Hey Her Track Family,
It’s been a long time since I’ve caught up with y’all, for reasons that are both good, and bad. Within the past year or so I’ve seen a few countries, lost some loved ones, graduated college, had my heart torn asunder, gotten a real-life adult-job and even went blonde (I’m a brunette)! During this 360-some odd day period where everything I thought never would or could happen did, I’ve had an epiphany about in regards to myself and people I interact. It’s just as good, and just as bad, as everything else I’ve experienced up until now, and something you may find familiar.
In my preparation for graduation and dedication to becoming an expert in my craft (I’m a writer for fun, and I get paid for it full-time, too), I spent a lot of my free time rubbing elbows with incredible individuals in publishing, fashion, journalism, social activism, the blogosphere, travel, science, politics, and even television. I made as many business connections possible with people who showed me how to be a more competent networker, a more expressive writer and an editor who is more in-tune with my clients. I run in the social circles of people who know what it’s like to struggle as a creative with bills to pay, but also understand the passion and grit that it takes to be the type of person who is willing to take risks to make art, create social change and be their most authentic self.
By getting to know these people all over the world, by watching projects flounder as well as thrive, and by learning how to put my nose to the grindstone even when I’m tired, missing my friends and pressed by difficult work, I’ve learned so much. I’ve discovered that the person I thought I was a year ago and the person I am right now is not only better, but more brutal.
I’m more demanding and more driven, in ways that extend well beyond my career and creative interests. I can’t help it. This new, gritty me has meshed over time with the different versions of myself, including daughter, sister, friend and girlfriend. It’s caused me to want and expect more– not only of myself and my work, but from my relationships as well.
I wanted to be a better everything than I am, and I wanted for everybody I care about to want more along with me, too.
That doesn’t mean I know how to to make that happen. Just as it takes a lot of learning and communicating, elbow rubbing, and networking to be a good writer, it takes just as much, if not even more effort, to learn how to be a better you when the person you thought you were is changing–fast.
We all go through changes. We invent and reinvest ourselves. We discover parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed, within the wreckage and also the triumphs of our lives. The problem is not everyone is able to keep up with the ‘new you’ when this happens, and not everyone was able to keep up with the ‘new me’ either.
Some people rose to the occasion, even when I wasn’t my best in the midst of my own ambitious endeavors. They always wanted me to be great even when I wasn’t, and now without them I can’t do anything that I do (and honey, I do a lot ). Even when I break down and have no idea what I am doing, they are there.
We all have these people, and fight to retain them as we grow. Remember to cherish them though, for they are often few and far between.
Of course, I can’t say the same for everyone I know. For some people, new worldly volatile me is just too much. I’m too loud or latch on too hard. I’m too focused on work and not focused enough on having a good time. I give more than others are willing to get, let alone reciprocate. I have too many emotions… In other words, I’m too “new me.”
Listen, when life hands you lemons and squirts you in the eyes with the gift it gave you, that stings. It might even blind you for a little bit. But eventually the pain subsides, and whether or not you like it you’ve gotta drink that lemonade without question. And there will often be sugary sweet at the bottom if you allow yourself to get there.
Sometimes life sucks, but it’s got its perks. And sometimes, the perks aren’t the company you keep. They’re dreams realized and a self reborn.
Anybody who bows out when the sting burns but wants to stick around for the sugar, kick them to the curb, baby. If people can’t deal with how horrible you are when things are bad and how great you are when things are good, it’s time to walk away. If they can’t take your change, don’t force it.
I wanted so badly to hold things together where maybe I shouldn’t have–with friends, with classmates, and with boys even. I begged, I cried, I wrote novels worth of pleading and confronted problems that I hadn’t created on my own, but seemed to want to solve on my own. And it’s just not worth it. It’s agony. It hurts and leaves you sour lemon bitter.
I admit it– that I’m bitter. I’m bitter, but better than I was when I tried to bend a will that wasn’t my own.
The beauty about my will is that I’ve bent it so many ways that it is a tangled mess, and that’s the way I like it. It’s artistic, creative, manic and free-form, like me. And that’s the epiphany.
When you hold onto the people that are showing you signs that it’s time to let go, please try and let go. You’ll know. I knew. Don’t ignore it. I know I did. There are so many more amazing things you can put your energy into than salvaging ties that aren’t up to you alone to upkeep.
And as much as I am an optimist, new me is also a realist. You might think that you’re changing somebody else’s mind or heart in your fighting to hold on, but you’re focusing on bending the wrong will. Maybe it feels like you can’t be without this person. You can’t imagine your life without your group chats, your coffee dates, your phone calls or your inside jokes.
But the truth is, you can. What you can’t live without is whatever “you” you’re stifling with who needs to be let go. And the letting go doesn’t have to be prompted by some big, tumultuous life change like mine that somehow justifies protecting a “you” that’s worthy of preservation.
You’re worthy of people who can keep up, who can hold you up and who can hold it down–for you, always.