I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions this year. Not because I couldn’t think of anything — I definitely could. But really, it was because for the first time in maybe my entire life, I wasn’t looking forward to the new year. That feels blasphemous to write, but it’s true. The funny thing is, it’s not because 2013 was awesome. I couldn’t WAIT for the year to be done. I realized I didn’t want 2014 to come because that would mean making some plans for this year. Making plans for this year means making plans around living in New York. Making plans around living in New York highlights how uncertain everything is for us right now, and how we really don’t know what is in store for us over the next 3-5 years. And highlighting the uncertainty and the unknowing makes me anxious, because we’re hitting our 30s this year, and a year ago life was totally different, and now we’re nowhere near where we thought we’d be, literally and figuratively. Ain’t that the beauty of life?
I’ve NEVER been one to not embrace change — and especially the dawn of a new year — without a lot of positivity, hope, and warmth. I can’t think of a single time I’ve ever been so ambivalent to time marching on. So in a way, it makes me feel guilty. Here I am, in a brilliant city that many people would love to live in, and all I can think about is what’s next. And in this very happy, peppy line of work called blogging, all the pins and quotes admonishing me that I can “choose happiness” make me feel even more guilty. (On that note, let it be said: sometimes, I think, you just feel the way you feel. You have my permission to not be happy all the freaking time.)
I was describing this delightful cocktail of emotions to a close confidante and she pointed out a pattern of behavior I’m wont to do: make everything super black and white. In other words, compartmentalize, compartmentalize, compartmentalize. It’s necessary for emotional survival sometimes, but in situations like this, I’m learning it’s not. I’ve realized I paint everything with such a broad, bisecting stroke: either I’m grateful and happy to be where I am, and if I’m not, it means I’m ungrateful and unhappy. Bad! So then I fall into the trap of when I don’t feel one (positive) way, I convince myself it must indicate something (negative) about me. Does that make sense? I’m not alone in that trap, right?
In any case, as I was telling the close confidante that I wished I could just fast forward to the good part, or immediately address all these uncomfortable emotions, or do SOMETHING/ANYTHING to change how I feel, she stopped me and said, “Maybe you’re just stuck right now. And maybe that’s okay.” I’ve been thinking about it ever since (and here’s where I tie this super meta/therapy post back to resolutions). So often we tell ourselves we must be moving forward, pushing, improving, bettering, doing more, being more. But sometimes, for any number of reasons, that’s just not possible. Instead of making yourself feel guilty about it, maybe you can be okay with being stuck for a while.
There are some major advantages to being stuck. You experience a certain measure of discomfort, probably because you’re not in control of something major (um, hello, any fellow control freaks out there?). But the discomfort is good — we really aren’t in control of much of anything, so I like to think that the discomfort is a gentle reminder. I lean into it, and embrace it (hard as that often is!). Being stuck has also meant I check in with myself more about how I’m feeling. Those self check-ins have allowed me to be more honest with Joe about where I am, and have opened up so many wonderful, frank conversations between us about our hopes and dreams. But the best part about being stuck is it has allowed me to forgive myself, to go easy. I am so. damn. hard on myself, all the time. Taking a minute to let myself be stuck — to not push an agenda, be more, improve, or any of that — has just allowed me to sit with who I am in this very moment and accept how I’m feeling. It’s so much easier than pushing. I like to imagine myself as stuck in some mudpit. It gets messy when I push and move around and try and get out of it; if I stay still and stuck, life’s a little bit cleaner, and eventually, the mud will dry up.
I was walking around the ‘hood recently and snapped this picture of balloons stuck in a tree. I wondered what happened to them — like, who released this pretty, colorful bunch of balloons, and if it was an accident or on purpose or what. But at the end of the day, there they were in the tree, bright against the winter sky. Just chillin’, for now.
Image by Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese