It Doesn’t Have to be A Dream

Last night our yoga teacher asked us to raise our hands if we were currently working at our dream job. About five people out of the thirty-person class raised their hands— I wasn’t one of them. Her follow-up question was: “If you aren’t doing your dream job, what’s something you could do every day to get you closer to it?” Cue full on panic-attack, and me drenched in sweat before we’d even started moving. It was like a large, heated spotlight had been pointed directly at my face. “Well?!” Femi said to herself like a schoolmarm to a child who hadn’t done her homework. “What are you doing???”

…What the fuck am I doing?

Is anyone else scared? I feel like I’m terrified, and I’ve been working to name that fear. I know what my dream job is. I have a date by when I want to be doing my dream job. But what do I do between now and then? How do I get from here to there? And the worry that I’m wasting my days is a constant presence. I’m sitting in this yoga class, fully aflame, because the teacher is right – our dream doesn’t have to stay a dream. We can do it! Or get close. But suddenly there comes all this pressure, and weight, and worry, and fear. What if I can’t do it? What if I’m not good at it? What if I keep spending all my free time watching Netflix and my life stays the same and I never get out of this job that I kind of hate? I think about those people who are like “This job was supposed to be a two year gig!” at their 20th anniversary office potluck. The last thing I want is to wake up one day and feel like my life flew right by me, and I never used it to do something that made me feel alive.

The funny thing I’m realizing about dreams is that they’re scary either way. I feel scared to do it, and I also feel scared not to. But fear is paralyzing and I think that’s how people end up spending decades in places they only intended to spend months. “What’s one thing you can do every day to bring you closer to working your dream job?” I feel like another way to ask that is how do we focus on a manageable task in front of us to help us release all that fear?

My initial reaction was “HEY GET OFF MY BACK ALRIGHT?!” which I wasn’t entirely expecting. Not directed at my teacher of course, this is a conversation concerning only me and Me. But “Me” noticed that the inflammatory response is fear-based. Because that little question pokes a hole in my “safe” bubble and I want to close it up. It makes me look to see what steps I could take out of my box, and even just looking outside feels frightening.  But if we can get past the inflammatory reaction, past the fear mongering we love doing, can we answer it?
What’s one thing you can do every day to work towards your dream job?

At this juncture I’d also like to point out that we’ll need grace. We’ll need to ask ourselves this question with grace, and we’ll need grace for ourselves on the days when we don’t do anything to work towards our dream job. Those days have to be okay too. I just want to encourage you, and encourage myself. And hopefully also calm myself TF down. We can do it, right? I think we can make our lives what we want them to be.

I don’t know what your dream job is, but at the end of class our teacher encouraged us to share it with each other so I’ll tell you mine: I want to be a blogger (lol surprise). And I’d like to be making most if not all of my income from it in 5 years. There it is, out in the Universe and on the Internet forever. Honestly it felt really vulnerable to put out there, but also exhilarating! Give it a shot –maybe not the Internet part, you can just tell a friend. Or you could make it your Facebook status— whatever feels right. And then let’s get to work, let’s share and connect and support and bolster each other in our quests. We can do this.

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Grief and Loss

Until very recently, I’d always associated grief with death. Mourning the loss of a family member, or a friend who’d passed away. As I started getting more involved in Flood, I’d heard the term used more frequently, as people described their processes of getting over a breakup or a loss of friendship. But I think it’s only been in, really the last week, that I’ve started to realize how integral grieving is to the human experience, and how frequently it’s required.

Grieving is the healthy way of processing a loss we’ve suffered. But in order to process, we first have to acknowledge that we’ve suffered a loss. I’ve found that in happy transitions, like starting a new job, going from high school to college, or getting married, the grieving process tends to be shortchanged because “we’re celebrating!” We completely ignore the fact that there may be parts of our old job, or our hometown, or our singleness that we’ll miss. Then in harder transitions, like a divorce, the aging process, or an ending friendship, though the losses are clearer, we want to skip the grieving process because the pain is too difficult to look at. And it’s true that depending on where you are in your life, and what you’re grieving, the process can look different. Sometimes you skip right through to Acceptance, other times it feels like you will only ever feel Sadness and Anger for the rest of your life. It can get really overwhelming.

