Quarantine Update, Travel Plans & Societal Pressure

When I don’t have much work, I’ve found that I turn to creative outlets as a way to pass time. Whether that be someone else’s creativity or my own, it helps me escape for a couple of hours from the reality of what this life has turned in to. I avoid social media and binge watching TV during the day at all costs. Not because I don’t enjoy these things, but the thought of laying in bed watching TV or scrolling through other peoples mindless quarantine thoughts makes me nauseous. It breeds insecurity in me that I would rather avoid.

It’s been so easy lately to get caught up in my head. I question if and when things will go back to normal. I have small panic attacks at the thought of never being able to travel again. I wonder if I will be able to survive the next 65 years if this is all life will become for us. I honestly think a lot of it has to do with the weather. I normally wouldn’t notice something as insignificant as the weather since my days used to be filled with going to work, meeting my girlfriend for lunch, my second job, going to the gym, etc. but lately, when going outside seems to be my only true form of entertainment and exercise, it’s all I notice.

I don’t check my social media when I wake up first thing in the morning anymore. I check the weather; can I sit on the porch and drink my morning tea? Can I read or write in the sun? Can I do yoga in the yard? Can we go for a walk after work or a hike this weekend? Most likely, the obvious answer is no.

So instead, I have been filling my days with reading and writing, working as much as I can, trying to convince myself to exercise and stretch and trying to create content. I would like to blog more, and I think I’ve said this in past posts, but I struggle with inspiration sometimes. I don’t want to feel forced to meet a self-enforced deadline of weekly posts. I’d rather write when I have something to write about. This keeps my posts more authentic and true to the feelings I’m having.

If I wrote every week, it would be the typical “15 Books to Read in Quarantine” or “15 Best YouTube Quarantine Workouts” and no one wants to read something like that. Disclaimer: No one wants to write something like that either. No offense to those who write these articles but those are reserved for people who want recognition but don’t actually have a single creative bone in their body or affinity for writing.

I picture some of the other journalists in my graduating class doing something similar. Truly, there should be a written requirement before you’re accepted into any journalism program because I can’t even put into words how torturous it was to go over some of our written work in class and listening to how clunky and grammatically incorrect some of these “journalists” work was. If that’s the type of person that is being groomed nation wide to be responsible for insightful, true journalism, no wonder the media is in so much trouble. I’m just glad the majority of those students in my class went on to become fashion and beauty bloggers.

Not that I’m doing anything monumental myself but at least it’s because I didn’t want to and not because I didn’t have the talent for it. Whoops.

I’m getting off topic. Back to creating content, my girlfriend and I posted our first YouTube video last night if anyone wants to check it out. Creating content with someone you’re in a relationship is actually incredibly fun. It takes the pressure off of what’s going on around us and we can focus on each other and just messing around on camera. It’s created a lightness in our relationship that hasn’t been there these last couple of weeks. Life has been terribly stressful and putting aside time to come up with interesting videos we want to film has brought an element to our relationship that we didn’t know we needed.

We’ve also been planning our next trip for when all of this is over. Jumping into that headfirst has been really fun as well. I know a lot of people and couples are probably doing the same thing. When I was battling my anxiety and depression, someone told me that having something to look forward to can drastically change your mood. Whenever I’m feeling low or anxious, I try to plan little things (dates, concerts, movies, etc.) so I’m excited about something in the future. This has proved to be the best way to get through a situation like this, at least for me.

As for what’s been going on in our personal lives, neither of us have lost our jobs. I don’t know who to thank for that because I don’t really believe in a God but the universe has been on our side lately. I did lose my second job for the time being (which contributed to my savings for the home we want to buy one day) and I took a 20% pay cut on my current income but I really have nothing to complain about. I feel so lucky to have a steady income right now even if it’s not as much as it was a few weeks ago.

This whole experience is making me question the monetary value of things. And all I’m going to say is that this questioning is what has inspired the next trip we are going to take. I guess at this point, I’ve alluded to it so much I should just announce our plans. In April of 2022, we are planning to leave our jobs and take 6-7 months to travel across the country in a camper van. We’ve mapped our route at this point and have talked to a handful of people looking to sell their camper vans. We’ve been researching, looking into campgrounds and national parks and budgeting for this big jump we want to take.

