I have nothing planned to say. In fact, I had no idea I was going to say anything; no intention of sitting down to type out any sort of portrayal of the last twelve months. But, nonetheless, here I am. If nothing else, I’ve opened a document, given it an attempt at a catchy title, and expressed how unpreparedly I’m approaching this. I’m itching to write it all down, to try and figure it all out for myself, but if nothing else I’ve gotten this far.
Struggle is hard to talk about. Not just because it resurrects that which can be most painful, or because you’re afraid of what the people hearing your depiction will think of you and your experience. It’s hard to find the words, the right words, to express how complex, and unexpected, and tremendously and disastrously messy it is, and everything becomes, when struggle sets itself in your path. It’s a bit like a cow in the middle of the road.You can’t go through it, you can’t really go around it, so you just wait, hoping it moves along quickly and you’re not too late to get on with the rest of your life. Except I would never consider running over a cow, but I would be just fine running right over struggle (i’ve heard about a million and one people say that you have to go through and overcome struggle to get to a “better and brighter other side”. That is probably true, but it doesn’t make going through it suck any less).
If I had known last September that the year of growing, expanding, and becoming a healthier more improved self that I thought I was undertaking, would actually be a seemingly endless string of days that blurred together and felt heavy under the weight of all that “struggling”, I probably still would have done it. When you’ve got little else to go off of, and the structures that had made up your life and belief system start to crumble, there isn’t much else to go on but the sometimes forced belief that the other side really will be better and brighter.
I left school, that was the first thing. I got there, moved in most of stuff, met the year and the friends I hadn’t seen since the last with all the excitement that I had been curating over a summer spent dreaming of things I wanted to do and falling in line within the structure I had created of how I “should” live my life. A structure based in unhealthy habits, information I had gathered from other people’s lives not my own truth, and a false sense of control I was grasping at over my life and what happened in it. But then a stressful concoction of not feeling like I could do what I wanted to do, being back in the scene of a miserable freshman year, and the building heat of that toxic structure that I had been avoiding truly dealing with, eventually reached a boiling point. I packed up all that I had arrived with and came back home. I love home, i’m eternally grateful for the existence of it; the safest place i’ve ever fallen.
Then the days, like the weather, started to turn. There I sat for months, watching it all blur like the trees outside the car window while I sat motionless in the passenger seat. Everything I thought I was coming home to do (study, learn, prepare, emerge into this confident and exceedingly happy person) felt like the destination I was headed towards but could never quite reach and it felt further and further away (what if I never got there?). I didn’t do it, any of it really. I mean, I worked on (and am still working on) emerging into that confident and exceedingly happy person, but now I’d say the result I’m really hoping for is comfortable and creative. I did work though, I got a job at a juice and smoothie bar and spent a lot of months meeting an interesting collection of costumers and making at least one million smoothies. I also met what have become some of my favorite human beings, and to them I am unimaginably thankful.
It’s been a long year, one of the longest of my life. I’ve never known three hundred and sixty-five days to carry so much weight, or to be littered with quite so many unexpected complications, events and general messiness. I have known struggle, I really think everyone has, but i’ve never stood in the boxing ring with it and not run away. I can’t say I’m grateful for it (yet?), or that I don’t wish desperately with a frustrated sigh, that this year hadn’t been more like I expected or that the results of it all felt better, but I’m not turning back. I’m sort of excited. Just like this year started, I’m packing up my stuff and leaving headed on a new adventure. This time, however, I don’t have a list of things to accomplish or big results I’m hoping come from it. I’m just gonna go. If the year ends up being me just sitting in a new place still being inundated with the same feelings, than thats just fine (but I’m really, really hoping that’s not the case). But me and all of my various pieces and parts are going, we’re showing up.
Complications, unexpected events, and a general mess are all a part of struggle. But, to be fair, they’re also kind of a part of the human experience. Ranging in magnitude and results, all of these things are intrinsically intertwined into life. Struggle is a part of life. I think the really nasty part, the part where we inflict more unnecessary pain onto ourselves and onto others, is when we try and compare or “rate” our struggles. Is there not something disastrously wrong when people think: “I have nothing to complain about, nothing truly bad to feel horrible about. So many people are struggling so much worse and they have a reason to feel this way”. No one wins the struggle competition, there aren’t even really teams, just people floating around trying to make it one day to the next. No one would watch the struggle network, the halftime show would just be as messy as the game itself. Somehow, even still, it is so hard to appreciate the validity of what we’re going through, what other people are going through, and how hard it is no matter what it is.
Whats worse is that we make it so much worse for ourselves and others when we start thinking about “should”’s. Why is “should” a part of struggle? I mean, why has it become a part of life in this hugely negative and venomous way really, but why do we make struggling so much worse by bringing in a seemingly endless list of what we “should” be doing, or what “should” warrant us feeling this miserable or confused or beaten down, or all the thoughts that we “shouldn’t” feel this bad, be dealing with this, not be able to live our lives as happily and care free as everyone else we see around us or on social media seem to be. Honesty, I think all we really “should” be doing is trying. Trying to live our lives, to be authentic, to deal with all the heavy and messy things that show up in our lives. To try and actively participate in our lives. There isn’t even really succeeding, there is just trying, and usually, I’d say, some good comes from that. That, in itself, is hard enough. Trying is really hard, and sometimes it’s overwhelming and exhausting. But trying also feels like a much better place to deposit all my energy; much better than putting my energy into comparing or listing “should”s. But after so much time spent putting energy into those less than stellar areas, it’s hard to redirect it into trying. So, I guess that means I want to put my energy into trying to try. Trying to try and live my best life. That feels like all we can really do. It also feels like it’s worth it, though; like it could come with lots of rewards.
So heres to trying, trying to try, and to showing up.