This winter, living has felt heavy and lonely. The rain strikes me as it did a year ago, when I was unemployed, the feelings even more open than they were then. The year passed has not been quite so forgiving in recent months. The world is very large, the world is above my pay grade, and I am very small.
When my friend Canice and I had dinner in January, a frequent Friday night occurrence, something in me mended. Our conversation was long and peaceful, full of learning. She told me I could still write; she reminded me of what I’d always known. I had spent all that week crying, thinking, and having conversations. I had spent all that week seeking new things and advice, teaching myself to be careful with my words. I had not spent that week writing. The questions she and other friends ask prompt me to think about things I haven’t considered, make me more insightful. This is part of what keeps me capable of navigating, of living.
I’m relearning skills I learned long ago, like writing, interviewing, saving, holding in my tears, recognizing signs of abuse, and knowing when to call it a day. I’m navigating situations graciously. I’m learning to seek closeness to the people I love when I’m depressed, instead of pushing them away.
Year after year, the ocean will still abide, even though she will rise with the impending climate change. Years from now, the winter will be kinder to me again. So is the flow of seasons, the inconsistency of emotion and economy. The burnout culture that I and so many other millennials struggle through will probably still exist. We will scrounge together enough money to visit the people we love for the weddings and holidays, to feed ourselves and pay our Spotify subscriptions, and little else. We will learn to listen to the call in us when it tells us to move on. We will learn to forgive ourselves when we do not listen. We will seek the connections that allow us to navigate situations with grace.
The universal feeling of being unable to catch up and move forward, get ahead, has struck me daily for a long time. The ability to create for myself more than what I have been given, more time, more money, more joy, has not come easily, if at all. Hacking life is impossible. Being a young adult, a millennial, and even just living, is not an exact science. You begin to recognize the behaviors and skills required, the connections to people that are truly in it with you. You begin to trust them and yourself more.
I’m rethinking my relationships, my positions in the lives of those around me, and the way I look at many things. I’m getting words and feelings out into the daylight and letting them go. As much as I have the liberty to do so, I’m saying no to things I don’t want to do and navigating away from the people I don’t want to spend time on.
The rain and I don’t get along. It seeps through my boots and makes my socks wet. It runs my mascara. It means my cat can’t go outside. I am good at many things, but best of all of convincing myself things will not become good again when they are bad.
They will, and they do. The seasons will pass into each other. In the summer, I’ll sit on a restaurant patio with my little sister when she comes to visit again. I’m reconfiguring my view, looking to my future with greater optimism, with the wisdom of the people that have inspired me. Vancouver and I are still in love; she holds me. She looks after my cat. I’ll still write about this city and all she has taught me, even after she hurts me a few more times, after I’ve learned to release what I don’t need out into the world for others to love in my stead.
The key is the connection, the simple humanity of it. The little things that make us ask ourselves, do other people do that? Do others spend months on the same few paragraphs, unable to properly navigate good, heavy thoughts into words? Do others long to reconnect with that friend I haven’t talked to in a year, the girl I might have been in love with? Do others think about music, time, and relationships like I do? Do others have the same weird habits I do?
Yes, always yes.
Everyone has that same longing, but no one has mine. Everyone has the need for validation, to know they are not alone in what they do and who they are. It’s the connection that motivates us to navigate this universe. However, no one else spends the same hours in their own head, connecting the same events and feelings as I do. No one else has the exact same relationships with the people in my life I do. No one can connect through me, with the same attention to detail, the same space, tears, and music, as I can. No one has experienced the past few months, or 23 years, the exact same way I have.
When I am most caught up in the weight and timing of it all, that is very important; that pulls me out of it. I do not know why. I don’t know why I feel and think as I do, or why I have these particular relationships with God, the world, and myself. I don’t know why certain details matter so much over the passage of time, or why the specifics of my moments and struggles are so significant.
But they do; they are.