At least for me, I want to test the boundaries of my dependency on money and challenge myself to live minimalistically without a set income. If you’ve followed me along from the beginning, you know I’ve already done this when I lived on the road with Rob for 5 months but Rob and I weren’t dating (contrary to what everyone believes) and he had a lot of experience on the road to the point where I could depend on him to keep us safe, navigate and make any necessary repairs given the knowledge of his home on wheels. If you’ve followed me along from the beginning, you also know that I am the happiest when I don’t feel stagnant and I can travel.

With this experience, it’ll be entirely new from start to finish as we navigate our way through purchasing a dependable home for 7 months, living on the road and our relationship. I read a book recently that I recommend everyone reads called To Shake the Sleeping Self about a man who takes 16 months to cycle from Oregon to Patagonia. The intro paragraph is what inspired this trip.

He talked a lot about childhood and how we are so full of wonder and awareness of our surroundings and what we do. As we get older, we slowly feel the societal pressure to go to college, get a good job, marry the opposite gender, buy a home, have kids, etc. in that order and we forget our feelings of wonder and adventure. We forget how we once felt as kids and we forget how to be happy. We become too focused on what we “need” to do and we forget what we’ve craved since we were children – happiness, awareness, curiosity, total awe of our surroundings, adventure.

At 27, he makes a pact with himself that he is going to quit his job at 30 and make this life changing trip in an attempt to discover who he really is (his sexuality, his religion, the meaning of life). The first thing he did was tell his friends and family about what he was going to do in an attempt to hold himself accountable for his future plans. That way he couldn’t back out when it was time to really leave. So I guess that’s what I’m doing; holding myself accountable for my plans by voicing it to the universe and my readers. You heard it here first: April 2022. Cross-country road trip. 

This is something I have felt like I needed to do since I realized how big the world was but I never felt like I had the time or the money. Honestly, who ever feels like they have the time or the money to do things. No one because we’ve become so dependent on financial/job security that we forget the real purpose of life. It’s not to work until we die. It’s not to save up as much as we can so we have a better retirement. Life is meant to be lived. No matter how rich or how poor you may be, none of it matters if you aren’t happy. I want to challenge this feeling of dependency I have on myself and my financial security.  I want to challenge myself to do something wholeheartedly because I want to. And I want to challenge those who read this to think about the one thing you’ve always wanted to do and what excuses you’ve come up with for why you can’t. Then comment them because I’m curious.

This novel really changed my outlook on life and really inspired me to do something with mine. Not just sit back and wait for time to catch up to me. This whole quarantine thing has slowed time down to an aching crawl but it’s also given me plenty of time to think about the direction I want to take my life and the way I want to live it. I think I’ve struggled to find my voice and my own way of thinking because of what my parents want for me. But I’ve gotten to that age where I’m realizing it’s OK to want something else for my life than what they envisioned. And it’s also OK to have different opinions and values than they do.

I’m really lucky to have parents that support the majority of my choices but I don’t need to apologize when they don’t. After all, the whole point of life is to discover your own identity and what makes you the happiest. If we lived to please other people, especially our parents, we would be more disappointed in ourselves than we would be proud. Going off of that, I often struggle with my relationship with my parents. On the one hand, I have very involved parents, which is great, but on the other hand, their involvement often influences me negatively and makes me feel like I need to live my life to please them.

I’ve learned that taking space from your family is OK. You’re not obligated to have someone in your life, even if they’re your blood. This took me a while to understand. I felt a pressing sense of guilt for being angry at my parents or disagreeing with them. I often felt like I had no choice but to apologize and mend things because we lived under the same roof or because they’re my parents. Now that I’ve moved out, it’s freeing to stand my ground and take the space I think I have deserved for some time now. I feel like I can breath again, and on my own. I’ve taken back a sense of power that I didn’t know I had lost.

