What is left.

“I must achieve high. Gain the greatest influence. Be something great. I must do the most to be the best to get ahead.” This thought loop has been cycling along every one of my neurological orifices for most of my 23 years.

It’s only been about a year since I’ve stopped measuring my worth by my GPA, what internship I held, and what my career goals were. It’s taken a lot of work (read: therapy) to detach this seemingly calculable view of myself from a more grounded one. I haven’t fully shaken it. 

Constantly, I’m finding myself struggling to find expectations that I can meet and exceed with every task that comes my way. Work, life, love – it doesn’t matter in what realm I’m operating in, I just want to succeed in the right way.

The life I live and everything that must be started and finished is no longer a multiple choice test. Instead, the questions to which I seek answers don’t have a singular solution. I work in the business of people, factors with such severe variability you simply can’t enter it into any standard formula. I have to remind myself that this is actually why I like my work. To meet and learn and grow because of others.

The recognition of my programmed setting and the slow process of working to reset it is absolutely terrifying because I feel constantly at risk if experiencing more failure. Yet somehow, I’m also exponentially increasing my potential for success. It is hard to wrap my brain fully around all of it. But something has happened in the past few months that has made me pause and then propel myself forward in rewiring my approach to work and life. And it is this:

The world has stopped. We’re stuck in a moment, and life as we knew it in late February and early March here in the states, has been burned down. There are glimmers of the heinous system that once stood a little taller; racial inequalities, injustices and brutalities that stand as one pandemic next to another; the virus that some individuals still think they are immune to despite the millions sick around them. There’s an overwhelming sense of individuality despite the desperate need for community right now.

And I’m left with just one thought. That nothing really matters anymore. Let me be very clear. This apathy is certainly not directed toward political or social beliefs actually quite the opposite. 

All this personal nonsense and the privilege of even being concerned with having a career that could hold status is and has always been utterly worthless at its core. With the crumbles of what I once perceived as success now at my feet, I realize that it fell so easily because none of it was built out of care or passion for the actual thing itself. It was all fluff and distraction from what was really there.

I’ve been speaking with so much vague existentialist, borderline philosophy so I want to make this tangible.

What I have found before me are these brilliant orbs that when they were dropped didn’t break but just got a bit of dust on them. One stood for my work in food and beverage. The desire to create equal opportunity for others despite race, citizenship, class, gender or sexuality. To tell stories behind the food. To make people care about food and the inequities it often produces. The opportunity to build something from scratch. To make a mark. This orb is on fire.

And then there’s another orb that is just for stories and words. Ones that I want to share. I knew it existed. There are people who consume these words and stories. They devour and understand appreciate them. And it doesn’t matter how many of these people there are. It just matters that they exist.

Now I see that these two profound objects I have in front of me never had to exist in relation to wealth or status or esteem of any kind. It doesn’t need to be measured by the size of audience or monetary value.  

It’s freeing to be able to hold these things really lightly and gently. They’re guiding principles that let me move forward. The path forward is now loose and not a linear trail as I once saw it. A + B no longer equals C. All that’s left is mostly intuition, frightfully so. And because what I now hold are truthfully such vague images of a fuller life, it simply can’t be measured by any expectation. Oh! What a relief.

I most certainly know that I will inevitably try to create some sort of measure. It always feels deceivingly safer to go back to the known. But I am conscious that for the real success, to create these images that are blurry but so clear, I cannot put such measurable value on every step. Instead, I’ll know I’ll have arrived somewhere when the picture starts to burn a little brighter.

Read:

From On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong –

“But why can’t the language for creativity be the language of regeneration?

You killed that poem, we say. You’re a killer. You came in to that novel guns blazing. I am hammering this paragraph, I am banging them out, we say. I owned that workshop. I shut it down. I crushed them. We smashed the competition. I’m wrestling with the muse. The state, where people live, is a battleground state. The audience a target audience. “Good for you, man,” a man once said to me at a party, “you’re making a killing with poetry. You’re knockin’ em dead.”

Watching:

High Fidelity and The Great on Hulu.

Finding so much unexpected joy in The Babysitter’s Club on Netflix.

Listening: 

To Dr. Fauci’s words, always.

reflections in fall / oct 2019

A year ago, I was sitting down to write something I couldn’t finish. It was a manifesto of sorts on moving home. I never thought I would move home after college, but here I am getting ready to do so. I never finished that essay. Never hit publish on it. 

