It has been 3 months and two days since I last blogged, and 28 years and three days since I was born. Seems like as good of day as any to:
- Find out if blogs are willing to give you a second change after you try to delete them and talk sh*t about them to all your friends.
- Analyze all the ways in which I am under-accomplished for my Age.
So, for starters:
Dear Blog: I’m sorry that I thought you weren’t good enough for me because you contained too many stupid posts about yoga, and in particular one really embarrassing about yoga and my “Lady Holiday.” I realize now I’m the one that wrote the yoga posts, and the post about photographing half-naked wrestlers, and even the one about being afraid to ride my bike. All you did was host them on the Internet like I asked. You forced me to see myself clearly and that turned out to be difficult for both of us, though clearly not your fault.
If you’re willing to forgive me, or at least hear me out, I’ll give us a fresh start, and start this post in yoga class…
As yoga class on the day before my birthday drew to a close, I found myself in Savasana, in a peaceful, trance-like state of clarity, thinking: Oh my god, I’m turning 28 and I have neither a graduate degree nor a husband.
Because I was in a trance-like state of clarity, I was actually pretty ok with this. I said to myself, “your birthday is just a sensation, passing through you like ripples on the lake of life! Your present moment is full of goodness, and no alumni magazine or website with a stupid name like “the knot” can tell you otherwise.”
In short, I was oozing yogic awesomeness and transcendence, and damn proud of it. Of course, everyone knows the number one rule of Inner Peace is that as soon as you brag about it (even in your own head) you lose it.
The minute I opened my eyes, I looked over to my friend on the mat next to me.
“Almost birthday time!” She said.
“Oh my god!” I wailed in response. “I’m turning 28 and I don’t have a graduate degree or a husband!”
“Noo!” My friend, who has a graduate degree and an ex-husband, threw her arms me. “It doesn’t matter!”
In honor my swiftly approaching Special Day, I decided to try and believe her. Earlier in the day, I’d been on the phone with my brother. He was worried about What He Was Going to Do with the Rest of His Life, and I urged him to try thinking about what he had instead of what he needed.
“Capitalism thrives on you feeling like there’s something missing!” I insisted. “Try focusing on everything you already have that’s good, instead!” Since he was nice enough to humor me with an emphatic, “you’re right!” I figured I owed to it both of us to take my own advice.
The truth is, it hasn’t been all that hard for me lately. I know I have a good life. I have a good job, a good place to live, good friends, a good relationship with yoga, and the good sense to appreciate it all most of the time.
What’s more, I have a good idea of how I got here. I do feel like I’m way behind behind where I should be, but I’m not sitting around wondering where all those years went. I might not have gotten what I wanted out of them, but I was certainly trying awfully hard the whole time.
So, on the day of my birthday, I vowed to accept the fact that I’d done my best and would have to live with the consequences. I was running late to work and told myself to just deal with it. By 8 thirty am, things were already mediocre, and I was fine with it.
Then I came into work and discovered that my whole desk had been covered in wrapping paper, including the giant cardboard box I put my computer on so I can stand while I work. That was just the beginning.
Another coworker came in with a smattering of vegan raw treats and a special single drip pot he’d brought to make me gourmet coffee.
When I came back to my desk someone had left me Diet Dr. Pepper, and for the next few hours, I had a treat every time I returned to my desk, ranging from a birthday card, to balloons, to a crudite platter to a Starbucks card.
I really felt like the luckiest person on Earth. But as I did, I found myself doing the inevitable, ego-driven thing and trying to compare and contrast, toying with the thought, “this is so much better than graduate school and a husband!”
Those kinds of thoughts never pay off, because they don’t tell you anything about how you are, they’re about how you are in relation to a world full of people you don’t know.
Personally, I’ve been accepted to graduate school four times, enrolled twice, dropped out once, and failed to show up on the first day yet another time. And while I’m sure husbands are fantastic, the mere thought of having even a boyfriend makes me feel like I’m coming down with the flu.
It may be that these standard “achievements” are not in the cards for me right now. Maybe they’re not even things I want. They are, however, useful tools for relentless self-criticism. AKA not very useful at all. “You did your best,” I reminded myself. “There’s nothing you can do to get younger or more accomplished right now.
I’m not saying that my best was “good enough.” (That would be unquestionably un-American.) I’ve made more than my fair share of misakes on the journey to this point. I cowered when I should have been brave. I whined when I should have been grateful. I held on when I should have let go and ran when I should have paused. I said “yes” when I meant “no” and “maybe” when I meant “yes.” I spent a lot time worrying about being too tall that I really should have spent doing just about anything else.
But what amazes me is how none of those mistakes can be corrected in here and now by dwelling on them. At dinner later in the day, my father, who was generous and cool enough to fly in with my step-mom for the occasion said to me, “I’m very proud of who you are.”
“But!” I cried out, only half in jest, “I don’t have a graduate degree or a husband!”
“I didn’t say I was proud of what you did. I said I was proud of who you are.”
It’s perfectly fine to have goals, but you’ve got to set them with whoever you are in mind. And if you really have a lot of problems with who you are, you’ll set goals that are wrong for you, and you’ll never reach them. The cycle will continue, and one day, you’ll resort to solving all your problems by buying new shoes just like everybody else.
It’s an easy thing to say, but a hard thing to put into practice.
The next night at Yoga class (yes, Blog, I’m still writing about Yoga class, you win, and I’m sorry) I ran into a friend who I’ve only seen a handful of times since I’ve moved here, but for whatever reason, she comes to me whenever she needs to make a decision or other advice.
“How are you?” She asked.
“Ok,” I told her, “except that I just turned 28 and I don’t have a graduate degree or a husband.”
“Oh come on! Just think about what you would tell someone else who was saying that.”
I smirked. “I don’t know…what would I tell someone?”
“Oh, you know….that those things…Oh! You’d say they were arbitrary. And they didn’t really mean anything about success or failure.”
We both laughed. “That is what I’d say,” I admitted. “But…”
Sure, in blissed-out Buddha-land, everything is arbitrary. In the world, you need to find a happy medium. You don’t have to buy into society’s definition of success, but you’ve got to have something in your back pocket.
All through class, I tried to figure out what it was that I had that could make me take joy in the present moment, despite how behind the curve I felt. I thought about how I could finally do handstand but immediately found myself angry that I didn’t do it when I was younger. I started thinking of more things I should have done when I was younger. I started thinking of more things I could do that would be not so impressive because I wasn’t younger.
In short, it was tough going. When we left the studio I was feeling a little sullen. We spilled out into the warm weather on Mission street, where some locals had their van parked, doors opens, and music blaring. They were doing salsa on the street to “Dancing Queen.”
“Only in the Mission,” I shook my head. Then, I remembered when I was 17 and we used to park the car in the street and dance to Led Zeppelin, or Freshman year when we ran around the hall dancing to the very same song.
Without thinking, I began to twirl. “Yeah, RB!” my friend shouted. A little old Chinese lady behind me started clapping for me, in time with my dancing. Another spiral around and I looked up — right at my roommate’s best friend — who was walking towards us on the street.
When we were two feet past him, I shouted at the top of my lungs, “Of course I would be the one to f%*king run into someone I know while dancing to “Dancing Queen” down Mission street.”
And then I realized what it is that I have that no crappy comparison can take away from me: Impeccable timing.
(Blog: 1, RB: 0. Better late than never.)