Disney on a Whim

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The Solution

What do I have to look forward to?

I’m realizing that a great deal of my emptiness is flowering from the harsh reality that it seems as though I have nothing to look forward to. Not this week. Not this month. Not in 2013 in its entirety. My time is planned around my awkwardly terrible work schedule and how many sets of clothes I packed with me this time. For a girl who has lived most of her life balancing scheduled events and planning each and every day by the hour, this kind of freedom is not liberating. It’s painful.

What can I do? How can I gain back any ounce of hope or faith that I had in myself? Where do I turn so that I can once again rely on Allison and not the undying support of others? I’m dwelling on the past twelve months trying to figure out what could have possibly fallen apart for me to feel like this and I’m sorting through memories, dreams, and regrets hoping for any clue as to where I went wrong. Once again I’m thinking about the summa cum laude graduate and the president of the honor society who couldn’t manage to find enough courage to dive into the real world. I have to remind myself everyday that this is what I wanted. Not a nine-to-five or a contract and a supervisor telling me how to live each day but spontaneity. Spontaneity and whimsy.

What do I have to look forward to?

If looking over 2012 doesn’t help me to find any answers then I’m going to have to create another solution: don’t look over 2012. From now on I’m going to do my best to forget about everything that’s been consuming me body and soul. I’ve created this problem in my head that I’m not good enough for myself. I keep believing that I’m an utter failure solely because I don’t have an agenda or any immediate direction. Well, if that’s what I find to be the problem then the solution is simple: I’ll get an agenda and I’ll obtain some sort of mediocre direction. And thus, ladies and gentlemen, my New Year’s Resolution.

What do I have to look forward to?

It’s not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy getting off from work at four in the afternoon and staying on the couch snuggling with a Pabst and the cutest boy for the rest of the evening. In fact, I prefer that. But every now and then it’s time to change out of the yoga pants and see the world. Anyone can see a movie or sip margaritas by the pitcher-full but it’s so much more fulfilling to know that in just a few short months, weeks, and finally days you’re able to see someone that you haven’t seen in awhile or attend an event that was so carefully planned. I’m passionately in love with being able to look ahead in my $9 Wal-Mart planner to a day that’s neon highlighted with importance and excitement. And there’s nothing like not being able to sleep because the next day is a day that you’ve been waiting for. How can I make this feeling happen again? What can I do to fill my calendar once more? Where do I begin back on the road to self worth?

What do I have to look forward to?

Summer? Moving? The potential of finding a real job? My next day off? Becoming healthy again? All of this seems so arbitrary, so mediocre and fragile. I truly want something solid but I don’t know where to begin. The future seems so vastly void of anything substantial and after years of striving for perfection and looking towards an ideal future, I’m here, in the future, and it’s nothing like I dreamt. I know that there’s still time. And I know that I’m not in this alone but how can I create an agenda and how can I find any sort of direction when at this moment all I have to look forward to is my next pay day. And for what? So I can buy those shoes without an occasion to wear them? So I can pretend that finding an apartment or planning a trip is anywhere within reachable grasp? I feel so plainly mediocre.

What do I have to look forward to?

A New Year’s Resolution? A year and the rest of my life that I can mold any way that I like? I’m doing my best to look to the immediate future and focus on true happiness in that way. I’m fighting not to compare myself to those who have had the time to figure everything out and I’m counting my blessings the best that I can. I have to smile knowing that even though my planner is empty, summer is months away, and moving won’t happen as soon as I would like it to, I get to wake up next to the one I love and realize that I’m never in this alone. Maybe I’m not used to the idea of never having any sort of plan. And maybe I’m not comfortable with looking ahead and having absolutely no idea what will happen. But I’m loved and in love and the idea of creating an agenda and direction with the human that I crave most by my side is the most deliciously tempting feeling that I’ve ever felt.

I get to look forward to each day seeing the smile that has driven me crazy since I was fourteen. I get to fall asleep as the jet pack or the little spoon and I can smile knowing that pizza, cheap wine, and Netflix at midnight will always be enough. I get to look forward to living a reality that I’ve looked forward to since four bra sizes ago because after years of standing on the sidelines and waiting for what I always felt to be inevitable, the timing is finally right and I get to look forward to summer, moving, and creating a life for myself with the one person that’s always left me at a loss for words and given me too much to say at the same time. This realization that I need nothing else to look forward to is long overdue and I’m begging whatever supernatural force that there is out there to let me feel like this forever.

Never stop laughing at my terrible jokes. Never stop playing with my unruly hair. Never stop tolerating my ridiculous obsessions. Never stop looking at me the way that you do. Never stop making a special portion without onions for me. Never stop freaking out and Googling the closest 7-11 when I say my blood sugar is low. Never stop searching for a six-pack of Kingfisher for me. Never stop emailing me memes. Never stop being yourself. Never lose your faith in me.