I want to end this on a positive note and list some of my favorite books that I’ve read. You can get them used for $2.50 ish on amazon. They’re all different genres and styles but they’re good reads if you’re running low on your stock.

  1. To Shake The Sleeping Self – Jedidiah Jenkins (Genre: non-fiction, memoir, adventure, self-discovery)
  2. Plain Truth – Jodi Picoult (Genre: fiction, murder, cultural)
  3. The Shining/Doctor Sleep (Series)- Stephen King (Genre: fiction, paranormal, horror)
  4. Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn (Genre: fiction, psychological thriller, suspense)
  5. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden (Genre – historical fiction)
  6. The Taker Trilogy – Alma Katsu (Genre: fiction, paranormal romance, fantasy)
  7. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes – Brad Ricca (Genre: historical non-fiction, true crime, biography)
  8. A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout (Genre: non-fiction, suspense/thriller, biography)
  9. Road to Valor – Andres McConnon (Genre: historical non-fiction, heart-warmer, suspense, biography)

As always, thank you for reading and I hope you all are staying safe, healthy and sane during these crazy times.

Starting Therapy Again & Vulnerability

Part of my resolutions this year have included bettering myself; digging deep, uprooting those problems and fears that have taken home in the pits of my stomach and starving them of their fuel. Along with the more standard resolutions (reading more books, spending less time on my phone, working out consistently and trying to eat healthier), I made it a point at the turn of the decade to find a therapist that actually worked for me.

I was always turned off by the idea of therapy. Ashamed by it in a way like I think many of us are. It’s human nature to want to be perfect, to compare ourselves to those around us. With the influence of social media, it’s almost impossible not to see other people’s lives, seemingly so happy, and wonder, what’s the trick? There isn’t a trick. It’s staged because we want people to think we are perfect.

Maybe if they think we’re perfect, we’ll start to think we’re perfect, too. 

It’s true what they say about getting help. It doesn’t happen unless you want it to happen. People can vouch for you, push you, do all of the background work to set you up for success but if you’re not ready, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. I refused it for years.

When my parents were getting divorced, my mom found a few therapists for me to talk to. I remember refusing to even look at them, surrounding myself with toys and crayons on the floor until the hour was up. Jump ahead to high school, I apparently had sessions with a few different therapists and none of them were helpful. I had severe anxiety at the time and don’t remember much of these appointments, just their different colored doors, scented waiting rooms and prescriptions from psychiatrists. College came and went and I filtered through the system of provided care because it was “free” and maybe this would be the right time for me. It never was.

But this year, and whether it’s the turn of the decade or finally feeling like I’m ready to heal, I decided it was my time. The first, and really only thing, we have talked about is vulnerability. More specifically, my problems with being vulnerable. When I reached out to the therapist I see now, I told her I needed help with relationships. It is very hard for me to open up to people and maintain relationships, both familial, romantic and platonic. It’s always been hard for me to keep people around because I get to this point where I throw my walls up and it’s damn near impossible to break them down. If you’re someone who knows me personally, think about it; I’m sure there’s very little that you truly know about me.

It’s instinctive by nature that I am the way that I am. We dove in head first during the first session and I want to use this post to reflect and share what I have learned throughout this process so far in terms of my own fear of being vulnerable.

Before I get into this discussion, I want to preface that I have forgiven my past and those involved in my trauma. I have forgiven myself for those I hurt while I was hurting and in no way do I write this with a vengeful heart. My trauma is my trauma. It can be downplayed and denied by those involved, but it will never change the way I was made to feel about myself and the severity of what I endured. I have forgiven but I have not forgotten and part of this process for me, unfortunately, involves digging up everything I have buried in my heart that my mind refused to remember and accept it as the trauma it genuinely was.

When I told my therapist about what I went through in high school, she explained it as a trauma. She told me, the body holds on to trauma in a way your mind doesn’t. Basically, the defense I put up is a product of how I was treated and the way I reacted in those moments that has been forever ingrained in me. Undoing that is one of the harder things I have done in my life.

