I always seem to forget anniversaries.
A year and a few days ago I quit my soul-sucking job on a whim. Amazing that it had to be on a whim. I knew it had hollowed me out and would continue to do so. But I had a plan: I would stick it out for the two-year mark, which coincided with my lease ending, which coincided with my brother’s lease ending, which, we decided, was the perfect time for a cross-country move. I’ve never thought about it as my rock-bottom moment, even though I often recount how I’d become the most basic representation of a human: merely breathing and moving my body to remind myself that I was alive, because every day seemed like a failure and nothing – not live-in friends or soulmate coworkers or the juiciest genre-bending yoga – could fill in the gaping hole of my heart. I have to say I’ve had worse times where hopelessness arrived without coping skills, and Denver was nothing if not a playground for my coping skills. But coping skills exist for our survival, and just like our cortisol and adrenaline, they’re not meant to sustain us for long periods of time. So I supposed I did hit rock bottom. I crashed, and on the other end of the phone were my beautiful parents who scrubbed the person right back into me when they reminded me that my path is my path, and I can change it whenever I want to. I could change! Of course; I’d almost forgotten my signature scent.
Though I’m completely bored of modern yoga (that’s for another post), one of the most poignant concepts that actually means something when I draw upon it in everyday life is the idea that there is nothing I have to be, nowhere I have to go. It’s different, that kind of perspective. We don’t like to be nothing. We millenials and adrenaline junkies and people-out-seeking-joy need to be BIG and INSPIRED and POWERFUL and EVERYWHERE. But I can’t be those things if I’m not first grounded. And I’ll probably spend half my life trying to get grounded, because there’s such a weird energy on this planet right now, and I’m just trying not to get knocked sideways every day. One of the best things I ever did for myself was to quit. I was trying to avoid failure by not quitting, but then my mom reminded me: “Why do you need to win at this? You don’t like this. You don’t want to do this. Why do you have to make it another year if you never plan to do this again in your life?” WOW. Wake up call. There is nothing I have to be, nowhere I have to go.
Two weeks later I moved into my parent’s home. Within a week of breathing in the Iowa summer air, I was human again. In fact, I was bursting. Feelings were coming to the surface that I hadn’t felt in months. Days went by without being at the constant helm of irritation. Finally, I was the light burning on the wick again, rather than the stamper, the smoke.
By the end of the summer, Jared and I had made the days-long journey to a random, secluded, small town on the West Coast. It wasn’t our dream town but it was nearby, and it’s served us both in ways we likely didn’t anticipate. My life looks nothing like I thought it would at age 25. I mean, I was (and still am) probably over-exposed to FRIENDS, but I always thought my daily life would circle around my closest friends in an urban environment. I didn’t think most of my acquaintances and confidants would be twice my age. I often can’t believe that I work in a conservative, old-school office and push paper for people who’ve never heard of environmental conservation. I never dreamed I’d be living with my brother, or rather successfully sweet talking the rest of the BKK clan into reconvening out West.
I don’t get to the beach near as much as I would like. We’re kind of freaking out because this state is not very dog-friendly and the impending apartment hunt will NOT be fun. Scaling back on high stress work makes it all the more challenging to plan for a move to our dream city. There are so many what-ifs and unknowns in our future that the planner in me still purses her lips sometimes. BUT: somehow I’ve convinced myself to let certain things unfold as they may, to not push them too hard lest old wounds be exposed, to open the windows and let the breeze be enough, to cultivate our home so our introversion is not as pitiful, and to enjoy the friendship of those who cherish spending time with me despite our age differences.
A year ago, I was just desperate to leave my old life behind. I had few expectations for what this California life would be like, and that’s probably allowed the panic to stay at bay for most of these last eight months. This summer will be most telling of how the future will unfold, and I, in all the uncertainty, seem to have nothing but underlying optimism. Take that, anxiety. Take that.