April 4th, 2018

this might be a manifesto.

“All my troubles at the moment are caused by the mere fact that I am trying more and more to be myself.” — Henry Miller, from a letter to Anaïs Nin

I made a pact with myself over the past year. I wanted to be more open and honest, internally and externally. I was tired of separating my true self from people with a phone screen. I was tired of living an inauthentic facade and pretending I didn’t want things, when actually I did — when I wanted quite a lot. Mostly, I wanted to be the biggest version of the best me. But, I was wholly unprepared for the fallout of this decision, both good and bad.

This week is my one year anniversary of moving to Berkeley. I decided I was tired of sharing a house with three other people and holding back what I really wanted to do (which was move in with my boyfriend) because of others’ opinions. I tested the idea to a chorus of, “ooh, that seems soon,” but, ultimately, I decided — screw it. Life’s too short, and all the rest of that cliched garbage that rings oh-so-true in a particularly passionate moment.

I can say now, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Moving to Berkeley shaped me, it made me whole again. It taught me what life could be like with a supportive partner and that ‘home’ is actually so many tiny, seemingly disparate things rather than one big, obvious one. Home is reading over eighty books in one apartment, remembering the particular way the sunlight hit you while you lingered over morning tea and a very good read; it’s also playing board games together and sharing a haphazard dinner of olives and popcorn, starting different D&D campaigns, hiking together, joining an urban wine club because we can; it’s finding a new yoga studio, new bookstores, new restaurants, new things to love. Home is buying a lot of plants. I was (am) finally happy again, like deep-down-sunshine-in-my-bone-marrow happy.

It’s been a year of self-discovery and reinvention and asking myself: “What do I want my life to look like?”

With this physical shift to a new place, I decided I wanted to cultivate positivity in all aspects of my life. I mean, why not? It seems so easy, so achievable when you’re happy. I planned weekend getaways, started cooking at home more, I lost weight, I decided to take college classes to get a raise at work, I started training for a new teaching position. It’s been stressful at times, but I am still here. I am still creating my best life.

As it turns out, some people don’t really like it when you try to positively change yourself, or when you succeed, or when you’re happy. Ideally, we humans want to surround ourselves with friends and partners who do like it, but we aren’t always that lucky. I’ve lost people in the process of trying to be direct, honest. I’ve been friend-ghosted and stood up. I’ve been called “competitive,” “jaded,” “opinionated,” and “snobby” — though I don’t know that those adjectives are particularly accurate, they stung. Alternatively, I have also been called “beautiful,” “a good friend,” “strong,” “intimidating,” “kind,” and “the most varied reader I have ever met” — you see, I wrote the good ones down, because the bad ones always linger in the periphery, whether you want them to or not, and the compliments tend to slip through your hands like sand.

There is no one-sentence takeaway from this experience. No whittled down top five list. My only salient point would be change is hard, loving yourself and letting yourself be loved is hard, striving is hard. But it’s so good too.