I asked her, how can it be a trauma when I wasn’t physically hurt? And she validated what I went through by telling me that I wasn’t sensitive, I didn’t overreact and it was real. My emotions were real. My sadness was real. My suicidal thoughts were real. My pain was real. My experience was real.

I won’t bore you with the details. Simply put, I was badly bullied by a group of guys and girls that I considered my friends. When you think of the popular kids in high school, you think of the jocks and the cheerleaders who are nice to everyone and super inclusive. When I think of the popular kids at my high school, we were partiers and we were mean. I say “we” because collectively, this was the group I fell into by circumstance and the group that I couldn’t escape. And trust me, I had my mean streaks as well, I can’t excuse that, but it undoubtedly was a product of the way I was treated. I became conditioned to think I was inherently mean. There were a lot of people in our friend group that didn’t have a mean bone in their body but they got clumped into this awful perception in my head because although they didn’t do anything to harm me, they didn’t do anything to help me either.

Despite this being a group of maybe 20 people, there are really only three or four names in my head that stand out the most and I link them to a few specific situations that I remember more vividly than my first kiss or even graduation. These are the memories that come rushing towards me at full speed when I think of high school or even when I am walking through the stop & shop in my home town. These are the people I will never forgive and the people I have made myself forget because they don’t deserve the space in my head.

For years, I was made to question myself. I was called sensitive if I overreacted to something someone said to me. I was brought into situations just to be made fun of. I was targeted and tricked and used as a pawn, thrown back and forth across a chess board in an attempt to win the affections of the queen until I became a shell of myself.

My breaking point came one February during my senior year of high school. My ex and I had just broken up and I was devastated beyond comprehension. To think I felt like a shell of myself when we were together, I felt even more unfamiliar in my own skin after we had broken up. My friends knew how I felt and I had isolated myself so much in an attempt to heal. Their words ricocheted off of me like bullets against armor yet their lack of compassion never wavered. I was invited out one night to a party down the street and although against my better judgement, I decided to go.

You need this, they told me. You need to be surrounded by friends and get him off your mind.

I told myself I’d try but they had to promise they wouldn’t invite him or any of his friends. They agreed and I reluctantly trudged down my driveway into the awaiting car. We made our way through the silent streets, listening to music and passing drinks back and forth until we pulled up to my friends house.

It started out as a decent night. Music, dancing, drinking games. I was planning on sleeping over but by 10 p.m., right as more people started to arrive, I hit a wall. I wanted to go home but my ride was drunk. The girl whose house it was told me I could sleep in her bed. I thanked her and apologized for the turn in my mood. She gave me a hug and told me I tried my best, next time would be easier.

I climbed into her bed and cried myself to sleep only to wake up to the sound of shouting. A couple in my friend group had found me asleep in her bed and they weren’t happy. Clearly drunk, they told me they were sleeping there, they had already asked and how dare I be in the bed that they were going to share. I had no idea. The last thing on my mind were everyone’s sleeping arrangements. I was just happy to be asleep and away from my thoughts.

I told them I had permission to sleep in here and they would have to find somewhere else. To my absolute shock, they started spitting on me until I left the room. I have never felt so disrespected by another person in my entire life, I couldn’t even process what was happening. Had I not been half asleep, I probably would have done some serious damage to the girls’ face but lucky for them both, I broke down and locked myself in the bathroom, hysterical. It was midnight by now, I couldn’t call my mom without worrying her and one by one, each drunken person I mistakenly had called a friend knocked on the door, trying to coax me out or at least, begging me to let them in.

I had bottled up so much anger and sadness at this point, it poured out of me like the liquor they dumped down their throats. I was enraged. Word after word tumbled out of my mouth, a swear here, an insult there. You’re not my friends, I shouted at them. You only want to know what happened. You don’t care about me.

I don’t remember who got through to me but the only memory I have after my breakdown was sitting in the passengers seat of someone’s car. I don’t know who drove me home. I don’t know what time it was. But I swore to myself in that moment that no matter how alone I would feel, I would never go back to them.

I held steady on this promise, reminding myself that I graduated in a few months. If I could hold out for a few more months, this would all be over. I would never have to see them again.

