IMAGE: Molly Costello (Profile)
It's surreal to think that I graduated college last May. As I sift through twelve months of cross-country moves and crying jags to find the lessons, I'm coming to realize that this has been the year of micro movements.
When I moved to Portland fresh from college, I was both in love with my newfound freedom and frustrated by a crappy work situation and stressful sublet. It took me a couple months to see that my summer in the Northwest brought unexpected beauty into my life. It helped me make connections that would nurture my work as a freelance writer later down the line. It illuminated the kind of food justice work that I want to be a part of and inspired me to grow my passion projects. This is the raw beauty of micro movements: every step you take, however small, has resonances you can't predict. You do what you can in the moment you're given.
Articulating the lessons I've learned since graduation gives me a sense of solace and self-love. I've been happier these last few weeks than I have in a while and it feels damn good. And so I thought I'd share with you all a couple mantras that emerged from my four seasons of micro movements. I hope you'll share with us the lessons you are learning too—no matter where you are in life!
Each one of us is a succulent, gorgeous, complex creature. We deserve little treats to brighten our days—even on (or maybe especially on) the days when we've done "nothing." Give yourself over to a night spent sleeping under the stars or a late-afternoon siesta curled up with a cuppa chai and a coloring book. Whatever it is, find—and celebrate—the small things that bring you joy.
NOTHING WILL BE PERFECT
Even though this such a big DUH, I'm still learning this lesson. In the year since I've graduated, I've lived in five different housing situations. Not a single one was perfect and it all worked out okay. I've brought that same mentality into my work & love life and it's made it so much easier to ride the waves, to hold the space in my heart for my own shortcomings and for those of the people I care about.
YOU ARE NOT THE SHERPA FOR SOMEONE ELSE'S EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE
A teacher told me this a couple of days ago and it was the perfect summation of the heaviness I was holding onto in my heart. I was confused by my ex's behavior—reaching out to let me know we were living in the same city only to tell me he didn't want to see me because it would "involve feelings"—and I found myself doing a lot of his emotional work. I kept thinking if he still can't see me this many months later, maybe he should change his tactic and what's the big deal if we hang out? and then I realized that the answers to those questions are for Will to discover, in his own way, and on his own timeline. I would love to take a walk and talk about everything he's been up to; it makes me sad he doesn't want the same. But the reasons for why he doesn't want to are not my baggage to carry around.
Learning to disrupt the hurt-people-hurt mindset means practicing being the person you want to be. I've had to do a lot of that this year. I've had to give space when I wanted communication, I've had to let go—of people, places, projects—when my heart wasn't ready. I know, however, that if I want to nurture my capacity to be compassionate and caring, it's vital that I act in ways that help me embody just that—without any expectation of reciprocity. It's not always easy and I often fail (spectacularly and shamelessly) at it. I'm trying though, can feel the growth rings in my chest, and for now? That's enough.
THIS IS NOT HOW YOUR STORY ENDS
My brother says this to me whenever I panic about some small, stupid thing and it's helped to quell my totally irrational and insipid hypochondriac streak (I am that rare breed of worrywart that would happily climb a rusty climbing wall barefoot but am sure I've suffered brain damage whenever I bump my head on a door). So many of our anxieties are based on hypothetical what ifs. I've learned this year that I have no idea what my story is—none of us do—and that's a real gift. It releases me from the need to worry about what I can't control.
EVERYTHING IN ITS OWN TIMING
I don't mean that in an everything happens for a reason kind of way. I mean it in a trust in the present kind of way. You don't need to rush anything that you don't want to rush; you don't need to take something slow that you're excited to accelerate. Feel your way into a sense of timing that's right for you and when everything you've been wanting for and working toward doesn't happen instantly, breathe through it. Or go to bed. I hate that my mom was right about this, but sometimes all you need to do is sleep.
IT'S NOT SO SERIOUS
Some things are serious. Most things are not not. I sometimes am afraid to write or draw or date or dance or do because it won't be amazingly perfect the first try. Whenever I take myself too seriously, I remember I'm just a little zen ice cream cookie sandwich of a human bean who panics at the thought of third-grade math and completely lacks common sense. I'm not a big deal. I'm just little ol' me and it's okay if I mess up.
There are so many more lessons I could've added to this list—about how kickass my friends are, about how important family is, about how empowering it feels to eat out alone—but I think I'll save those for my journal. Nothing will be perfect. Nothing will be permanent. And for now, I'm craving cheezy popcorn and a good night's sleep.