adulting coupla steps ahead of me

I was feeling people-weary and in serious need of a nap after a few weeks of busyness. Even this meet-up had been delayed by weeks (weeks!) of missed schedulings and packed agendas, but Mary sought me out and even treated me to a dinner — work had run late and I was coming to 7 pm on an empty stomach.

The tiredness, combined with our shared — though light — history, made me especially honest and vulnerable with myself on this evening. I’ve known Mary for a long time now, though never closely. I munched and aired all the struggly thoughts I’d been (not) working through, and she was patient and gracious to listen.

About friendships. About disappointment. About feeling like I’m regressing socially, though society tells me I am progressing just fine (“wait, how do I make friends again?”).

About small talk and the dread of it on Sunday mornings.

About writing. And feeling like I was doing a lot, at the expense of thinking a lot. Cause it does feel like a zero-sum game. Time is limited; so am I. This is especially so for time belonging to me.

She responded with wisdom that made me think that even this lil sandwich-and-tea meeting — such a small little blip in the grand scheme of everyone, everywhere — had been preordained. Made me think that she’s been where I am and that she’s stepped forward into betterness. Made me think: “There’s hope for me, too, then!”

She heard my woes about friendships and affirmed, yes, that the conclusion shouldn’t be a deflated, disappointed one. There’s more to hope for there. We were made to live in community for a reason, and friendships are a huge part of that. Shifting, changing, sure, but not disappointing.

She agreed about the social regression and the small-talk dread and the limitedness of time and energy. And with her agreement, helped me feel not so alone, at least.

She said that she had asked herself all these questions, too. And interestingly, the progress was found in asking even more questions. Sneakily similar to the ones before, but really crucially different.

  • Instead of “what does it mean to be a good friend,” ask: “what can I do differently to be a better friend?”
  • Instead of “when will I finally feel comfortable and belong-y here,” ask: “how can I better serve the people of my community and love them first?”
  • Instead of “why must I make so much small talk in life,” remember: “small talk is the juice and the glue of the every-day Wednesdays.”

It’s all about slight shifts in perspective. I hadn’t been all that off track. The tiniest pivot will catch different glimpses of light, display different hues, make different shapes.

Thank you, Mary unni. Yeah, it feels right to call you “unni” at the end of this dinner and this post.

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:) 9/18/16

hi E!

I liked New York! and yeah, that’s something I’ve thought about these past two trips there — whether I’d like to live there or not. I think I’d like to — just for a year or two, maybe. it’s definitely a little too crazy for me for the long term, but I think for a short while, I’d enjoy the liveliness! Mark never wants to live there, though, so…maybe not. haha we’ll see. who knows what’ll happen. I never went to Take 31!

I know it must be so hard… but you’re absolutely right that the Lord is with you. and through EVERYTHING, he’s shaping you and molding you to be the person you’re meant to be. yeah, maybe that’s a good gauge of whether or not you’re progressing and moving in the right way — if certain steps you take (or don’t take) are refining you (in your character) to be more like a character that God would be pleased with. the fruits of the spirit, right? if certain situations, even if they don’t seem to be “clear” in terms of your career path or life trajectory, are increasing your character’s capacity for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… maybe that’s a good sign. but if you’re decreasing in patience… if you’re at a loss for joy… if you can’t hold onto faithfulness… maybe it’s not the way to be going. maybe it’s time to find a different direction from the Lord. whatever that might mean in your life right now.

a verse that talks about this “refining” love of God: Isaiah 48:10

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
    I have tried[a] you in the furnace of affliction.

 

this is a good reminder for me, too. life is pretty good in general, but I find myself getting impatient with people around me — friends, family — and also just really easily upset by trivial things. traffic. messes to clean up. stupid stuff like that. and I take out my anger on other people around me. but doing that takes away any semblance of love, of joy, patience, kindness, goodness from my character… I am NONE of those things when I dwell on the negative. this is clearly not the right place for my mind and my heart to be in.

hope you’re well! happy Monday.

:) 9/6/16

hi E,

 

I stayed in midtown, right in the heart of Manhattan — Koreatown, actually. I never did walk by the UN building, but if I had, I certainly would have said hello for you.

 

the trip was really nice. I learned a lot at my conference (“editorial freelancers association”) and got to catch up with some old friends…from high school! so that was really weird and nice. it felt like reaching back to three lifetimes ago — through college, through high school in Charlottesville, then high school in Cincinnati (I used to live in Cincinnati!). with those friends, it felt (mostly) the same, which was nice. I mean, our lives are so different now from when we were in high school…obviously…but our friendship and our conversations felt the same, like old comfy…socks.

 

Mark and I did a lot of walking around. it was super tiring but also good. it’s fun to travel with him. I heard on the radio today about couples that are successful, and how the one factor across all these couples was the “awesomeness factor.” basically, it means that the likelihood of the couple’s continued happiness depends on how “awesome” they think the other person is, whether their beliefs are objectively based on reality or not. haha. basically, wearing rose-tinted glasses 😉

 

another cool thing was that the awesomeness factor had the tendency of making the person (the object of admiration) become as awesome as their admirer believes them to be. believing is seeing is being!

 

for you, too, I wonder if this helps.

how’s it been these days? are you still working at the airport? send me news of you.

love,

m

connections in commiseration

we’ve already shared a lot; lots of car rides and first moments, of joys and sorrows and fears of young adulthood — even tears and subsequent consolation.

I wonder why it is, though, that I feel such a disconnect as we make our endless smalltalk, as I nod along to your endless stories, as you share with me your world via pop culture. no, don’t get me wrong — your smalltalk is masterful, your stories epic, and pop culture, well, that’s prolly a lost cause to begin with. but there’s something stale and crunchy and frictiony I can’t get past, and I’m not sure whether it’s me or it’s you or it’s us. prolly a combination of all three, on different occasions and different environments.

there is one thing, though, that always brings us together: commiseration. about how expensive rent is, how tired we feel, how sad and measly our lives are in this great and epic place and time. there’s something about complaining about things worthy of our gripes while trying our best to be optimistic and belly-laugh our way through it all that makes me feel genuine with you. maybe it’s a human thing.

you are lovely. and I know that. I just don’t know why I can’t feel it. why I can’t touch it, grasp it, talk to it. without complaining about it. eh hem.