Weeks turned into months. People reached out here and there saying they missed me, asking me to join them at parties and sit with them at lunch, apologizing for “whatever we did to hurt you,” as if they had no idea what they had done.

I was lucky enough to befriend a teacher who took me under her wing. She created an independent study for me my senior year that was really just yearbook. I designed the entire yearbook myself, collected photos from my peers, put together articles. She gave me my own office and a key. Whenever I was feeling overwhelmed, she’d let me work through lunch and other periods, as long as I kept the door open and unlocked. It became my safe haven. A few friends knew I was there, they’d join me for lunch occasionally but I had found my place and my creativity and I threw my emotions into creating a masterpiece for my class and myself. I made no effort to reconnect but I also made no effort to make new friends.

I was still in the group message but back then, you couldn’t take yourself out of groups like you can now. I’m sure they had other groups without me but they still kept up in this one occasionally. I barely engaged and one night, when I wasn’t responding despite their direct messages to me, it started to get bad again. Taunting and low blows, personal insecurities and jokes about my feelings. Anything to draw a response out of me.

I remember sitting in my moms bed watching a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, my dog curled at my feet and all I could think was that this was never going to stop. I have never wanted to die like I did in that moment. And it’s unfortunate that the only way I was able to get them to stop harassing me was by threatening suicide. Not reminding them that I was a human being, not asking them politely to leave me alone, not begging them with whatever energy I had left to stop.

It was with the words, “If you message me one more time, I will kill myself,” that finally produced the response I had been looking for. They pondered back and forth, wondering if I was serious and in that moment, I was. But I looked at my mom half asleep next to me, laughing at a joke on the television and my dog snoring by my feet and told myself that I had to live for them.

When I shared these experiences with my therapist, she asked me how I survived. I don’t normally cry in front of strangers, or anyone for that matter, but this simple sentence produced such an emotional response in me that I broke down. I couldn’t muster a single word for at least five minutes of internal agony. And when I finally looked up at her, I told her that without the encouragement of my mom and the way my dog seemed to know when I was sad, I wouldn’t be here.

When I finally went to college, I had trouble making friends at all. In fact, there are only a handful of people from my time at Roger Williams that I truly consider friends and I don’t think I ever shared this part of myself with them. I didn’t really speak much to anyone from high school after that. I made it a point to block everyone from my social media because any insight into my new life felt like a threat or something they could use against me.

I was made to believe I wasn’t a victim. Years have passed and still, I am conditioned to think I am a bad person, that I deserved what happened to me. I was said to be victimizing myself which is when someone basically thinks they’re a victim of a situation because they can’t take responsibility for their actions.

My therapist asked me, well why do you think they treated you like that? To which I responded, I don’t know, I must have done something and she said, do you think there could be no reason at all?

Validation is a drug in itself. Reliving and trying to understand this trauma, I have learned that I was a victim and I was a target. I learned that I wasn’t any more sensitive than the next person. I learned that my reactions – my extreme upset, resistance and attempt at standing up for myself – were what drove their meanness. I learned that I am not inherently mean and that my sharp tongue and short temper were my only protection.

Those short four years have affected me more than I care to admit. To admit that this had an impact on me at all, let alone a lingering one, would be admitting they won. It’s hard for me to think that people have good intentions and it’s even harder to open up to those that I consider the closest to me. I have walls up that I am so desperately trying to scale from the other side in an attempt to let go of all of this tension and distrust but it has been hard and painful.

Part of my recovery process is recognizing what happened to me and recognizing that it was as severe as I remember it. Vulnerability is something that I have continued to struggle with but it’s something I want to feel. I know it’ll take time but I am finally in a place where I feel like I can dedicate these sessions to breaking down those mental barriers and relearning that people can be good.

If you can take anything away from this, I hope it’s the knowledge that despite the obstacles in your past, time will wait for your recovery. You are not defined by your trauma. But your trauma will not subside if you don’t face it.

Thank you for reading, I know it was a long one.

