This next post is going to be the introduction to a four-part series highlighting the habits I’ve adopted to keep me sane.
A few months ago, I was depressed. It was end of January/first of February. Dark, cold, and dreary outside. I was about one month into my new hostessing position. Winter is the suckiest season for restaurants if you didn’t know, so everyone at work was stressed and tense about money. I had no fun trips coming up, no friends to look forward to seeing, nada.
Trying to desperately claw my way out of the hole I felt myself sinking into, I started brainstorming about the aspects of my life, specifically, that I had last year at college (my most recent happy time) that I didn’t have now. This is the list I came up with.
I’m starting with the most difficult here. I’ve learned from past experience (moving middle schools in 7th grade; moving 1000 miles away for college) that it generally takes me a year and a half to remotely adjust to a place. And even though I “came home”, a) I am a totally different person than I was in high school and b) I don’t want to connect with my high school friends who are back in town. I’m not looking to revert. I’m looking to craft my life. That’s an active verb.
To sum this up, I’ve spent a lot of time alone lately. I’ve never minded being alone, but I think until you experience a total lack of your people where you are, you don’t quite empathize with the deep hollow it can leave. Nevertheless, don’t despair. I’m – what? – 8 months into being back at home. Less than a year until I start to settle. Moreover, my anxiety about not having people has lessened as I focus on other areas that I can alter.
2. Creative Outlets (i.e. Tango and Poetry Workshops)
In college, my friends will tell you that I was a Renaissance woman, constantly bopping from one creative venture to another (and blowing off my homework entirely in the process!). However, my two biggest draws were tango and poetry. I started tango the fall of my senior year, expecting an easy A. But tango got the best of me, as I ended up going to milongas and workshops and club meetings and classes three and four times a week outside of class. I freaking love tango. And I know why: Tango is the bodily manifestation of poetry. That sounds super lame, but it’s true. The same tingly feeling I get when I’m free writing for my poems, I get when I’m listening to my partner while we tango. It’s the improv of life. In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche talks about the sustenance of life being improvisation. I ended a paper discussing this work with these lines: “Whether [life] occurs just once or an infinite number of times [according to eternal recurrence], we only have this Here, this Present to act. Hence, we must play with gusto, as a child would, eager at the end of our life to challenge, ‘Was that life? Well then! Once more!’ (Zarathustra 318).”
Sitting at home in your sweatpants eating frozen pizza doesn’t easily lend itself to experiencing the deep truth of life’s improvisation. So, I created this blog to manufacture some structured creativity. I’ll talk more about that later.
Several times a week at college, my best friend Mo and I would sit for an hour after dinner and have black tea with cream (for me) and soy milk (for her lactose-intolerant self). This is a habit that developed the summer of 2011 when Mo and I lived together in the boondocks of Western Mass with no tv, cell service, or internet. All we had to do was drink tea. So we sat for hours and would talk – or not – and be with each other.
Even after Mo went abroad last semester, I would sit in the dining hall and drink tea. Calming myself. Slowing my pace.
4. Purpose/Something to do
Like I said in my very first blog post, I have been on a one-way street to success (whatever that means) for the past ten years. At college I was deeply involved with the local poetry community; nannied 30 hours a week; researched as part of a colloquium; went out tango dancing several nights a week; and spent every spare second of free time in the presence of my beautiful friends.
Crazily enough, this transition period has been my first pause… ever? At least in my mature (ha!) adult life. So what hit me most significantly in August when I moved home was that I don’t have anything to do. For almost a year now, I have been acting in the mindless role of nanny, then barista, and now hostess. I come home from work and read. And cook. And cuddle with Penny, my partner’s chihuahua/dachshund mix dog. And that’s it. Talk about slowing down. My life – until very recently – had all but stopped.
All this time has given me ample time/space to figure out what is even worth devoting my time to.
I’ll start writing about my thriving methods on Friday. Until then.
“I want to be your medicine, I want to feed the sparrow in your heart.” – The Tallest Man on Earth