Spoiler Alert: This is one of THOSE blogs
My love affair with blogs first began my junior year when an upperclassmen shared with me a post by Sarah Bessey that had to do with doubt, questions, faith, Haiti — things I had been sharing with her. I fell in love. With blogs (not Sarah). If you’re not a hard-core blog follower like me, then you don’t know about this thing that many bloggers do: They share links to even more blogs and articles. So my one blog became two and two turned to four . . . until I was avidly following about fifty blogs. One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend morning was to curl up for a few hours and catch up on all of my blogs. Until I realized I might have a problem, hosted a personal blog intervention, and decided to cut back a little. Because that’s how I do things. I don’t do moderation. I’m either going to eat the whole bag of chips or nothing at all.
I once read an interview with an author who said something along the lines of, “You know you’ve arrived as a writer when you can read someone else’s writing and not wish you had written it.” I’m not sure why, but I hated that. Maybe because that was a feeling that I had all the time when reading other people’s written word, and it wasn’t something I thought would ever go away. Recently, I heard a writer on a podcast talk about how whenever she would read other people’s writing online, blogs or essays, she would be extremely envious. This was how she realized it was something she wanted to be doing.
I’m familiar with that feeling. When I read blogs or essays or poems, I frequently find myself thinking, I wish I had written that. I wish I could write like that. So even though I toyed with the idea of starting a blog, and some people had suggested it to me, I kept that idea locked up tight somewhere in the back of mind. Because I don’t have anything valuable to say. I have nothing new to put out into the world. Because it’s scary to want something. Because what if you suck?! Because what if you don’t connect with people? Because what if? What if.
And also, I’ve become the kind of person who’d rather discuss how I’m afraid I’m becoming a “Belieber” or how I have a fetish for reality tv and Keeping up with the Kardashians is probably the best thing ever since pre-made pb&js than about how the world is falling apart or how our lives have just become big existential crises. I’d rather discuss the recent plot shifts on The Mindy Project than the refugee crisis. Because I cry enough in my life already. While I certainly post opinionated and profound articles on social media frequently, I find that more and more when hard issues come up in face to face conversation I go quiet — I find, sometimes, there’s not much more to say. And, I’m certainly not going to write about Justin Bieber or the Kardashians on my blog.
So, this is how I approached starting this whole thing. I can’t even call it a blog really, because it’s not my own platform. I decided to “start a blog” because that’s what people do when they move or travel abroad. Right? It seemed only natural. But, I didn’t have any purpose in mind. I didn’t know if I would use it for myself, as a way to share stories with friends and family, or as a travel blog (all of which I’ve done a pretty crummy job of). I also had all of these established blogs that I was following to compare mine to.
Before my last post I was turning all of this over in my mind. What was the purpose of this so-called blog, anyways? Don’t I need to have a focus? Don’t I need to offer something to people? To help them? To provide them with something? A lesson? Entertainment? Something?
I’d already found myself obsessed with how many views or “reads” a post was getting. Checking frequently. The numbers stoking or dampening my ego, depending on the amount of views.
This crazy thing happened.
I did a headstand.
Against the wall and probably for less than one second. BUT STILL PEOPLE!
Take a moment if you need to process this exciting and crazy thing.
It’s okay if you need to step away from your computer for a second and take a deep breath.
Will someone grab the smelling salts? I think I saw someone in the back pass out from shock and excitement. (That’s still a thing, right? Smelling salts? But anyway…I digress).
I know you’re probably asking yourself, “Okay. I don’t get it. What’s the big deal? Why am I reading this again? Wait. Who even wrote this? Do I know her?”
Well, now you’re just being rude.
Let me explain.
I never intended to do a headstand. I have followed these online blogilates videos off and on for the past couple of years. Cassey, the . . . teacher? is everything I would want in someone forcing me to exercise. She’s almost sickly sweet, positive, quirky, and makes dumb jokes. I love it, but she’s not for everyone. She creates these monthly calendars with daily workout videos. I’ve attempted to complete the beginner’s calendar multiple times but have yet to actually finish one. ANYWAYS. One of the days has a video about how to do a headstand. Cassey explains that it took her about three months of practicing everyday to finally do a headstand not against the wall, and she explains how to start. Last summer, I gave it a shot. And gave up after about 30 seconds. This was NOT for me. I was okay with that. I didn’t really care if I could do a headstand anyways.
Over the past Christmas break I had a lot of free time on my hands, and I started working through her beginner’s calendar again. I got to the day that had the headstand video and knew I wasn’t even going to watch it. I didn’t even think about trying, remembering my failed 30 second attempt from the year before. I finished the first two videos and then, for some absurd reason, started watching the headstand video.
Without even thinking I found myself putting my borrowed yoga mat against the wall and setting up to do a headstand. It was as if my body was abducted by aliens.
(If there was ever proof that aliens exist, it would be this moment).
