Hi Ladyfriends! As I write this, it’s a half hour until midnight, which kicks off the day that I turn 28. I’m going to try and finish this post before midnight, which means it will probably be a little unpolished. Bear with me!
I’m writing this because last year, I wrote a very similar post about turning 27 from a train to Boston.
I wrote the post as a way of feeling more in control of my life than I actually was.
Here’s what happened: I had just been dumped. I was floundering. I called my sister–who had her hands full with a new baby–and asked if I could possibly visit her in Massachusetts for a few days. I didn’t tell her that I was heartbroken and scared and miserable, and that the prospect of being totally alone on my birthday was motivation for suddenly wanting to come out to her house by myself for the first time. But my sister took it all in stride. She and her husband gave me a ridiculous unicorn card and baked me a cake. I spent time with the baby and forgot to feel sorry for myself.
It kicked off a year of action for me.
Reaching out is not a normal behavior of mine. Nor is sucking it up and doing something I know I need to do when I’m not feeling right. My normal behavior is to baby myself and hide until I feel stable enough to be around people again.
I guess you could say that stopped on this day last year, when depressed-to-the-point-of-nausea, I got on a train anyway.
I came back almost a new person. I had discovered something: I can do things even when I don’t feel like doing them. o
That simple idea was so powerful that, on a minute, case-by-case basis, it changed my life.
Here were the circumstances:
1. I was still in love with my ex, but I went on dates.
Actually, I am still in love with him. It seems like a year should have fixed that, but, it didn’t. Life goes on anyway. I loved my ex, and I went on dates. Seem contradictory? It is. That’s the helpful part.
2. I wasn’t hungry and was too tired to face anyone or go to class, but I signed myself up.
On class days, I felt this way, but I still signed up for class and made myself eat so I’d have energy to dance. I was too sad to talk to anyone, but I talked to people. I smiled. It was hard for a few minutes, and then it got easier. I left class and got sad again, a little, but not as sad as when I went in. And nowhere near as helpless.
3. I was too poor to take a financial risk like switching jobs, but I applied, interviewed, and accepted one. Too many other changes were happening for me to emotionally handle a new workplace. I went on interviews anyway.
I’m not saying it wasn’t very hard. I had a full blown panic attack in the car on the way to my first day at my new job with a new company under a new title. I worried I would suck and be fired. I worried that if that happened, I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent. I worried I would miss my old coworkers too much. I dried my tears and went in and shook hands with 30 new people anyway.
I do miss my old coworkers. But I also love my new ones. I’m also better at this job than the last one, and I make enough money to get a gel manicure just because I fucking feel like it. (*pauses to admire nails*)
4. I felt worthless, and I treated myself like I had worth.
I ate well, exercised, dressed well, and stopped giving attention to people who treated me badly. I made a effort with people who were kind and consistent, and who made time for me. I worried about boring people, but spoke anyway. I have a best friend now, which is not something I could say a year ago, despite having a roster of friendly exes and umpteen acquaintances.
5. It was all too much to handle, and I handled it.
It still is more than I can truly control. It might always be. But there’s nothing like the peaceful feeling of knowing you can manage it all in bite size pieces, as it comes.
Maybe the best part of getting older and having had enough experiences to potentially jade you is, you accept that you can’t ever control certain things. That’s where I was at last year.
But this year, the other half of that lesson came into play: I learned to take responsibility for the things I can control, and to cling to those responsibilities when I want to panic and hide from life.
Maybe everything will be fine, and maybe it won’t. Go to class anyway.