not now.

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“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” -Leo Tolstoy

Most of us periodically take some time to stop and look around. We reflect on how we got to where we are, and with whom. We glance in the rearview to see how far we’ve come.

To say the past year wasn’t easy for me is a laughable understatement. I have learned more than I can put into words- both light and dark aspects of life, of love, of human nature- in such a short amount of time. Oh, year-ago me: if you only knew.

There’s one lesson that helped a lot as I struggled to put two feet solidly on the ground again, one in front of the other. As I got the hang of a new normal, of life as a full-time working mom. As I got better at not wincing when people casually asked about my boyfriend, as I got more graceful at laughing it off and encouraging them to send any eligible bachelors my way. As I continue to watch my daughter develop a personality and learn and grow and blossom.

The lesson that has helped most of all is this: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

It came to me one chilly February morning, tossed out at a seminar with a lot of other really great advice. At a time when I so desperately needed to be reminded of the virtue of patience, of the truth that great things take time. Wine and cheese get better with age- why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t life?

There are plenty of things I don’t have the ability to do right now. They’re expensive or time-consuming or irresponsible. When you have someone else to consider, depending on you like no one ever has before, you start to think the opportunity to do the things you had wanted or dreamed has passed, that the doors are quickly closing on you.

And then you remember: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

One day, you’ll go on that trip, you’ll buy that house with the wraparound porch you’ve always wanted. You’ll drive across the states and see the Grand Canyon and drink a beer in every state in the country, just like you always thought you would.

One day, you’ll fall in love again.

And then you realize: you get to do all of this with the most wonderful little human being you have ever had the pleasure of knowing. How much sweeter will it all be with them by your side?

You’ll get to do all the ‘not nows’ you want- maybe not now, but someday. You may hit a ‘not ever’ or two; but the truth is, everyone has some ‘not evers.’

A year ago I didn’t fully understand that my life was going to take on a lot of ‘not nows.’ I didn’t really comprehend the way my life would have to shift and brake to adjust to parenthood.

But I’ve come a long way, and when I start to get frustrated or feel like I’m missing out on certain experiences I remind myself: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

The really good wine and cheese won’t be ready for another few years, anyway.

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defending happiness

 

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“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.’

stardust.

I knew
we two
to be heavenly bodies-
beings of  f.i.r.e.,
posed to inspire
awe,
to offer light
in the night
as stars.

I knew
you
to be the sun
sharing  h.e.a.t.,
making life sweet
for me,
and it burned
when I learned
what you are.

I know
now, the glow
is brightest
just before i.m.p.l.o.s.i.o.n.,
just before      e x p l o s i o n
just before the  [black hole]
destroys its neighbors
and labors
to leave the sky in scars.

why college was ‘worth it’

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“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”  -Tom Bodett

 

Welp, here we go. It is officially, definitively, one month to graduation.

The school has given us our caps and gowns, the yearbook has been poured over, and we have all given up on caring about our grade in that one senior elective we only took to fulfill credit requirements.

The job hunt looms ahead: an intimidating mess of resumes, cover letters, and awkward moments during interviews. We know we have no choice but to look ahead into that dark cloud of uncertainty, and all we really want to do is turn around and relive the familiar, worry-free moments we didn’t realize we should have appreciated more.

In the face of post-grad life, there’s talk about the value of a college education. Having that degree will, hopefully, help you get some job or another. But, there’s still those who ask- was it worth it?

Was it worth the money? That unbelievable price tag that you justified you could pay off between scholarships, grants, loans, side jobs, and (for us lucky ones) the generosity of your parents?

Was it worth the time? Those endless hours in pre-reqs and core classes, the late nights writing 20+ page papers on Shakespeare and studying for that cumulative psych final?

Was it worth the stress, the anxiety? Was it worth the frustration? And, in the end, are you any better off?

I can’t (and won’t try to) speak for my fellow soon-to-be graduates. But for me, the answer is: absolutely.

Why?

College connected me with people who have drastically, and beautifully, changed my life.

The classes were important, but the professors were exponentially moreso- the English professor that was so excited about what we read that he made me WANT to go to class, the Humanities professors that made me change the way I see the world and defend my opinions with conviction, and the art teacher that convinced me we’re all artists, somehow.

The professional experience was valuable, but my mentors made all the difference. The advisers that showed me what real support in the workplace does (and doesn’t) look like, the older students that inspired me and made me want to be better every single day, and the co-workers that continually surprised me with their passion and their dedication.

The late nights out and college parties were fun, but they would have been nothing without the friends I made in the process. The roommates that have stood by me since move-in day, the friends that have no problem with a 3 a.m. emotional phone call, and the alumni that still keep in touch and offer advice via a group text message that involves too many emojis.

These people, all of them, saw me in my best and worst moments. My professors at my academic highs and lows. My advisers and coworkers through my successes and failures. My friends through the highs of loves and lows of breakups, through happiness and hangovers.

They have had an impact on my life that, years after our tassels have been turned, will not be any less important in shaping who I am than it is today. They gave me a real education.

If someone asks me if I’ll be better off financially than I would have been with a different past four years, the honest answer is I don’t know, and maybe I never will. But worth isn’t always measured in numbers and statistics, and the experience of meeting these amazing people and sharing a love of learning and life with them has been the most worthwhile thing I’ve done thus far.

So don’t worry, college. When they ask if you were worth it, I’ll tell them you were.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have you on my resume.

What I’m Learning in College

It’s only Tuesday and I’ve learned a lot already this week. Here are some things I didn’t know college would teach me.

  • We are so much more and so much less than we know
  • “Experiencing the entire gambit of human emotions is exhausting” – one of the greatest professors/men I have ever met
  • There’s an elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. They prefer silence, but there will never be silence. Life is for noise. 
  • All of poetry is a message in a bottle
  • If you can’t laugh, you have the wrong attitude
  • Perspective is a powerful thing