This week I’m posting something a bit less structured than normal. This essay is a mix of my ideas and things I have been considering so far this month. Let me know in the comments what you think!!
Typing away at my computer screen I set out with intentions to do the impossible, or nearly impossible. I am trying to fill inert pages with inert words, in order to express genuine feelings and experiences. It’s a tricky thing, being a writer. You must convert the intangible into this language of numbers and letters. There is no sound involved, no taste, no touch...and yet when you as a reader come across something remarkable, an immaculate essay about birds migrating in the springtime...you can hear them chirping, you can taste the cool winter air, you can feel wind bustling past you. When I write, I feel, and I take those feelings and do my best to authentically translate experience to English.
Yet, experiences have a language of their own, and it can be spoken without the use of words. Experiences can be told through a series of glances, two hands interlocking, the way someone walks...emulating those unspoken gestures on paper is a challenge to execute.
“Her heart was made of liquid sunsets” ((Virginia Woolf).
I have an appreciation for the more esoteric things in life. That being said, I am beginning to realize that the little idiosyncrasies that make me who I am often times make me hard to understand. I often feel misunderstood by the people who know me best and I think it is because the way I perceive myself and the world around me is quite different than how others do. This disconnect comes into question regarding things like how I plan to succeed in life, or how I plan to support myself long-term. As a rational thinker, as someone who is pragmatic, I can appreciate the concerns of those around me. Yet, as someone who is equally existential and philosophical as she is logical and practical it is difficult to strike a balance between living the life I love and actively pursuing opportunities that put me in a position to continue living that same life.
This time last year, and during my time away at school I can recall feeling like all I craved was for someone, my parents specifically, to be there to take care of me and to support me so that I could have the freedom and security to experiment and take risks. My life felt very stagnant and I felt lost. I wanted to act out in some way and figure out who I was and try things that I thought other people my age were doing. Throughout high school I fell in and out of friendships until I eventually found people who I truly connected with senior year. From a day to day perspective I spent a lot of those 4 years alone and I never really acknowledged that. It meant that when I was young, really young, I didn’t have people to make mistakes with, the kind of juvenile mistakes that teenagers are expected to make. Obviously, without experiencing those things you can still comprehend what they are and what the consequences are...but I saw high school as this significant period of my life with many gaps. These gaps left me wondering “what if?” and I sought out opportunities to answer that very question.
“I feel the extreme weight of doing something remarkable for my older self to be nostalgic about” ((Anonymous)).
This summer presented itself as that opportunity - I was finally a part of a friend group, one that I was truly integral to and people cared about me, and I was finally capable of being childish for the sake of having fun. I gained an ability to take risks and I am endlessly grateful for the experiences ((good and bad)) that I shared with people I love.
These reckless adventures filled a void and answered a lot of hypothetical questions I’d been asking myself for years. It was a coming of age sort of period of my life, and it continues now, but every day I wake up a bit scared to be honest. I get in my car and cruise down to the beach and soak up sunshine and swim in the ocean, I come home to a house I love where I can play piano and make art, I have friends to go to concerts and bookstores with all week long; and I see all of this as something that could just vanish. It scares me because I am so content. I can’t imagine my life being better than it is right now because for the first time I really don’t have any responsibilities or obligations to meet. I am free to be me, and I love getting to know who I am more and more each day.
“The cognitive dissonance caused by a society that tells its children to “follow their dreams” through messages in films, literature, etc. and then punishes them for not choosing safe, money making careers in adulthood is fascinating, to say the least” ((Anonymous)).
As a kid, I was in school from 8:00 to 3:00 pretty much every day for 15 years and I set high expectations for myself to succeed and exceed in an environment I detested. I used to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to grow up and know everything. I was always quick to say “yeah yeah yeah” or “I know” in conversations, never really being open to understanding something that maybe I didn’t quite understand ((and truthfully I could still gain to work on this)). I never was really one to rely on anyone but myself and that sort of pressure was too much for me at 12 or 13 or even now, and it was not qualified. I have this support system of family and friends who want to see me achieve something, and maybe I’m taking advantage of that at the moment, but all I know for certain is that I am so beyond happy.
I am happy to be living without goals, without responsibilities, without plans, without any regard for my future really...I am happy to be living in the moment and focusing on being the person I needed when I was younger for my friends and honestly for myself too. I could have afforded to take risks and put a hold on the existential. I am still trying to figure out what I need to do to maintain this happiness without fear, but I think that comes with growing. I think an answer will come to me as I learn more about who I am and what it is I want and need as a human.
I used to think I needed a lot of things to be happy but the older I have gotten that list has become smaller. I simply want to be able to wander freely, I need a roof over my head, food, a car, friends, and love...but I don’t crave anything beyond that. I wonder if I ever will.
