love is not a roller coaster.

So many people try to write of love when they don’t really understand it. Maybe trying to put love on paper is a fool’s errand. Maybe we’re all fools for attempting to confine it to something limited, like language.But we have to try. Continue reading

Advertisements

defending happiness

 

IMG_1763

“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”― Douglas Adams

The older you get, the harder it is to say “I’m going to do this just because it makes me happy.” People tend to see ‘because it’ll make me happy’ as an act of selfishness, and they look for other motivations for your actions.

We become cynical and guarded and we think ‘she must be going out with that guy to get back at her ex’ or ‘he’s only doing x to make up for y.’ We see other people’s actions only in relation to how they affect us.

‘Because it’ll make me happy’ starts to feel like a juvenile reason for doing something, and we scramble to back up our decisions with more substantive reasoning.

What a horrible way to live.

True- we shouldn’t just do whatever we want simply because we feel like it, especially when it’s harmful to other people; but why isn’t happiness reason enough to live the life you want?

This sad truth is one of the many reasons that the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. (I’m looking at you, high school study buddies and college roommates.)

They can remind you not to take life too seriously because they’ll be sure to knock you down a peg when you start acting too mature for your own good. They can bring you back to a time when you were less inhibited by lasting effects and empowered by the sense of invincibility we only feel in our youth.

They can remind you of a different you, the person you were before life became more permanent and decisions became more difficult. The person you were when your dreams were bigger than you realized and everything was uncertain. The person you were when happiness was a good reason to do anything.

It’s true – you’re wiser now, you’ve seen more of life and learned along the way. You have more accomplishments (and more failures) under your belt. But are you using what you’ve learned?

You would think the older you get, the more you would realize that life is short and that happiness is the BEST reason to take action, one of the only reasons that matters.

People look for the meaning of life as if it’s some big mystery. Is it crazy to think we’re here to love each other, make each other happy, and improve each other’s lives? Is it insane to think it could be that simple?

You become an ‘adult’ (supposedly) and you let other things fill your mind. You stoop under the weight of responsibility, of work, of family, of expectations of others. You forget the simple truth that you innately knew when you were young – that love and happiness are the best motivations, the only reasons that really mean anything at all.

Go back, if you can. Spend time with the people who knew you before you ‘knew it all.’ Reminisce. Revisit old dreams. Laugh.

Decide to cut the toxic parts (and people) out of your life, the ones that drag you down and masquerade as necessary evils. Do what you do (WHATEVER you do) because you love it.

And next time someone asks why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing, I hope your answer is ‘because it makes me happy.’

an open letter to the friends who fade

IMG_0737

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.”  ― John Banville

To the friends who’ve faded:

Neither of us is really to blame for the fact that we lost touch. Time had something to do with it. Distance, life. Everything got in the way, despite FaceTime and iMessage. Although other friendships persisted for each of us, ours didn’t.

You pop up every once in a while on my Facebook feed, on Instagram. I see you went to London and he got a new puppy. She moved in with her boyfriend, and someone else moved farrrrr away. They got engaged, and that other couple we swore would make it crashed… hard.

I sometimes wonder if you’re happy, what your day-to-day life is like now. I used to be part of your day-to-day life. Remember that? The stupid, funny, lazy way we saw each other every day? In class, on the sidewalk, in the cafeteria… that was the norm. I wonder what we would say to each other now. Would you still let me steal your French fries?

How’re your parents? I think about them too.

I could message you or text you and say let’s get together and catch up, but we’re such different people now than we used to be. And what if reconnecting was somehow disappointing? Better to just leave the good memories where they are and avoid the risk of turning our once-friendship into an awkward encounter.

I guess what I really want you to know is that I liked having you in my life, even if you wouldn’t think so now. I’ll remember that nickname you gave me and the way you told off anyone who deserved it. I’ll remember the many cups of coffee we shared and the things we suffered through together.

