Monday, May 20, 2013

Muddling through, but with panache?

Life post-college has been a journey of second-guessing my intuition, inclinations and ability to make decisions. Should I apply for this job or that job? Should I try for graduate school, and if so, which schools? Which programs?

And then, even when I get the job: Should I take it? When I'm working 40 hours a week at the job: Should I be looking for a different job? When I get accepted into graduate school: Should I enroll? When I decide not to enroll in graduate school: Is this an indefinite hiatus from higher learning or should I just try again next year?

I think to myself, I should feel liberated, free and excited that I have so many options before me--but I can't help but feel overwhelmed and a bit distressed. All these huge life choices of where to work, where to study, where to live involve stakes higher than I've ever known before and for once--because I'm an "adult"--these choices are fully mine. I'm making them for myself. I'm responsible for them. shit.

As I mull over potential jobs, schools and programs to study, I've noticed that a couple of my older, wiser mentors are perplexed that I doubt myself so much. If "the heart wants what the heart wants," why do I often assume that my "wants" and desires are selfish, misguided or just plain wrong?

Well, it's because when I've "listened to my heart" and gone fully with my "gut," it's sometimes gotten me into trouble. I'm talking about suffering and I'm talking about failure, both of which I go to great lengths to avoid at any cost. Early in college I was super pumped to work with Spanish-speaking folks, which led me to YouthCare's Casa de los Amigos--which was one of the darkest and difficult times of my life. When I graduated from college I was excited to look for jobs outside of social work--like working in retail or the food industry--but that was a complete bust. Why am I afraid of my own longings and passions? Because when I go for my dreams, it can--at times--be uncomfortable and discouraging.

Sometimes I pray those kinds of cop-out prayers to God: "Just show me EXACTLY what you want me to do, where you want me to go, and I'll go!" All this time self-reflecting and trying to "discern" and surrender all of my plans to God--it's just so murky! Ambiguous. Unresolved.

I'm going to keep trying to "listen to my heart" and not doubt myself so much. I'm going to go for the things that interest me and lay myself on the line, even if it means facing rejection and having to be flexible when the timing doesn't work out. You know, I wanna be fucking fearless.

I hope God rewards fearlessness.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Free to Be

Yesterday I received in the mail a bottle of "Riots Not Diets" 3-free indie nail polish from Plump Polish, a brand recently launched by fat activist bloggers Kyla and Margitte. Each of their fun and quirky colors are named after a different blogger ("Riots Not Diets" is the name of Margitte's blog) and include colorful confetti! I was surprised how excited I was to receive and try out new nail polish. Like, I was really delighted. Why do I find so much pleasure and solace and satisfaction in painting my nails? I don't really know. It's therapeutic to me, and that's all that matters.

So what if nail polish is a conformist way of performing my gender? So what if its unnatural-looking and artificial? It's one hour a week where I'm doing something utterly and completely mindless, where I don't have to analyze things or be intelligent and articulate and self-aware.

Last Saturday I attended a six-hour long retreat meant for a time of silence and listening to God. I fell asleep three times. It's so hard to transition from "work" April into praying April. I still feel like I need to be super competent, "on top of things," focused and "in the zone" when I'm with God. I feel like I need to be thankful for all of the right things, and praise him instead of being self-involved, and have all these deep questions for him, and know exactly how to express my needs and desires to him, and pay attention without my mind veering.

And yet the phrase from the Bible readings that stuck out to me most at the retreat was "just be there" (from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of Matthew 6:6-7 in The Message).


I've been considering to myself lately, "Who do I feel safe with?" Who do I feel safe enough with that my "just being there" is enough--I don't have to "perform to the best of my abilities"? In those safe relationships, I can exhale mentally because there is no performance compenent to our relationship. I'm not expected to be my "best self." I'm just expected to be myself.

Whew, I cannot wait to spend time with Rachel tonight so that I can just be me. ilu, Rachel. Happy Friday, everyone!