Chapter 7 of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (aka EHS, the book I’ve been reading as recommended by my therapist) is about grieving and what it looks like to grieve properly. The first step noted in the book is to pay attention to your emotions. Allow yourself to feel the weight of your anger, sadness, frustration, confusion, heartbreak, fatigue, disappointment, etc. Not only is this counterintuitive because we are choosing to move towards pain, it’s also extremely counter-culture. Suuuuuuuuper un-American. We’re not taught to sit and feel, we’re taught to get up and go. Pick yourself up! Dust yourself off! “If you don’t like your circumstances, change them”—basically the foundation of the American Dream. And hey, if you can’t change it, go grab a drink! Pick up a new hobby, buy a car, go shopping! Distract yourself, because sitting and feeling sad is “wallowing”, it’s pathetic. “Why cry over something you can’t change?” I 100% agree that wallowing and self-pity are not healthy avenues to venture down, but grieving is not either of those things. It’s not getting selfishly absorbed into your own emotions, but rather giving them their due space as you continue to live your life. Because when we don’t— when we ignore, bury, or stuff our feelings— we get numb. We become caricatures of ourselves with painted smiles on our faces (EHS). And to be honest, I think Christians are the worst at this. The WORST. Because for whatever gaps in our counterfeit façade we find, we can plug them right up with a bible scripture at the ready. “Rejoice in the Lord always!” (Philippians 4:4) “The joy of the Lord is my strength!’ (Nehemiah 8:10) “He has not given us a spirit of fear but that of power, of love, and of a sound mind!’” (2 Timothy 1:7).  We just say shit— we’re just saying words like robots in an attempt to bury our loneliness, fear, resentment, sorrow, and all the other hard things we’re feeling. And it results in alienating ourselves, because it is literally inhuman to feel happy all the time. God Himself isn’t even happy all the time, it’s unsustainable.

One of my favorite things Pete (we’re on a nickname basis now) says in this book is that true spirituality is rooted in facing reality. If your parents didn’t know how to love you well, and when you look back it makes you sad, be sad about it! If you really need a new job and you’re hitting dead ends and it’s frustrating, be frustrated about it! If you’re single and you want to be in a relationship but it’s just not happening right now, and you’re mad, be mad about it! Don’t try to explain what you’re feeling away with some platitude about how you’re fine because you know God is really working with you through this time. He is, but you’re not fine. Maybe you’re mad at Him. And if you are, I highly encourage you to let yourself feel that. One of the most freeing things I ever learned was how to curse at God, honestly. Because spoiler alert: He already knows you’re pissed. You’re not fooling anyone by praying passive aggressively through gritted teeth.

In the same way we can never successfully hide our emotions from God, I don’t think we can successfully hide our emotions from each other either. I mean we sure do try though, amirite?! Lord knows we give it our best shot, but despite our efforts, we start to “leak” out all over everyone around us (EHS). All that unprocessed anger and sadness comes out in passive aggression, bitterness, judgment, blurred boundaries, and fakeness. Not to pick on Christians again (always picking on Christians), but who hasn’t heard people in the church described with at least one of those things? Yeah, I wonder why.

The second thing Pete says we have to do to grieve properly is to wait. I know, it just got worse. Literally the only thing less appealing than allowing ourselves to actually feel all of our negative emotions is to then release control over when it will end. Again, I’m not advocating wallowing, or abdicating from your life. Sometimes in certain grieving processes, taking a break becomes necessary (#BereavementDays). Do as much as you can, be around people who love you, but keep allowing yourself to feel what you feel. This is when it gets gnarly because then we’re like “Well for how long? How fucking long am I going to cry about this? How long is my blood pressure going to shoot up every time I think of this situation? How many times am I going to want to punch a wall when that person comes up in conversation?” And you know what man, I don’t know. There was more to Pete’s step-by-step but it kind of all boiled down to these two things. We feel and then we wait. And then at some point, through continuing to process, wrestle, and surrender, we make it to the other side— usually well outside of our preferred timetable. Because I don’t know anything about you, your life, your process, or God’s process with you, I can’t guarantee what the end of your grieving will look like. Hell, I can’t even guarantee what the end of my grieving will look like. But I have to think that as scary and as painful as grieving can be, it’s better than burying our emotions, trying to paint a happy face on, and then leaking passive aggressively all over our friends. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. Be honest with God. And if it requires so, be honest with trustworthy people you’re in relationship with. I know it hurts, but I’d rather that than the painted face. If you would rather the painted face though, I mean hey, no shame, we’re all just trying to figure it out. But if you need me, I’ll be in the corner crying.

 

“The quickest way to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west chasing after it, but to head east into the darkness until you finally reach the sunrise.”

Musings on Marriage

Okay guys, before I begin this post, I feel like I’m obligated to tell you that we’re headed in a new direction. Not 100% sure what that is yet, but I’m going to be expanding this from just a Fashion blog to like, a Life blog? It’ll include fashion, art, crafts, and a lot of my musings. Again, I’m not quite yet sure what it’s going to look like, I’m taking a couple months to brainstorm. But if in the meantime, I get inspired and feel like I got shit to say then I shall post it, as I am doing now.