Panama – A Year Later – The Start of 2020

It’s crazy what a year of change can bring. Quantifying a year is one of those things that’s hard to conceptualize for a variety of reasons but the main one being, when you think about the age of the earth (4.53 billion years old), a year is mathematically equivalent to less than a second. Yet, sometimes, it feels like an eternity and sometimes, it’s so filled with change you can hardly believe you were where you were 365 days ago.

When I think back to where I was a year ago today, I am reminded of my first heartbreak of 2019. I had just gotten back from Panama and although I was excited to come home, I had a gut feeling that I would be staying home. Sure enough, Rob called me about a week later after we both had some time to reflect and decided it was time to part ways.

I was very conflicted at first. Part of me was excited to be staying home, to get back into some consistency and routine, to pursue the relationship I had just started. But the other part of me was really sad and I didn’t understand why until a couple months ago when I couldn’t kick the unwanted feeling that I wasn’t doing enough. I am the type of person that doesn’t like to be in one place for too long and sure, 2019 brought me a lot of positive change (I moved into my own place, I travelled to three new countries, my girlfriend and I moved in together, I bought my own car) but it also made me feel stagnant.

I have so many goals for myself. So many things I have told myself I am going to do in terms of travelling and adventuring and although Field Trips and living on the road was easily one of the hardest things I have ever done both emotionally and physically, it was also one of the most rewarding. I laid down in the RV at night, a stranger turned best friend living in the bedroom beside my little couch, and fell asleep exhausted and fulfilled knowing I put everything I had to offer into this experience but still, I was left feeling like I didn’t do enough. And in a lot of ways I didn’t but what I struggled to understand was that it wasn’t my fault.

I tore myself down for months afterwards, playing over every experience in my head, picking out everything I may have done wrong and everything I could have done better. I went over conversations, video footage, arguments, scenarios, every little detail I could possibly think of until it dawned on me; nothing could have prepared me for this experience. No amount of effort or participation or innovation could have changed this outcome. There is nothing I, or Rob, could have done differently because at the end of the day, I wasn’t experienced enough and there wasn’t enough time in the world for Rob to teach me everything I needed to know while running a business that occupied at least 95% of his daily routine/mental capacity. And that’s no one’s fault. Yet, I am still filled with regret at the way things ended and I’ve linked that specifically to my experience in Panama.

Panama was transformational in so many ways. It’s where I learned the most about my sexuality, it’s where I realized I wasn’t cut out for Field Trips and it’s where I realized I isolate myself beyond recognition the second I feel any sort of disappointment, dislike or negativity directed at me. I shut down in Panama. I isolated myself. I pushed those around me away. I stopped making an effort to get to know clients. I forgot why I was there. And in turn, I ended up disappointing myself, disliking myself and spiraling into a whirlwind of negativity trying to psychoanalyze what I could have possibly done differently to avoid this outcome.

The answer is nothing. The answer is, I did everything I knew how to do. The answer is, I tried my hardest and maybe I wasn’t good enough for this experience but that doesn’t mean I won’t be good enough for my current experience or my next experience. The answer is, I learned so much that I have thrown into my current career path that’s made me successful in this field. The answer is, I am strides ahead of where I was a year ago last year. The answer is, I have nothing to regret and nothing to be disappointed in because in my heart, I know I did my absolute best given the circumstances.

And when you think about it from an outsiders perspective, I literally jumped in an RV with a man I didn’t know at 22-years-old and spent five months travelling and fishing throughout the country/internationally. That in itself is amazing and genuinely unheard of.

I think I’ve come to terms with leaving Field Trips. I still think about it every single day and wish I could jump back on the road with Rob and I wonder sometimes what he would say if I called him up and asked if I could join him for a couple of months. But my life right now is consistent and I have people that rely on me and I have a lot to lose and I have goals and a steady income and two jobs and a house and a girlfriend who lives with me and we travel a lot and are looking at puppies and talking about getting engaged and sending each other pictures of homes to buy and rings we like and planning a future together. That’s something I could never have on the road.

And I think I’m ok with that. At least for now.