I have the best things to look forward to and I suppose that it’s time that I start taking my own advice: life isn’t about finding yourself: it’s about creating yourself.

The World Could End Tomorrow

Lately I’m at a loss for words.

I have a thousand  emotions tumbling around in my heart and a million thoughts making their home in my head but I have no way of expressing myself. I’ve sat down to write a hundred times and all I can think to do is think. I think about time and I think about exactly how I feel but there just doesn’t seem to be a way to allow all of these poetic paraphrases of life escape. Even now, I sit in a house that doesn’t feel like a home and I want to cry and I want to scream but I decide that all I really truly want in life is some certainty.

I can’t use the word “unhappy” and I’m trying desperately not to be the drama queen that I know I am. But I’m staring at the pristine books that I want to have the focus to read and I’m remembering the tens of boxes in the basement full of the items that I’ve been collecting for a future that doesn’t seem to be coming. I want to start anew and I want to feel like the adult that I am but the sad reality is that I’m living out of a duffel bag and the only thing that has made me feel accomplished in the past several weeks is learning how to balance eight wine glasses in each hand.

But lately I’m at a loss for words.

I’m realizing that polishing silverware and ironing linens is my therapy and as I spend hours upon hours a week in terrible shoes and denial, all I can do is think. Think about my dreams of graduate school that won’t be coming true any time soon. Think about the teaching certificate that I’ve yet to receive. Think about the apartment that I want that seems more and more each day like a fantasy. Think about how the highlight of my day is multiple likes on Instagram and how silly that is. I feel truly and utterly pathetic. The world could end tomorrow and it’s everything in my power to force myself to think about everything in my life that I have going for me. At least I have a job, right? I have a place to store my boxes of forgotten ambitions and a place to call “house” even if I can’t call it a “home”. I spend my days with people who make me laugh and generally lift me up when I’m frustrated or upset. And I’m beyond blessed to know that I get to be in love with someone who thinks that I’m most beautiful in oversized pajama pants and the tank top that I’ve been sweating into all day.

And lately I’m at a loss for words.

I can only pin so many quotes to my “Inspiration” board on Pinterest before I have to get up, do something, and find a way to gain my voice again. I’m not invincible but I’m also not defeatable. The world could end tomorrow and it’s everything in my power to force myself to think about everything in my life that I have going for me. I have love and I have life. What more could a post-grad nothing need?

Free Falling

What is life outside of my comfort zone?

I’m discovering the answer to this question everyday. I used to think that it was only possible for me to function out of a spiral notebook full of calendars and to-do lists and while I still find writing everything down necessary, I’m experiencing what it’s like to just chill out.

I’m definitely learning from the mistakes of my past. It’s not easy to hear someone who you love point out your flaws and it’s even more difficult to get over the pain of that criticism, dry the tears, put the big girl panties on, and accept that everything that they said was right. I was so vastly caught up with what will happen in the future that I completely forgot about the immediate present and ended up missing out on great times and ultimately ignoring those around me. I didn’t know what it was like to take life one day at a time and I certainly didn’t understand why anyone would want to. I think that I now understand why and I’m frankly embarrassed that it took someone openly evaluating me to figure it out.

But how does a person reevaluate everything that they know and every habit that they have and learn to give up ignorance and selfishness? I can honestly say that I have no idea but here I am doing it everyday. I often think about how events in life lead up to other events in life. What if I hadn’t moved there or what if I hadn’t said that? I’m over the pain and over the grief and here I am months later finally realizing that receiving that criticism is quite literally the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Had I not made those mistakes and had I not been blissfully blind, I wouldn’t be enjoying the life that I am today. Sure I’m frustrated with my living arrangement and overwhelmed with graduate school applications but I’m quickly realizing that I’m exactly where I should be and that bit of knowledge is more than worth the price of Kleenex and lacy thongs.

What is life outside of my comfort zone?

The reality is that I’ve grown up more in the past several months than I have throughout the past several years. I once spent a undocumentable amount of time desperately trying to find myself and here I am, broke, bored, and living in my childhood room, finally realizing that life shouldn’t be about finding yourself, but rather about creating yourself. I’m finally gaining the courage to step outside of all that I know and all that I’ve thought I’ve known and just be myself, sans planner and calendar. I don’t have to figure everything out now. I don’t know have to pretend that I have everything together to prove to someone who I probably don’t even like that I’m gaining credible success in life. Life should be whimsical! Life should be a series of unexpected moments and a kindling of relationships, dreams, hopes, and thoughts. So what if I don’t have things planned out? I’ve tried that. It didn’t get me anywhere. Sure I can imagine what life will be like a year from now. We all can. We hope and we cling but the truth is that we just don’t know. So why live by the books pretending that we do know? Why drive ourselves crazy attempting to conform to what society thinks that we should be? 

