The Year of “IDK, and that’s OK”
Ahh, it feels good to be writing again. To see these words exist on a digital piece of paper feels like letting go of a big belly breath of stale air that I’ve held in for too long.
My self-diagnosed writer’s block this past year happened after I wrote my being cheated on, part 2 essay on January 28, 2018. It was the final chapter in the book of Me, Post-Mike (2014–2017). The collection of essays were published, consumed, and catalogued in the anthology of my life, safely put on a shelf to collect the dust that it will inevitably attract over time. That was that, goodbye former you.
Except, that was that. I had nothing to write about anymore. For a long time, depression was my creative fuel. Heartbreak helped me find meaning to words that I never knew before. Seeds of anger let empathy and self-awareness bloom in my soul. I was poetic and insightful AF, but with an absolute clean slate inches away waiting for me, it felt like the ‘writer’ version of me had faded away too.
I was in a lull.
Until new emotional distresses called uncertainty, anxiety, and exhaustion came along.
Oh, this is new. Yeah…THIS IS 30.
And with that, I welcome you to the “the IDK and that’s OK” year. _____________________________________
2018 was all about dualities.
I cried on my 30th birthday. Not a sad cry, but an overwhelmed cry. I felt the highs and lows of my twenties in a single breath.
Now, epiphanies don’t happen that often. But you know the feeling — a deep gut-wrenching, soul-crushing emotion that leaves you shook. This one happened in a bagel shop. I had just chowed down on some clam chowder and was basking my one arm in the sun while tapping my foot to a Taylor Swift song. I was beaming after reading the advice I had collected for my 30th birthday, my heart was full. But, then I read the future letter to my 30-year old self. And my heart kind of…sank.
It was like a flashback of every doubt I ever had, except every tear was wiped away, every anxiety felt at ease, every dark corner was illuminated — it was like past me patted present me on the back — she didn’t even know what the future looked like, but she promised me that she was going to put in the work to get here. The funny thing is that here isn’t even a tangible place I can point to—and when I got to that metaphorical finish line—I bawled. I was so, so tired. My late twenties was all about running and proving that I was a better person than the the crumpled up human being I was before: do, do, do; win, win, win; push, push, push.
I had measured my growth in these milestones people couldn’t even see. But that eventually became my superpower—those micro-changes in my perspective showed up in the way that I showed up. In the kindness I finally gave myself. In the deep conversations I had with friends. In the fine-tuning of the layers on the inside so I could operate on the outside. I felt immense pride. I wanted to hug the versions of me who so desperately crawled to get here. But, I also felt extreme exhaustion. My past actions felt like knee-jerk reactions to something — either internal or external — resulting in a high-strung anxiety that kept me running on 100% when all I had was 50%. It had become unsustainable.
So, once I hit 30, I had run out of gas. I was a new-ish person who had just shed the past 4 years of my life looking for some sort of meaning. And now that I was here, I didn’t know what the fuck I was supposed to be doing. I still don’t know (FYI, NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING). I have zero plans. I’m the most untethered that I’ll ever be in my life: single, no kids, and relatively OK income—and yet it feels daunting. The gnawing anxiety? Time. The people around me are starting their new lives…without me. There are more engagements, weddings, kids, and houses on my NewsFeed than ever before. The clock seems like it’s ticking faster and I’m not moving as fast as I should be. And all I have to show for it is…what?
I. can. do. anything.
I. cannot. compute.
Which, fortunately and unfortunately, set the tone for the rest of the year.
There was a duality to not knowing, but exploring what this question mark could mean.
And for that to happen, I had to actively change my mindset from “do” to “be”.
Appreciate, don’t over-analyze.
Connect, don’t compare.
Pause, don’t pass go.
It was fucking hard.
2018 was like navigating the uncertainty of what’s next and trying to make the most of what is.
There was so much discomfort in not seeing a “win” right away. Sometimes it felt like apathy. On other days, it felt like rejuvenation. I was battling two contrasting emotions at any given time: joy vs. depression; focus vs. confusion; alone time vs. loneliness; kind of like a tug-of-war fight in my own mind. Who won was dependent on if I welcomed these situations with gratitude or with frustration. And it was honestly, 50/50.
It wasn’t a huge milestone year for me, but it was a stepping stone to help me enter this new decade, like a senior who had graduated from my 20’s but am now a freshman of my 30’s. I’m a bit wiser, but still a relatively young-ish chicken (who suffers from an inexplicable achey back and gnarly 3-day hangovers).
If anything, this was my transition year. Wobbly. What is certain, however, is that was has transpired was meant to be and that uncertainty can be okay. Things will play out the way that they’re supposed to be. I learned to trust that my current self will do what is needed for my future self—and that the seeds I planted this year probably won’t show up til it’s ready.
So, in the spirit of duality, all I really know is that I don’t know…and that’s OK.
2019. The Year of Renewals.
I close out 2018 with a cup of instant coffee and a dying plant. That’s pretty much my vibe right now. I have more questions than I have answers. I am more curious than I am certain. But, I do have one goal based on what has given me continuous joy: connections.
It’s the year of the “frienaissance” for me, renewing old friendships and making new ones through a small group or 1:1 activity or conversation. At 30 and beyond, making time for friends is such an effort with busy schedules and google invites, but it’s an effort worth making. Sometimes it feels like a surface-level catch up though and we just need prompts to open up. I want to change that. Goal? 2–3 frienaissances a month. (oh and something will be happening on the IG).
That’s all I can say for now.
Tata. Be well.
*this is essay 18 of many. we shall see if i keep writing ;)