I don’t know what this next year will bring but I think it’s funny how we measure our success in terms of a year. How we compare January of one year to January of the next and use that to determine what we accomplished. It’s almost like we use the “new year” as an excuse to set new goals and ambitions when we should constantly be striving to reach our own goals and ambitions. I think it’s silly that we wait for the strike of midnight to start working on ourselves again. A social construct I would like to dismantle.

Success isn’t measured by what those around you think and it’s not measured by how much you’ve changed or accomplished in 365 days. It should be determined by the goals you’ve set for yourself however long ago and how close you are to achieving them or how quickly you did achieve them.

We, as humans, give up around the end of the year, using the holidays as an excuse to cheat on our diets and spend the last two months of every year doing things we wouldn’t ordinarily do because we’ll be “better” in the new year. If only we had that mentality at the end of each day, then we’d really be successful, myself included. But instead, we set ourselves up for disappointment and let ourselves be more lenient knowing that we have full intentions to be better, to do better, to eat better. Better, better, better. The word has lost it’s meaning.

2020 doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s another year, a measurement of time that we’ve socially constructed, a date to remind me how old I am, a number to write on my deposited checks, a year that doesn’t have any significance except what we’ve been told it should mean. A new decade, the youngest we’ll ever be, another chance to get it right.

I have goals, don’t get me wrong. But they’re not defined by the start of a new year or the end of an old one. They’re defined by my integrity, my ambition, my drive. And I’m not saying it’s wrong if you do confine your goals to a period of one time. Whatever helps motivate you is a win in my mind.

I guess what I’m trying to say is a lot can change in one year but it shouldn’t restrict your ambitions. I’ll leave it at that.

Timing

These last couple of weeks, I have been flooded with a million little thoughts and words strewn together into pretty sentences and ideas that I wanted to write about and elaborate on. Naturally, with my super busy work schedule, I didn’t write any of them down and those fresh ideas might as well have never existed.

But one that kind of stuck with me was the idea of timing.

Looking back on the way my life has unfolded thus far, it doesn’t seem like a coincidence. One small decision I made when I was 20 blossomed into an experience that ended up shaping my entire life or a simple social media post in 2011 that lead to the downfall of a friendship or a relationship that otherwise would have been toxic. The way moments and memories slip between one another has created back to back experiences, pushing me forward from one milestone to the next when most days, I don’t even realize it. And more often than not, it’s unintentional. It’s looking back that I see the way simple moments have shaped entire experiences.

I have read so many theories about time. A social construct made up by the human race to keep everyone in check. A number on a clock that really doesn’t contain any numerical value, yet we base our days on it. But realistically, if we (at least my generation) were stuck in the wild, dependent on the rising and setting of the sun, we would be lost. Both in time and probably within our surroundings as well. And don’t even get me started on deja vu.

But this post isn’t necessarily supposed to be directed at actual, literal, defined time. More the way our choices and actions fold into one another to create this little thing we call life.

I guess I could take you back through those monumental moments, those pivotal moments, that lead me to where I am today. The way that those moments unfolded and the choices I had that eventually lead me to right now. I guess this is where deja vu comes into play.

Deja vu is one of those things that truly fascinates me. I’m not sure if it’s the same for everyone but for me, when I experience deja vu, I not only recognize the moment I am in, but I can very clearly remember what is supposed to happen next. What happened next in whatever time or moment I had already experienced. Yet, the opposite happens. And after the moment passes, I can explain what I saw or what I remembered from the previous memory.

My favorite theory surrounding deja vu is the idea that we are experiencing a parallel universe. A universe that runs directly in line with our current one where we are making different choices that eventually unfold into an entirely other universe. Each choice we make in our current life has the possibility to branch into another life in another universe. If you believe in that, then realistically, there are an infinite amount of parallel universes, alternate universes, depicting what we could be. But we are present in this one.

A secondary theory is the idea of deja vu being a memory. A memory of a past life, which in turn, is indicative of our life being on the right path. So if you experience deja vu a lot, I guess you can assume you’re doing something right.

