don’t want to go in blindly and not have someone screaming in your ear that you’re exceptional. And you don’t just want to hear that you’re great, you want them to make you BELIEVE IT. 

I really did.

Some dreams are crazy and dumb. Like wanting to make a trillion dollars or being a pro-NBA player when you’re only 5 ft tall, he said. I nodded absentmindedly. And some people don’t have dreams. They just want to live and have a bunch of stuff and free time. But let’s face it, that’s not what you really want. Sure, you would like those things. But its not enough is it? 

Maybe it’s not, I thought. Then Mario Nose asked me this:

What sounds better to you? Kelley, the author? or Kelley, the banking career girl who travels the world during her time off? Which life would you chose?

With his questions, my usually answer would always be: I don’t know (because I really didn’t). But it didn’t take me even a second to figure this one out.

I’d choose Kelley, the author. Every time.