Weeks later, I’d be sitting in my capstone typing away at a transcript when I felt my chest collapsing in on itself. I felt my skin get tight. I needed to get out of my own body. I finished up my work as quickly as possible, packed up my things and told my professor I was sick and needed to go early. Minutes later I showed up in my best friend’s dorm room and said the words that were deep down inside me. The ones I’d been convincing myself to ignore: I can’t move home.

Home had been a way of searching of stability and safety. It was the escape route; one of the many plans I hatched when I felt stuck or unhappy rather than dealing with the situation at hand. I’d taken home as an answer because it was easier than doing the work to figure out what I actually wanted.

And now a year later, I haven’t moved home in the way I thought I would. Not to the home that means the place I grew up. In one way or another, I think I maybe have moved home in another sense. Finding comfort in a place that’s new but becoming more familiar with each day. I’m back at a job I once left. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, they say. They’re right. Sometimes you have to leave something you love to figure out what’s going on with you. It’s not you, it’s me – those words can be true. And you really can come back. Sometimes, you say words like this is temporary and I’ll come back and you wonder if they’re true. You’re scared they’re not. What a relief to be patient and discover that they are.

In the year that has passed, so much looks the same as the one prior but so much is different. I like the familiarity, but I’m relieved to see and be experiencing the growth and change of time.

In this moment, I know I unintentionally found the thing I had been seeking last year. I did it by throwing out the escape plans. I’ve attempted to shut down the section of my brain, that works to create those plans. Or at least I’ve gently learned to accept but kindly quiet it down. It’s still a part of me so I must understand her and know how to work with her.

I’m taking it all step by step. I’m learning to ask for what I need. I took the time off to go travel. I took the time off to be present for my loved ones. I took the time to tend to my body when it told me to. And before I really knew it, I realized the support system had formed, the home had been built, I was in the job I’d been chasing but this time felt like I fell into it. I even fell in love a little bit.

I get nervous to type those words. Especially when it’s early on, and you feel it so brightly and so intensely but there’s a piece that feels fragile. All of this is in process. Some pieces feel in the past, but it’s all active tense.

This year has come to me without a plan. It’s been the year of learning to go forward with a vision rather than written out instructions. It’s been a year of living in the gray. Right now I feel like I’m floating. It’s mostly peaceful, but there are still the moments when you close your eyes and realize maybe you’ve let go and there’s that flash of panic. It all comes and goes, but it’s rather beautiful. It’s so much fuller than before. It feels less like performing life and more like really living it.

Notes from home 10.18

fullsizeoutput_18ea

fullsizeoutput_18ec    fullsizeoutput_18e9

fullsizeoutput_18e8

fullsizeoutput_18c9

fullsizeoutput_18ed

fullsizeoutput_18ce

fullsizeoutput_18ee

 

As a freshman in college, going home for the long weekend in October was out of desperation for the need to be taken care of; it was to have my parents feed me, do my laundry, and most importantly – tell me everything was going to be okay. It was a reminder that while I am doing this really big thing and had gained a lot of independence really quickly, I could always come home to see the leaves change. Those couple of days were good for the soul.

And now as I’m in my final semester of college, those few days felt just as important. The weekend was different because while I know I have undergone significant change, it’s not always apparent to me that my home and the people there are changing too. Life looks a lot different for all us now. It is in the simplest facts. I make my own bed now. I babysit for my baby cousin born just this year. I have to speak a little louder for my grandmother to hear me. And I have a new favorite place to get a morning bagel.

It’s oddly comforting to find that home has changed. I’ve struggled with home and feeling like I couldn’t identify with it anymore because of how much I have changed. It felt like Maine hadn’t changed and going back felt like making no personal progress at all. But, it was different this weekend. Different in that I got to see how I’ve changed, how the people closest to me have changed, and the place I’ve called home my entire life has changed. But it was all in the best way. In so many ways, it felt like we’ve all changed to better suit each other. This weekend, Maine felt more like home than it ever has.

And while I talk about all this change, it feels odd to talk about it in the context of home. Home is meant to be familiar and so much of it is still for me. It still has the comfort of seeing my friend’s parents at the pizza shop or running into my sophomore year French teacher at a farm. I can still talk to these people who shaped home for me, as if we’ve never lost touch. Yes, there is so much to catch them up on, but it’s the ease with which I can tell them that assures me we’ve never drifted too far apart.