And lastly, and the most logical, it’s simply an overlapping of memories from a previous day or a similar situation that have morphed into a present memory that tricks you into thinking it has already happened. A situation that feels weirdly familiar when it shouldn’t feel familiar at all because it hasn’t happened.

I’m not sure if deja vu and timing even relate to one another but obviously, without time, deja vu wouldn’t exist. But without deja vu, timing wouldn’t be affected.

And then we have the “luck” factor. I feel like this post is turning into a giant math problem, like the ones they give you in statistics.

Find the dependent and independent variables that are equal to time with the given factors. X x Y = TIME. 

But in terms of luck, when it comes to actual, big life decisions (moving into my own place, my current job, my travels) things have all kind of just fallen into place without me need to look for an apartment or apply to jobs or spend x amount of money on travel because I knew people in foreign places. I think that’s crucial to understanding timing; luck and coincidence have a lot do with it.

Which, in turn, could stem into a discussion about karma. Which, from the way I have come to understand it, our karma in our current life is either a reward or a punishment for how we lived our previous lives. I’ve also come to believe the way we die is karma for how we lived our past lives.

Kind of freaky when you get into a head space like the one I’m currently in; kind of going back and forth questioning your entire reality and the meaning of your life from an existential standpoint. Questioning your fate. Wondering if our lives are a product of the effort we put in and the choices we make or if our lives are predetermined from the day we are conceived. I probably sound like a crazy person right about now, if you have made it this far.

Let me circle back to the topic at hand: timing (time management)

I have genuinely heard so many people say the phrase, “our timing sucks” in an attempt to blame their misfortune on timing. As a way to end a relationship because “we both work too much, the timing just wasn’t good.” I’ll be the first to tell you this is a bullshit excuse. If you want to be with someone, if you want to spend time with someone, if you want to make something work, timing doesn’t matter because, unlike most things, you can make the time if you really want to. You can stay up an extra 10 minutes to call your significant other. You can go into work earlier to make it home for date night. You can take a five minute bathroom break to text someone back or let them know you’re thinking of them. You can get gas the night before and skip 15 minutes of your down time so you don’t have to get up 15 minutes earlier to do it in the morning.

I guess what I’m getting at is that blaming your misfortune or lack of interest on timing is a poor excuse when we all know if we really want something, we can manage our time to have it.

Let me circle back again: timing (coincidental timing)

I read something the other day about a man spilling coffee on his shirt and needing to run back inside to change, a woman’s dog taking too long to go to the bathroom in the morning and she was late for work, a man whose new shoes gave him such bad blisters he had to stop at a convenience store to buy  band-aids. All of them were supposed to be in the World Trade Center when the planes struck. All of them survived for what we might consider minor inconveniences. All of them survived because of timing.

It’s an interesting concept to think about and I have caught myself wondering so many times, “Why is this person driving so slow,” or “Why can’t I find my car keys?” All to finally leave the house and get stuck in traffic caused by a car accident. And I wonder, “Could that have been me if I knew where my keys were?”

Maybe I have conditioned myself this way because I believe in everything happening for a reason or maybe it’s just the optimist in me. I’m not sure but every single time I face a minor set back, I tell myself, “this is happening for a reason.” And I might not know what that reason is in that exact moment, but it often becomes apparent to me by the end of the day. The only time it doesn’t become obvious to me is when I receive awful news that I can’t quite wrap my head around for a few months. But looking back, it’s always there.

The way timing works, the way coincidences work, the way life works. If I think too hard about it, I’ll get lost in a tailspin in my own head questioning the entire universe. But for now, timing or luck or fate or karma, whatever you want to call it, has been on my side and continues to guide me in what I can only hope is the right direction.

I guess I really just wanted to put timing into perspective for myself, and hopefully for some others who may feel lost or not understand the way things have been working for them lately. There’s no rhyme or reason to this post, which is very unlike me, but I like to believe in signs, too. And maybe some of you reading this have been looking for a sign. Maybe some of you reading this have been looking for a reason or a reminder. I don’t know why I was compelled to write this today, or why it went in the direction of fate and karma but I like to believe the timing was right and it was written for a reason.

Take it as you will and use it as you can.