Also, other thing I should mention, is that if you are watching or intend to watch Aziz Ansari’s new show Master of None, have not yet finished the first season, and do not wish to see spoilers, I highly suggest you stop reading now. The first paragraph describes the entire finale lol. But if that’s not you, then by all means forge ahead! Cheers!

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Okay so I just finished watching Master of None and I have so many feelings. In the season finale, Dev and his girlfriend attend a wedding where the bride and groom share ridiculous vows about being 100% in and never having any fears or doubts about their relationship. Upon hearing this, Dev freaks out because he wasn’t positive he was 100% sure about his own relationship. He tells his girlfriend who, instead of hearing his fears and examining them as his own issue without making it about herself, freaks out because she feels like he’s saying he doesn’t want to be with her. And then HE, instead of hearing her fears and assuaging them while still trying to successfully communicate his own, decides that they should each write on pieces of paper what “percentage sure” they are that their relationship is gonna go all the way.

I know, even recounting it makes me almost burst into hives, it was literally the worst idea ever. As you might have guessed, since it was IMPOSSIBLE for them to have predicted each other’s exact number, hers ended up being slightly lower than his and because of that they broke up. This whole thing, like I said, makes me want to crawl in a hole and die.

First of all, being 100% sure about the future of your relationship is literally impossible. I’m not sure how many of you guys are hip to this but we can’t tell the future. Surprise! And no amount of star gazing, or tarot reading is going to help that. As, thankfully, a smarter character on the show pointed out, the percentage sure you are about your relationship will fluctuate. Sometimes you’ll feel good, sometimes you’ll feel bad, but what doesn’t change is the decision you made to try, which I’ll address more in a second.

The other worry Dev brought up is not knowing if his girlfriend is the person he is “supposed to be with forever”. But… I feel like the whole idea of “supposed to be together” is bullshit. You literally choose— if you are with someone forever, it’s not because you were “supposed to be”. It’s because you decided. And the thing about forever is that it’s every minute, every second. Do I know if I will love you forever? No, because I can’t tell the future. But also Yes, because I’m loving you now.
And now.
And now.
*a few minutes pass*
And now.

That’s how people get to forever, it’s just a bunch of “nows”, one after the other.

I was also struck by the idea that once you’re married, the window of time to do “crazy shit” is damn near closed. All it takes is children to put that last nail in the coffin and you are essentially stationary for the rest of your life. Am I the only one who thinks that’s ridiculous? Okay the children part, definitely. Because those little shits will consume your entire life and never look back. But I mean marriage? Like okay ya if you marry someone, there’s one more person you have to consider before making big decisions like that. But I see no reason why, if your partner has a heart for adventure as well, you can’t just both go. Or even if they can’t, or you just want a solo mission and you won’t be gone for that long, why can’t you just go?

Maybe I’m “too independent”. Maybe that’s not how you’re “supposed to do marriage”. I dunno, I just— I feel like I understand why marriage is hard but at the same time I don’t understand it at all. My therapist told me most of the work of being in a successful relationship is working on yourself, and like everything else, I’m pretty sure she’s right. The hard part is learning to decipher what you’re feeling and communicate it in a constructive way. But once you’ve learned that, and you’ve chosen a partner who’s also learned that, all you have to do is keep doing that. Right? Like I understand I’m 26 and have never been married but after observing successful and unsuccessful relationships for many, many moons, I feel like all it boils down to is communication. Because we will change. Your partner will change, you will change… Hopefully it will be towards growth. But I feel like as long as you can communicate your change, it will result in growing together, which I think is how “forever” happens.

The show also illuminated the idea that marriage is a crapshoot anyway because you marry whomever you “happen to be dating” at the “time that people usually get married”. Which, while understanding the sentiment, I disagree with. It’s not like choosing someone to marry is like spinning the Wheel of Fortune and wherever it lands is who you’re stuck with. There is some happenstance involved of course, as there is with all of life, but my hope would be that by the time you’re of “marrying age” and are considering marrying someone, it’s not just because they were present at the appointed time, but because you have done work on yourself to emotionally mature and they have also done work on themselves to emotionally mature and that’s why you’ve started dating. And marriage happens, not because you both feel you’re “supposed to”, or because it’s “the time people get married”, but because you’ve both decided—you’ve both taken the agency, to WORK. “I will not stop loving you.” That is, I will not stop trying to look out for you. Trying to understand you. Trying to support you. Trying to learn you.  It’s literal effort. It’s a practice. And sometimes you’ll nail it and sometimes you won’t but the point is to keep trying, which is what I was referring to earlier. And I think in that trying, we grow ourselves, and maybe that’s why we do it.