Hi. It’s been a while, I know. I’m safely back from Europe and you can follow along with all the photos I took here (file under: hashtagBriannaDoesTheRhine, which is the BEST hashtag name for a trip and I will say took me waaaaaaay too long to figure out. And I am NOT ashamed. It’s perfect and I’m proud). Europe was perfect, minus one hellish travel day home but eh, that’s a part of travel and if life has taught me anything in the last couple of months it is: If you can’t handle it when something goes wrong, you shouldn’t do it.
So, what’s up with you guys? I’ve been guest lecturing at the local community college which has been SO MUCH FUN. More fun than I’ve had in a really long time – and a student even emailed me today to talk about picking Religious Studies as a major! Oh, my heart swelled in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. I’ll level with you all – I almost cried.
I get the opportunity to lecture again next month and I’m thrilled. I love it. Teaching feels like home. And these experiences are the driving force I need to stay focused on my research proposal for my PhD. It’s been all consuming – and I know everyone wants to read about Durkheim’s theories and how I’ll by applying them to my research, RIGHT? – but it’s where my life is right now. Searching for a job, reading, writing, and teaching. Minus the lack of a regular paycheck, it’s pretty perfect. And it’s fall! My favorite season. I’m happy and warm and even though life has thrown me a lot of insane obstacles and hardships in such a short period of time, I’m lucky to have the people in my life that I do, and I’m happy.
Thus the quote about simplicity. I’ve been thinking a lot about my life and the things I need, the things I want. And my philosophy is all about simplicity.
I interrupt my blog silence for some musings on my trip thus far.
The last few weeks have been filled with a lot of change in an incredibly short period of time. It’s been difficult to want to look to the future or attempt to get excited about things. I have hit what I feel is my own “rock bottom” for the first time in my life – personally and professionally. It was hard to see out of that tunnel. When you fall so far down the rabbit hole of grief and depression getting yourself out is nearly impossible.
My friend Tess kept reminding me to “feel all those feelings, hug them, and let them go” but that has proved to be a struggle. Most of those emotions have stayed too long, and are likely to return I’m sure, but this trip has been an immense help. I can honestly say I’ve never been so relaxed in my life – and as someone who has had an incredibly stressful and demanding job for the last two years, the relaxation provides a wealth of perspective.
For the first time in what seems like ever, I am responsible for nothing other than my own happiness and future. It’s frightening and refreshing all at once. I kept feeling as though I will return home to “nothing” and was not looking forward to it. I can see now that is not the case – I return home to the promise of the future I am molding for myself. I am blessed with the opportunity to throw myself into my passion and what has been my dream – becoming a professor. I will return with the time and energy it takes to put in the work that should make that dream a reality. I feel hopeful and excited.
At the beginning of this trip I spent two evenings in Amsterdam visiting an old friend of mine and it was lovely. Getting to talk to someone who has seen me go through so much, and believes in me, was refreshing. It was great to spend two days with someone who you feel absolutely at home with – someone who can help you dream up your future and sees your vision. Believes your vision. It’s helpful that he also hopes to end up in London around the same time – it makes that reality feel a lot less lonely.
I am the youngest person on this trip by far, but it’s been great hearing the life advice everyone has for me. Last night at dinner I was told the secret to happiness is threefold: “1. Share you life with someone who brings you joy. 2. Spend your time in a career that you enjoy. 3. Always have something to look forward to.” It’s simple, really. But simple things are often the most difficult. Yet this trip has made me excited about getting to choose that person (and help me realize what a waste of time certain people have been), getting to work on my career dream, and trying to look forward to the future and all of my plans in the making.
More musings and photos when I return.
Happy Friday. I leave for Europe on Tuesday and can not wait to just get away. Disconnect. And simply enjoy life. I leave you all with this great song I absolutely love.
Cheers to returning refreshed with an army of stories and photos. I’ll try to intermittently photo dump on here while I’m away but if you’re curious I’ll be keeping the ol’ Instagram updated. Follow me @briannahanson.
But back to this song. These lyrics just…hit so hard. And good. I can definitely relate, Sam. Keep the tunes comin':
“This moment has caused a reaction
Resulting in our reattachment
Will you take me to nirvana?
I don’t think this will last
But you’re here in my arms
Oh baby, oh baby, oh, we both feel the same
I’m not gonna give you my name
And I don’t think you want that to change
We’re in this together, we don’t know who we are
Even if it’s moving too fast,
Baby we should take it too far”
It’s difficult to write about the place I’m in currently. Amanda bothers me nearly every day to update this space, to share my thoughts, and I know she’s right but the jumbled mess of feelings is challenging to wade through. It seems nearly impossible to find the right words to say – to capture what it is I’m exactly feeling.
This last year of my life has proved challenging, but the last nine months even more so. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions in what has essentially felt like one long breakup. When it feels like the only option is to just…go. To move on. Days which are good, even great – times where happiness abounds. Days which are dark, emotional. Lonely. That seems to be the overarching theme of this year: Lonely. And the repercussions of that certain awful feeling. The ways in which I’ve let people get too close to me time and time again to try to fill a void. And knowing that it just isn’t working…but loneliness is a funny thing. It doesn’t care that you logically understand your pattern and want to get out of it. It just wants to not be felt anymore. It’ll do anything to make that happen. Including turning you into some sort of emotional masochist.
You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served. And fuck, if that isn’t a lesson I’m still trying to learn this year. Growing older, taking things less personally, moving on.
Yes, it’s been a crappy year. And yes, I’m having a difficult time writing about it because no matter how many times I say “It’s ok”, it’s not ok. It just isn’t.
And yet, it has to be.
A great coach at my gym shared this article with us all and I think it’s incredibly poignant, important, and just too good not to share:
“We have allowed fear to rule our lives and overcome our good (not common) sense. What am I talking about? Because of fear, monkey bars are disappearing across the world. Because of fear, schools are banning the use of balls during recess…Basically, because of fear, we watch life pass us by. We become a spectator. We have become so afraid, so “safety conscious”, that we constantly find ways and excuses not to move and engage in life. We actually use our creativity in the wrong direction.
As a result, we quit moving. We quit exploring. We quit living. Instead, we sit. We dream of moving. Or we simply hide and watch other people move. And we age. We get stiff. We get brittle. We become fragile. All the things we were never created for, we move towards. Eventually, we lose our strength, our mobility, and our freedom. And then, we become more afraid…
I don’t know about you, but I want to be free. I don’t want to be afraid to fall when I am 60 years old. When I am 80, I still want to be able to climb trees and hike up mountains. I want to be able to explore and create when I am a seasoned man. I want to live. I don’t want to exist.
Don’t you want that, too?”
You were made for amazing things. Don’t be afraid to fall.