I think it’s perfectly timed that I get to rejoice in a weekend home every Fall as the leaves are changing. Home is the leaves on the tree – bound to change from year-to-year. There’s a duel-sided comfort of knowing that change is possible and unstoppable but also it’s familiar. It’s part of the cycle of life and something we can always count on. I’m so grateful for those bright hues of Autumn I snapped from the car as I drove back to Boston.

Winter Skin

Since coming to college my skin has drastically changed. It’s still combination but since my campus is in a literal wind tunnel during the winter, it gets DRY. Having done my first full year in Boston, I had to adjust my routine in the summer, and now I’m preparing for winter because we essentially skipped fall. I’ve gone back to a lot of loved products and my skin hasn’t felt this good in a while. I try and streamline my routines because I like consistency and want a routine I don’t have to think about.

My morning’s have to be simple because I’m almost always running late. It’s three steps and works wonder.

IMG_2026

Cleanse – Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash

I’d heard great things about this cleanser and finally got to try it thanks to my Birchbox subscription. I savored every drop of it and finally repurchased at the Sephora VIB sale. It goes on so silky, washes off and leaves my skin feeling so clean but not dry. It allows me the perfect blank canvas for the rest of my products.

Treat – The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid + B5 serum

I used Glossier’s version of this product for a while, I’d repurchased it twice, but I’m trying to cut back on spending and this is a dupe (technically it came before the Glossier serum) and even with shipping is still less than half the cost of the Glossier serum. I love using it because it helps with the roughness I can get on my cheeks as well as work as a primer when I apply my makeup.

Moisturize – Avene Cleanance Expert

I discovered this product through Birchbox, and it changed my life the moment I used it. I’ll never go back to a different moisturizer because it makes my makeup so smooth and doesn’t break me out or feel heavy. It’s truly mattifying while also allowing some natural glow. I can’t rave enough.

For my night routine I try and slow down and use my skincare routine to unwind. It’s a little bit longer especially since I try and mask every night when I have the time (sounds crazy, but my skin responds well).

IMG_2025

Cleanse 1 (not pictured) – Bioderma Sensibio H20 + Shiseido Facial Cotton

I love Bioderma. It’s the only makeup remover I have ever liked and I’ll repurchase forever. I changed the game by buying the Shiseido Facial Cotton. So soft and easy! Just a little luxury that I picked up at the VIB sale!

Cleanse 2 – Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser

This cleanser is so incredible. Tata Harper itself is an incredible brand because all the products are so clean and basically just plants. I feel so good about this product that I’m willing to splurge on. I actually only repurchased this product thanks to Credo’s Friends and Family sale and this product makes my skin so happy. It’s a scrub but I use it every night because it doesn’t strip my skin but gives me the right amount of exfoliation.

 

Tone – Origins Original Skin Essence Lotion

I don’t think this is necessarily toner, but it is incredible in every sense. I stopped using this product for a while, and my skin quality declined. I brought it back a few weeks ago and I saw instant improvement. It hydrates while also taking care of any acne scarring or discoloration.

Treat – Glossier Super Pure

This serum is my EVERYTHING. The acne I get isn’t constant, but I think that’s because I started using this serum, and it’s helped keep me blemish free. When I do get a pimple here and there, it dries them out so quickly. I get redness on my cheeks and this helps take care of that too. The Ordinary makes a dupe for this one, but I’ve heard it doesn’t work as well as Glossier so I’m staying loyal and willing to splurge.

Moisturize 1 – Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentre

During the winter, I like a good thick moisturizer that seals it all in. I got a sample of this moisturizer from Birchbox, and I’m thrilled with it that the minute I used it up I dragged my best friend across the city so I could go get the full-size at Target. It’s so smooth but doesn’t leave excess oil. It’s really good. I’m a firm believer in French pharmacy between this product and my Avene moisturizer.

Moisturizer 2 – Herbivore Lapis Oil

This oil works wonders for my skin. In the summer, I can use it alone as a moisturizer but now in the colder weather I’m trying to conserve the product since it is pricey. I do 3-4 drops in my fingers, warm it up and then press it into my skin to seal in my moisturizer. This product balances skin and works so nicely with my serum and moisturizer to prevent breakouts while staying moisturized.