Most people who read a lot early in life don’t have perfect vision. Staring at things close to you from a young age compromises your ability to see the signs, and the white board, and the fictional worlds setting the stage for a early addiction to escape. Dorky glasses and all, I pleaded with the universe to one day leave the war torn mental landscape I fought in everyday to make it to school, rearrange a cluttered home, follow rules I didn’t understand, entertain my siblings, and do all of my homework. I prayed that leaving home would prove the world to be a better place than fear-forged parenting wanted me to believe.
I’m not writing this to say the world isn’t wonderful. I’m not writing this because I need others to know that my world hasn’t always been kind to me. I’m writing this because I have committed my heart to reorient itself towards love: love of self, love of friends, love of family, and even love of enemies and strangers.
Social media may be rotting our brains as I speak, but when I was loneliest, those who engaged with me through it reminded me that there are so many people rooting for me. When I wore a personality sewn out of pain and self-loathing, many people met me where I was, as friends, with understanding and kindness in the face of mania, drunkenness, and downright meanness. There were of course others who took advantage of my unobvious insecurities to take little pieces of me as souvenirs back to their locker rooms and gossip circles. But I choose to forgive the latter and hold close the former, because I’m overcome with gratitude for those who choose to love me for me (no matter what stage I’m at in life).
I rang in the new year this morning with acquaintances at a crowded bar, racked with anxiety before the I finally reached the buzz I needed to calm my nerves. One in my company didn’t have as much consideration for Detroit dance floor etiquette as I apparently have gained in my 10 months of living here. Another in my company was so high he couldn’t be brought to care about anything really, and I found myself envying him just a tiny bit. But, what I took away from the chaos is really important: it might not have been the perfect night, but that’s actually great! It was a night, nothing more and nothing less, and there are many more nights ahead of me that I can craft to be more satisfying. Just because it was the first night of the new year and I had a typical night out (and in some ways a worse one), it doesn’t set the tone for anything aside from the memories.
Some of you reading this might be thinking “Duh, Calandra, it’s not that serious”. But trauma-brain is colorblind – sometimes there are shades of grey, sure, but for the most part everything is either Black or white. One of the hardest parts about healing is reteaching yourself to honor the variety in life, and we don’t have a lot of that right now. Instead of doing the work to understand, to forgive, to make the hard decisions, we’d rather throw the undesirables in others and in ourselves out of sight, under the jail, or “cancel” them from our minds, slapping our hands together to clear the messiness and move on with other tasks of a mentally manufactured simplicity.
Newsflash: life is worth living because it’s messy.
This year, I’ve accomplished some real milestones (I quit smoking, I restarted therapy, I loved more and I learned more), but the resolutions I wrote in my journal last year are still my resolutions not only for this new year, but for this decade:
“This year I want to craft my life for me, and for my own happiness.
I want to move away from anything causing me sadness, and move toward peace.
I want to live a full and varied life.
Yes, I want to conquer this life.
I want to be happy,
I want to live well,
I want to love the woman I am.
I want to establish boundaries and hold them.
I want to foster and nurture meaningful relationships with talented, creative, kind people.
I want to feel good about me, my life, and my decisions.
I want to find the strength to open up more, and the wisdom to get the timing right.
I want to find myself, and help her grow.
I want to quiet my demons so that I can listen to the whispers guiding me towards destiny.
I want to write more, create more, embody me more.
Yes, I’m scared, but I will give it my best shot.
Here’s to 2019 – no more heartbreak, no more stagnation, no more playing around or wallowing in self-pity.
It’s time to BOSS UP!”
2019, for me, was spent building the foundation to achieve these resolutions, now it’s time to execute.
I hope you take time today to reflect on what you truly want from life. I hope that, like me, you know that all things worth achieving require great sacrifice of a lot of things we are constantly trying to convince ourselves are most important. I’ve found the key to success, and it is timing. If you also took this year to heal and to live and to love, you lived well. Now it’s time to live even better.