I didn’t make resolutions for myself this year and it feels incredibly freeing. Instead I’m focusing my time on one big goal – earning my space in the PhD program of my dreams. Unfortunately it feels like my brain is trying to betray me. The closer I get to the deadlines I’ve placed on myself, the more I find myself procrastinating, making excuses, falling into a hate spiral of insufficiency. Because they’ll never tell me I’m not good enough if I just don’t apply, right? Right.
Most every issue in my life can be boiled down into one thought: not feeling like I am enough. Good enough, smart enough, lovable enough. You name it and even though I logically understand that isn’t correct, my brain makes me feel something completely different. But that’s the funny thing about emotions and feelings – they just aren’t logical. Unfortunately every time I fall into this pit of not feeling good enough for a PhD program, it bleeds into all aspects of my life. I start worrying about things I would never worry about, things I’m not even sure I actually care about. In every interaction I can’t help but think “Did I upset them? Did I say the wrong thing? Did I do the wrong thing?” It’s terribly frustrating and painfully time consuming. I came across this post and I’m trying to take it to heart whenever I feel this way:
“People are usually tired and scared; not mean…How kind we would be if we could look beneath the surface behavior—the unpleasantness, viciousness and desperate grumpiness—and see that what could really be going on is just confusion, fear and exhaustion.”
Doubt is just a thing. Confidence is too.
And I’m trying to just let it all go. To not make large plans for myself this year (minus the PhD) or put too much pressure on myself. To make peace with the unknown – those messy, unstable, grey areas of my life. To embrace the chaos and arrive at contentment.
If I had to wish something for myself this year it would be to take the leap. To make more mistakes. Neil Gaiman said something remarkably beautiful that I keep focusing on:
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you’re making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and for all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
Cheers to a year of making mistakes, letting go, and attempting to quit worrying.
“You come to understand that most people are neither for you nor against you; they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you, a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing.”
This quote seemed especially applicable today:
It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself.
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.