We all just move forward and farther apart, whether we want to or not. The clock ticks and the time we spent together continues to fade away. Before it’s gone altogether, I just wanted you to know that I still think of you sometimes. I see old pictures of us together and I smile. I’d like you to live your life knowing that in whatever way I knew you, in whatever time, you mattered to me.

People grow, friendships fade- and they should. The friends you have in one phase of your life don’t always transfer to the next, and those friends aren’t always the best for you as you move on. But that doesn’t mean they were unimportant in shaping your life into what it is, into who you are.

I miss you, and the times we laughed together. I’ll always be grateful for those, and for how they got me here.

It truly was nice knowing you- cheers.

the blame game

collage

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”  Sophocles

Don’t blame love.

Love didn’t make you cry, loss did. Being ripped apart from something that meant a lot to you without your consent. Realizing that the things you wanted for the future will not come to pass, even the things you didn’t realize you wanted. The acceptance of living without. That’s what made you cry.

Love didn’t cut you to the bone, cruelty did. Harsh words from someone you held in high regard. The act of dropping you and moving on as if you meant nothing to them. The casual manner in which they continue, pretending that they didn’t just rip through your life like a hurricane. That’s what hurt you to the core.

Love didn’t make you second-guess yourself, the belief that you’re not good enough did. The crazy thought that because you weren’t appreciated in one instance you won’t be in any other. The notion that you can’t possibly measure up to expectation. That’s what stole your confidence.

Love didn’t make you gain weight, or lose weight, or cut your hair or binge-drink, uncertainty did. The feeling that your whole world was rocked because something you thought was so sure turned out to be anything but. The idea that the foundation you stood on is capable of crumbling. That’s what put you in a spiral.

Love didn’t let you down. Love didn’t punch you in the stomach. Love didn’t hurt you, or betray you.

Love made you laugh. It made you feel invincible and safe. It made you feel at home. It lifted you up.

Love is all of the best parts of your life. It’s family and friends and the reassurance that someone else out there knows what you’re going through. It’s inside jokes and glasses of wine and funny voicemails and stupid text messages.

If you never loved anything, you might never truly feel the pain of loss. But don’t blame love for your heartbreak- whether it came by way of breakup, death, rejection or fate. Love didn’t hurt you on purpose. Someone or something may have, but it wasn’t love.

When you give up on love you give up on life. You give up the possibility of everything that is worth having, feeling and doing.

So- love without regret or shame. Realize that when your world is turned upside-down, it’s never love’s fault. When you’re happy, recognize all of the love in your life.

Know that whatever else happens, love is what makes it all worth it.

inventory.

here I sit,
taking inventory of

THE WALLET:
thirty-six dollars,
a card that gives me license
to drink and to drive
(but not together),
another that gives me credit,
pictures of her,
and tickets to a show
that won’t go on.

THE HEAD:
countless passwords,
a bachelor’s degree-worth
of knowledge I rarely use,
friends’ birthdays,
how to drive a car,
and memories of what
life used to be.

THE HEART:
the most beautiful little girl,
the kind of friends
you only hear about,
a family that dulls others
by comparison-

and a stubborn refusal to give up
on the idea that
love
will always win.

to the ones who stick.

here’s to the ones
who stick:

who trick
the odds and statistics

and decide not to quit-
the ones that know when you hit

gold- in friends, in love, in family-
you don’t just ‘wait and see’

what happens. you choose
not to use

people to your advantage, instead
you commit your head

and heart to being there,
no matter where

you’re needed. you answer the call,
you break down the wall

if you have to. the ones you never doubt-
they’re what life’s about

and they deserve your best, your most.
so here’s a toast:

I raise my glass to the profound-
to the ones who stick around.

forgive (don’t forget)

FullSizeRender

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
–Mark Twain

 
How do you forgive someone who has hurt you so badly that the mere sight of them actually causes you physical pain?