What are you thinking? Headstands are not for you. You already know that! I berated myself. And yet, here I was, following the instructions. As if I was the type of person who could just attempt to do a headstand! I think all those blogs I’d been reading about “showing up” and “being brave” had just brainwashed me into actually following through for once.
Here’s the deal: headstands are scary. Throwing your body up over yourself and expecting to be able to hold yourself up like that is hard and scary. Especially if you aren’t actually in shape.
So here I was showing up and being brave. And, once again, failing. After the first thirty seconds of trying to kick my legs up over my head without success, I lay down on the yoga mat, breathing hard. This is stupid, I thought, Why am I trying this? I don’t care about headstands. This just isn’t for me.
I tried again. I’m a little stubborn sometimes. I landed hard on my knee on my tile floor and rolled onto my back in pain. Oh my gosh. That’s it. This is over. I’m hurting myself now. This is dumb.
And yet . . .
Okay, just keep trying for five minutes. That’s all. If you can’t do it, no big deal. No one has to know.
I set a timer. I tried again. I fell on the same knee. “Ow ow ow oow,” I moaned. I looked at my timer. I had about 30 seconds left. Okay, I breathed, one more time. I kneeled in front of the wall, breathing heavy and slowly. I kicked my legs up and felt my feet hit the wall and my legs straighten out. Oh my gosh! I did it! I thought just before landing down on my knee again. I probably looked ridiculous. I couldn’t have even been leaning against the wall for a full second. But. I still did it. Even though my timer was up, I tried it again and succeeded again.
I can’t explain the rush of adrenaline and excitement. I felt invincible, as if I could do anything. It was the same feeling I got after riding those roller coasters the past summer. It was a feeling I wish I could bottle up and keep for times when everything just seems impossible and too much. Something akin to felix felicis. I couldn’t keep it to myself. I sent annoying snapchats to people who didn’t care. I just did a headstand!
I called my mom. “I know it seems silly . . .” I hedged. She laughed, “Well, it’s probably not something you can shout about to the world.”
But I disagreed. Here I am, a person who can barely balance enough to walk in a straight line and fail miserably at push ups, and I just did a headstand. Just because I tried. How was this not something that I could shout about to the world?!
And because now I can´t do much of anything that seems like a big deal in my life without crying, after the ecstacy of accomplishment settled down a little, I cried. I sat down on the mat, my back leaning against the wall. Why did it take a year of heartache for me to believe I was capable of attempting scary things?
It may seem dark, but now, like with most things in my life that seem hard or scary, things that leave me doubting, asking myself Why am I doing this, I think of the past year. Specifically, I think of that weird, eventful day in the hospital with my mom and sisters in the icy storms of early March. And I picture myself one hand against the lamppost outside my mom´s house, doubled over, sick from nerves the day before I left for Spain. When I think of these things, I feel as if I can do anything. If I can survive those days, that year, then I can survive anything, including a headstand. At least, it feels that way.
And I cried because I want my dad´s death to be measurable — to be worth something. I want to have one of those cheesy, cliche stories that create justice and simplify everything into a Sunday school lesson in growth, something comprehensible, instead of the mess that grief is: Because this terrible thing happened in my life, I learned such and such. Or I have been able to impact thousands of people after this traumatic experience. You know the story. It´s an ashes to Phoenix kind of cliche. But. The loss of my dad is not worth the pride of a one second headstand or a roller coaster ride or a first kiss or a trans-atlantic plane ride. Where was the balance? I want the scales to measure equal. But they don´t. And they won´t.
It probably seems very minimal, but it was a combination of these moments that I knew why I wanted to keep “blogging.” It was for messy and proud nights like these. And here is where this becomes one of those posts. You know. Those cheesy ones where the blogger tells her readers about how amazing they are and they just need to realize and show up and be brave and blah blah blah. Yawn. The internet is full of them.
But here it is anyways.
You are capable of the extraordinary.
Whatever that is to you. Whether that’s doing a 1 second handstand or moving across the world. Whether that’s getting out of bed every morning or having that hard conversation. Or . . . well, whatever!
Don´t wait for the world or fate to force you to be brave before you can recognize it in yourself. I would like to believe that´s not necessary.
Really, I’m writing this to myself. Because that high after accomplishment only lasts so long. And even though I practiced doing a headstand almost every day the following week, I have since then started school back up again and . . . well . . . it’s been a while. (I’ve also been reading about how I probably was doing it incorrectly and could really injure myself if I don’t do it correctly). And now I’m afraid to try again. And now I’m trying to figure out my plans for the fall. And now I´m thinking about scary future things. And now I´m having hard conversations with friends and family. And now I´m still struggling everyday with Spanish. And now it’s hard to remember that feeling of pride and strength and joy and accomplishment and extraoridnariness after that headstand.
So. I still don’t really know what this is — this weird blog thing that I’m doing. I don’t know if I’ll keep writing regularly (if you can call once a month regularly). I don’t know if I’m writing it for myself or for others. But I know that it’s mine. And, I think I still have something to say. Even if it is just that I did a one second headstand. So, I’m going to own it. And I´m going to show up.