Just weeks ago I was torn between wanting to wear a blazer everyday and believing that doing The Wobble with a $2.75 rail drink in my hand once a week was okay. I truly believed that society expected me to get up and sit in rush hour traffic everyday and that those who had received their diplomas and left student housing were automatically supposed to feel differently about line dancing on a sweaty dance floor. But it’s time for me to pop the bubble that I felt that I had to live in and free fall. To hell with society! I’m going to wait tables and stay up all night while letting my shoes blister my heals because dammit I’m 22 years old and I’m not ready for a nine to five.

What is life outside of my comfort zone?

It’s driving into the city at 11:00 at night just because I feel like it. It’s applying to graduate programs in cities where I don’t know a single person. It’s living out of a duffel bag unsure of where I’m going to sleep tonight. It’s driving three hours to a place where my best friend is just so that we can set aside the iPhones to enjoy a margarita face to face. It’s realizing my true loves in life and picking up the camera and brushes again. It’s having the courage not to know what will happen tomorrow. It’s letting myself learn from others again. It’s doing what I want without the concern of what others might think. It’s ignoring the things, people, and memories that bother me. It’s giving my heart, mind, and body in the most vulnerable states to the one person that’s always been in the back of my mind. It’s throwing caution to the wind and just living.

Happiness Is…

Friendship. Humans crave humans. A touch can make a person shiver. A glance can make them smile. A complement can have a most dangerous effect as it can leave a human over analyzing, judging, and ultimately wanting more. The reality is that we cannot survive without others. As children we depend on the care of those who brought us into the world. As adolescents we rely on the  support of those closest to us. And as young adults we need the contact that only certain people can successfully give to us. I didn’t realize the capacity to which I depended and relied on those closest to me until they weren’t around anymore. It’s a strange and new emotion- going from social butterfly to having to accept that you simply have almost no one. I’m a human craving humans and at this point I’d do anything to have my friends back in my life more regularly. I spent this past weekend in Salisbury, however, visiting (most of) those closest to me and during my visit I realized several things.

First, how incredible they are. It amazes me how a human can be so undeniably compatible with one human and so obviously incompatible with another. And I have to say that I’m glad to be compatible with these people. The laughter never ceases and the warm-fuzzy-feelings become overwhelming. They’re honest, open, and painfully caring and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m smiling because they are my world.

Second, how regretful I feel. If I could go back and do the last four years over again, I’d do everything differently because now in my lonely state I realize that my desperate desire to simply be left alone then has altered and contorted my feelings and memories now. I would say “yes” to invitations more often. I would take more pictures and make a greater effort to transition acquaintances into friends. I’d make them all a priority over everything else because now I’m left with a ridiculous hollow feeling and the inkling that my 4.0 GPA wasn’t worth the time alone if it meant sacrificing the opportunity to build memories with the people who dared to tolerate me.

And third, that I am truly the luckiest girl in the world, even if I’m more often than not too blind to realize it. I apologize to all of you where an apology is needed and I thank you for taking the time to be my humans. We’re all just humans craving humans and I am truly blessed that you crave me just as much as I crave you.

Even though I often feel like I’m missing out, like I was forced into this childhood bedroom and ripped from my friends, home, job, and life, I’m learning to cherish every moment that I have. My mind is at peace when I think of what I share with the people who mean the most to me. Our years together were short and I may not have as many memories as I’d like to have but the ones that I do have are more than I could ever ask for. Everything with them is copacetic and I can look back and smile because I know what happiness is.

Happiness is… 

Love. I’m young but I’ve grown enough to know that there are different kinds of love and that each kind comes with its own set of feelings, thoughts, and responsibilities. I’m young but I’ve grown enough to know that truly, all you need is love. There’s the love that I feel for my family. The you’re-really-annoying-me-right-now, please-stop-talking, there’s-something-stuck-in-your-teeth, I-can’t-wait-to-get-away-from-you, but you-will-always-be-my-number-one type of love. There’s the love that I feel for my friends. The will-you-come-to-the-bathroom-with-me, I-envy-your-clothes, you’re-kind-of-being-an-uppity-super-skank-right-now kind of love. There’s the love that I feel for material possessions. Perhaps “love” isn’t the best word but I know that I’m not the only one who has ever said “I love these shoes” or “I love this super-fake-but-kind-of-real-looking-Coach-bag.”

And then there’s the top-of-the-world type of love. The sort that is patient, kind, and never boastful. The kind of love that makes you feel like you can do anything because your world is heavy with the promise that someone might feel the same way you do. The type of love that leaves you speechless and giddy because that person smiled at you a certain way or placed their hand on your waist. The type of love when the word “love” doesn’t seem like nearly enough. It should be used for lamps and elephants and The Goonies and pizza- not to describe the way that you might wake up in the morning thinking about a person, go about the day wanting that person, and go to bed at night wishing they were there. All you need is love. Find love and you’ll find happiness.

