“Me” time. I’ve never understood the concept. I found it to be a little obnoxious if even. Why do I need to take time for myself? As if I’m not constantly making decisions that benefit me.
But this last month has been full of reflection. And I think I might finally understand the concept of taking time for yourself, although I’d probably call it something else.
Generally speaking, the motto for my life has been: be a better human being. And you can imagine how quickly someone might fail at this quest. Every day I hadn’t accomplished something to save the world, advance my future or change a life, was a day that hadn’t lived up to my enormous expectations.
And in that deep and ambitious search for purpose, (because that’s really what I’ve been trying to find) I found myself not only constantly physically and emotionally exhausted, but deeply guilt-ridden when I felt like I’d wasted my time.
But here’s the thing: If I’m going to beat myself up for every time I watch a movie on Netflix instead of figuring out how to become a better human being, I lose part of my humanity in the process. I lose out on one of the most valuable gifts we have as humans, the gift of just being.
In this last month, I took plenty of time to just enjoy this gift. I took a 36-hour train ride solo from Winnipeg to Toronto (a “waste of time” I could’ve easily avoided by taking a plane). I stretched my musical muscles and released my inner gamer geek. I watched tv shows and movies. I went biking and worked muscles I didn’t know even know existed. I started sewing and painting again. All things I’ve been meaning to do for a while. But I just couldn’t give myself the time. I couldn’t see how any of these activities would add up to something meaningful, something I could use.
But most importantly, I learned to write again. And I think that’s what really did the trick. Writing has played such a huge role in helping me process life. Every time I’ve put a pen to paper, I’ve come out with a strong sense of self and understanding of the world than I had before.
So here’s to allowing yourself to just be. And in that process, becoming a better human being.
I’m standing at the train tracks. The platform is dark except for the muddy yellow street lights overhead.
Across the tracks I can see into the city. Neon stores signs flicker “open” & “24 hours.” The crosswalk signal counts down from 10 in an orange glow.
It’s freezing cold. I miss my gloves. There’s a chill in the evening air that feels wrong, like news that arrives too early. Or maybe it’s right on time. In the steady silence, I’m left with nothing but my own thoughts.
I don’t exactly know how I got here. Well, I mean, of course I know. I walked here, like I do every Monday after my shift ends. But now, I will leave this routine behind. I will shed it uncomfortably to lay naked for a time, until I find new clothes. New opportunity.
As much as I mourn the loss of this comfort, I can already feel the buzz of something new stirring. Its coming. I feel it creeping slowly in the air, drawing me in. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s just my own well of hope reflecting back at me. I always feel optimistic as one door closes, convinced that I’ll hear the click-click of another opening.
It’s never a guarantee, though. Sure, there will be something else. But will it be better? How long will I have to wait?
In the distance, I hear the faint ringing of the coming train. With each second, the bell tolls louder and louder. I feel a push in the air the moment before the train passes. In a split second, it is whirring by me.
As it slows to a stop, I let out a long, cool breath. This train is heading home.
For the last two weeks, I’ve actively been choosing to spend time in silence.
When I’m on a streetcar, when I’m walking down the street, when I’m waiting for the bus; I put away my headphones and turn off my phone or iPod.
I do this because I feel like I need to give my brain some breathing room. If I’m constantly subjecting it to a non-stop stream of noise and information, when will I ever just think?
If I’m consistently detaching myself from my environment, when will I ever see and hear what’s new to discover?
It’s interesting to me how active this choice has to be. It seems it’s more natural for me to plug myself in, than to just stand, sit or walk. It’s like I can’t commute without a soundtrack. I’ve lost the ability to just be alone with my thoughts. And I find that to be a terrifying.
Thinking, pondering, reflecting… all of those are vital to the idea-generating process I so desperately need to fuel my writing career.
So, I’m actively choosing to be still — to give those quirky ideas the space to float into my brain where they can hatch into something new.
I’ll admit I have no idea how to blog. Just now I hit publish on this blog and all the text disappeared on me. I thought maybe the universe was sending me a sign. But here’s kickin’ it to the universe.
I don’t know what my writing style is. Or my tone. Am I funny? Am I serious? Am I opinionated?
So many great writers out there are and I’ve often wondered how they do it. I imagine they are the most amazing, gifted, wonderful people in the world. The internet was made to read their witty banter! But me? Oh…I’m not so sure.
This month marks one year since I graduated from university. I don’t have a fancy career job. I had a great, but brief gig as a teleprompter operator but I’ve still stuck with my main retail job that I’ve had for the last three years.
I didn’t have high expectations for immediately finding a job with my journalism degree. I wasn’t worried. I figured things would just play out organically.
But as the anniversary of my graduation has come and gone, I find myself motivated more than ever to find a job. Maybe because I don’t want to ever have to say that my undergrad was a waste. Mostly because I’ve foolishly decided that I refuse to quit looking for my dream job. Even if I have to make it for myself.
So, here’s to blogging again. Hopefully this one saves. I’ve just about used up all the rainbow and unicorn power I could find.