People hurt each other every day, but for some reason every time we get hurt it stings just as much as that first time. Sometimes it stings worse than the first time. Sometimes the word “sting” comes nowhere close to doing the feeling justice. So when it comes time to forgive the people who hurt you and move forward with your life, where do you even begin?

In my experience the first step is always forgiving yourself for letting them hurt you. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Maybe that’s true, but I don’t know if that same idea applies to love and friendship. Sometimes your feelings don’t listen to your better judgment and you let people in without realizing it. Before you know it, your heart is in pieces and you’re pretty sure you didn’t consent to that. Forgive yourself anyway.

Remember all of the people who are still by your side, the ones that never wavered. Those are the people who deserve your time and energy, and that’s where you should direct your attention now. Those who hurt you don’t deserve your tears or your thoughts, your regrets and your sleepless nights. Be sad if you have to, and then surround yourself with the people who deserve your attention.

Go back to your life, to the things that make you really happy. Find joy in the little moments that make up your day. Take every excuse to smile, every excuse to laugh. Say yes more often than you say no. Get up and get out. Soon enough, those happy moments will turn into happy days, and happy weeks and happy months. Give yourself permission to be happy.

 Finally, realize that holding on to pain and anger will hurt you much more than they hurt anyone else. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. Hating the people that hurt you takes just as much time and energy as loving them. Letting go of as much as possible, of a new little piece of pain every day, is the only way to heal. It’s the only way to forgive the people that have hurt you, and the only way to deprive them from ruling your life from afar. Let go, and keep the past from controlling your future.

 Every time we get hurt, the process of healing is the same. And so is the final conclusion, the lesson we learn time and time again: life is too short to spend it with the people who treat you badly.

So forgive. Don’t forget, because then you won’t have learned anything, and your pain will have been in vain. But as difficult as it is, as much as it hurts- forgive the people who have wronged you, especially the ones who don’t deserve it. Because they’re the people that need it the most.

choosing change

IMG_2230

“Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.” – Jack Kerouac

What do you do when your whole life is about to change from everything comfortable and familiar to everything you never expected?

Sometimes you have the luxury of foresight; the second you stepped onto a school campus, you knew graduation was the inevitable end to your time at that place. Sometimes, you don’t have any warning and life changes more quickly and quite differently than you ever would have thought.

Either way, planned or by surprise, changes can be exciting or scary, positive or negative, simple or complicated. In most cases, all of the above.

The critical question is this- what do you do when nothing will ever be the way it was again?

Ultimately, there are two kinds of people – and two ways to answer the question.

There are those who are paralyzed by change and those who are propelled by it. There are those who embrace their future and those who cling to their useless plans of what they thought the future would hold.

There are those who continue to write the story of their own life, and those who obsess pointlessly about the typos and mistakes they made along the way.

Some people might be hardwired to respond to change in certain ways, but at the end of the day we each choose which of these categories we fall into.

If everything in our lives is predetermined, I guess that’s an easy way to blame fate for our problems. Maybe some things are meant to happen to us.

But I have to believe that, even if that’s true, we can choose how we will respond to what life throws at us.

We can choose whether to meet the challenges head on or to curl up and let them wash over us.

We can choose to respond with love and an embrace of life’s insanity or to respond with defeat, exhaustion and fear.

We can choose to blame the stars and the fates for our difficulties or we can laugh and learn from our mistakes and our past to make them a meaningful part of who we are.

When your whole life’s about to change, there’s only one course of action that makes sense-

Be grateful for where you’ve been, and never forget the things you’ve learned and the people you’ve met on your journey to the tipping point. Even the ones who hurt you played a role in getting you here.

Remember that the best laid plans are wiped clean in an instant for tons of people every day, and that you are not composed solely of your mistakes.

Take courage in the fact that although you can’t control what happens TO you, you control what you’ll do about it.

With a deep breath and the acceptance that you will never truly know where your life will be tomorrow, choose to embrace whatever life brings your way with conviction.