“Crazy bird she was. Only flew when no one watched. None could keep her, all failed to train her, funny name she had. Time” ((Anonymous)).
Through being present amongst friends I’ve learned to stop thinking about the future and that has brought me a major sense of tranquility. Filling my days doing exactly what I want without a concern for what I “should” be doing feels so much more in tune with the person I want to be. I used to be a devout planner, I wouldn’t do anything adventurous last minute. Since last September I’ve embraced my spontaneity and it has helped me to live each day with more purpose and less existential dread.
Blogging has helped me to grow too. This platform I created to share my thoughts has been an experiment in vulnerability. It’s an intimate thing, writing exactly how I feel and how I think for literally anyone to stumble upon. When I hear from someone that something I wrote resonated with them or helped them in someway I feel really accomplished and that is what motivates me to continue to put myself and my words out into this crazy electronic vortex.
“Love who you love while you have them. That’s all you can do. Let them go when you must. If you know how to love, you’ll never run out” (Ann Brashares).
I’m currently quite intrigued by the concept of the 5 love languages. In 1995, Gary Chapman (an author and philosopher) published a novel explaining that people give and receive love in 5 different ways, and each individual responds most positively, or feels the most loved, by experiencing 1 or 2 of these 5 things. The 5 types of love Chapman describes are: (1) gift giving, (2) quality time, (3) words of affirmation, (4) acts of service ((devotion)), and (5) physical touch. Similar to how I feel about writing, these love languages can be spoken without words. I wanted to express my thoughts on how intangible feelings play such a large role in our lives regardless of the fact that we all experience and perceive the world differently.
I think that when it comes to receiving affection, people tend to be a lot like cats in the sense that cats are independent animals who come to you when they want attention and don’t really appreciate it when you chase after them to show them affection. People who want you to love them will demonstrate that by being close to you and open with you, and if someone isn’t coming to you for love you shouldn’t seek them out and try to provide them with it.
It’s important to love who you love in the moment and to express that love to the best of your ability. When Brashares adds that “If you know how to love, you’ll never run out” I believe she is saying that if you love openly and honestly you never run out of love because you’re always giving it and therefore the universe will provide you with love back.
“When I say "love," the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person's ear, travels through this Byzantine conduit in their brain, you know, through their memories of love or lack of love, and they register what I'm saying and they say yes, they understand. But how do I know they understand? Because words are inert. They're just symbols. They're dead, you know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It's unspeakable. And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another, and we feel that we've connected, and we think that we're understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling might be transient, but I think it's what we live for” (Waking Life 2001, “Chapter 3: Life Lessons”).
I think that the point being made in this scene of Waking Life is really fascinating on a lot of different levels because they’re taking this concept of words being inert but also making the point that so much of our thoughts as human beings are unspeakable or intangible. Especially when multiple people are involved, so much of how we communicate is in silence and comes across through gestures and subtle glances and little idiosyncrasies about ourselves like twirling our hair or biting our lips that goes without words.
Because so many of our thoughts go unsaidI think it’s really important to acknowledge the 5 love languages and be aware of how you and the people you’re close to feel loved. For example, I have friends who I know love me but don’t express it always with quality time or words of affirmation (which are my two strongest love languages and you can take a quiz here to learn yours) but others do and it doesn’t mean anyone loves me more or less but I think commonly people give love the way they want to receive it.
I think it’s interesting and helpful to know how you, your friends and family receive love because then you can offer the right kind of love and support instead of what you perceive to be right based on your own preferences.
“Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely, that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done” (Rudy Francisco).
Psychologically there are so many reasons love can be scary. If you’ve had negative relationship experiences in the past you will assume that trend is going to repeat. If a parent left you as a child you will have issues trusting the people you love and will combat this fear by leaving those you love before they have a chance to leave you. If you don’t love yourself the way you want to be loved, you’re going to be loved less than you deserve.
Be confident in your worth.
In your values.
Love is one of the most intangible feelings that we all perceive, receive, and experience differently. Between romantic, platonic, and unrequited love alone there are so many different feelings involved. I don’t think it benefits anyone to close themselves off to love based on fear. Even if ultimately letting your heart be open to possibility gets you hurt in the end, your heart will eventually mend, and we’re on this planet for such a short time that I think all of us should be more willing to try and experience as much love as possible.
So... Be open to romantic possibilities everywhere. Really listen. People appreciate being heard. Enjoy what perplexes you in the moment.
...and when the universe has shown you love once, it will again.
This post was totally unique and different for me to write, curate, and post. Be sure to let me know if you'd be interested in reading more journal entry style content from time to time!!