Deny yourself neither happiness nor sorrow, love nor loss.

Most importantly, be in love with your life. Every minute of it.

the truth about homecoming.

IMG_3568

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” -Pascal Mercier

The truth is, five short months after graduation will be homecoming. And if you had the kind of friends who “did college right,” they’ll do homecoming right too.

The truth is, hugging the roommate you haven’t seen since July will be the best thing you do all week. Letting them go will be the hardest thing you do all month.

The truth is, they’ll charge you $15 to get into the beer tent, but you’ll pay it anyway because you’re going in there come hell or high water.

The truth is, it will feel like an actual blow to the stomach when you see freshmen walking around with tshirts that say “Class of 2018.” YES, EIGHTEEN.

The truth is, you’ll always somehow belong to that school, but it doesn’t really belong to you anymore.

The truth is, you’ll never find a burger that tastes quite like the one they make at your favorite place on the meal plan. Thankfully, it’ll taste just like it did in May.

The truth is, you’ll kind of miss Maroon and Gold.

The truth is, it’ll be really weird when you drive by your old apartment and wonder what it looks like inside now. It’ll be weirder to realize that it doesn’t really matter what it looks like-it’s not yours anymore.

The truth is, that bar up the street is still overpriced, but somehow worth every penny when it’s filled with the right people.

The truth is you can’t drink as much as you used to, but that’s probably not going to stop you.

The truth is, one weekend is not enough time to catch up with people you used to see every day. Somehow, getting that five minutes to say hello and share a hug is happy and kind of hurts at the same time.

The truth is, eating brunch with your roommates the next morning will feel exactly like it used to, even if it’s a different diner. But getting in separate cars to go separate ways at the end of the meal will feel stranger than you can imagine.

The truth is, you won’t realize how much you miss those crazy kids until you have to leave them again. It will somehow be harder than you expected to go back to reality after a taste of what once was.

The truth is, no one told you how much it sucks not to see your best friends every day. They probably couldn’t have warned you if they tried.

The truth is, you won’t know how very much that campus was home until it’s not anymore.

The truth is, it’ll be exactly what you needed.

why you should leave

10384369_788244764560426_651103883338430316_n

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

 

You should leave your room because the relationships you have with your family, friends and roommates will always be more fulfilling than the relationship you have with your Netflix account.

You should leave your house because the fresh air and sunshine is good for you. So is getting caught in the rain- how else would you learn to take an umbrella?

You should leave your hometown or your city to see what amazing things and people are right around the corner. You’ll come to know that sometimes adventure is only half an hour away.

You should leave your state to discover exactly how beautiful that New York City skyline is, what the big deal is about that Chicago deep-dish pizza, and what they really mean when they talk about ‘southern hospitality.’

You should leave the country and learn that you, and your problems, are small in comparison to the size, wonder and beauty of the world. You’ll learn that those people halfway across the globe, speaking other languages and eating different foods, are the same as you in all of the ways that matter. You will change the way you see the world and the way you see yourself.

You should leave your work at the office so that you don’t make it your identity, and come to know, if you don’t already, that in the end life is not measured in paychecks or promotions.

You should leave your phone at home and find the peace that comes with uninterruption, the sunset that can’t be captured by your camera lens and the sounds of the live music in the air that blow your iPod out of the water.

You should leave your regret, your doubts and your inhibitions behind because they will never help you grow the way acceptance, belief and experience will.

You should leave your family and friends, if only for a little while, to find out how truly lucky you are to know them. Time spent apart will make the sound of their voice sweeter and the feeling of their embrace warmer. It will make the fights and the misunderstandings small and unimportant.

You should get out of here– be it on foot, bike, train, plane, boat or car. You should leave so you can discover other people, other places, other ways to see the world. You should go to learn who you are when you’re not surrounded by the familiar things you lean on and cling to.

You should leave so you can live.