Happiness is…

What you make it to be. Six months ago I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing but to me the definition of happiness weighed on whether or not I could compare myself to someone else and win. Happiness depended on the fact that I was smarter, better looking, or more successful. Six months ago I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing but I certainly never would have thought it would be where I am now and I certainly never thought that this situation could eventually be accompanied by happiness. But when I think about it, I’m kind of living the dream. I get to get up every morning to the most beautiful time of year and sip English breakfast tea while I explore my Kindle. I get to run everyday and think about nothing. I get to see the person who makes me happiest and spend time dreaming about and planning my future as I pour over study guides and graduate school applications. I have the whole world at my feet and the rest of my life in front of me so what’s the rush?

Someone recently told me that I deserve the best. That I deserve to go and to do whatever I want. At the time this comment aggravated me (as sweet and heartfelt as it was) because how could someone who couldn’t even manage to coordinate a professional backup plan deserve anything but the guilt and shame that they already felt? But I understand now. I see that I don’t need to get up for a nine-to-five everyday or have an answer when someone asks me what I do to make me feel happy because the truth is happiness is what you make of it and life is too short to do something that you don’t enjoy. I know friendship and love and I think that I’m starting to believe that I don’t need anything else to experience happiness. I’m young and wild and free and in this moment, I swear that I’m infinite.

Starting Over. Again.

Success is a funny thing.

In today’s society it’s measured by who notices you and whether or not you’re recognized. It’s built on the implication that not only have you completed a job well done but that someone of some varying degree of importance has bothered to take the time to inform the rest of the world. I like to believe that success doesn’t have to be proven with a plaque or a certificate. It’s nice to think that one can feel successful on their own accord and that sheer joy or bliss is all that a person needs to determine a lifetime of worth. It’s nice to think that because here I am buried in a pile of said plaques and certificates stating that I’ve graduated summa cum laude, top of my class, class speaker, president of the honor society, and in academic recognition of the university president and yet I don’t feel successful. I suppose that I did then as I received my diploma and shook the dean’s hand and proceeded to talk about my plans and my plaques for the next few weeks. But the reality of the matter was I had no plans.

The only serious job that I had applied for denied me after I had spent literally months collecting the letters, proof of my education, and legal documents that they were asking for. It’s strange to think that had that worked out, I’d be in Europe right now teaching English and no feeling or emotion that I’m experiencing today would exist. I spent my summer in denial of my utter emptiness, spending forty dollars at a time on crab feasts and sushi buffets and debating whether or not I wanted to go home after work to finish the 30-pack in the fridge and fire up the hookah with my work friends or just stay there and sip mediocre margaritas and whiskey sours with our forty percent discounts. I had no direction, no ideas. I was so disgustingly infuriated with myself that I decided that I was convinced that it was okay with me that whatever happened happened. I was living life on a whim and pretending that that’s just the kind of person that I was.

I realize now that living in that cramped, hot apartment in Ocean City made me feel like I could go nowhere. After all, I was just a restaurant hostess and shot girl who was denied the only big girl job she had applied for. My plaques and eight Dean’s List certificates meant nothing. My perfectly prepared commencement speech didn’t matter. And my desire to feel loved and wanted was honored and crushed within a matter of days, sending me to relive life in my childhood home. Only this time without the flock of friends that I was so accustomed to before the life changing mold of college. I also realize now that I would give anything to relive that cramped, hot summer. I would give anything to have the company of friends again, to hell with my feelings of emptiness. So what if I stuffed my face with shellfish and raw seafood? What does it matter that I scraped quarters together for another vodka tonic if it meant priceless hours with the people I loved that I’ll never get back? What is wrong with me that I complained of a mediocre life when I’d give anything to live within walking distance of those people again?

Success is a funny thing.

I tasted success again briefly while employed at a preschool. Here was the well-known-among-the-department elementary education major, slaving over posts on Monster and Craig’s List because she wasn’t smart enough to plan backup employment options when a seemingly perfect opportunity came along. I could teach with freedom without worrying about standardized tests or picky administration only concerned with appearances. I could play and laugh and simply be with those people who I enjoyed most: children. And for several weeks that is the absolute perfect happiness that I was experiencing. I felt (dare I say it?) successful. I once again felt needed and appreciated. I was excited to get up in the morning with my new sense of self-worth and slowly I was forgetting about the past mistakes I’d made and the impending loneliness I felt without the comfort of almost every person that I knew.

But as quickly as it had started, it was over. My hours were cut to almost nothing and though Ms. Boss Lady said it was simply because of funding, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had done wrong. I couldn’t help but once again lose my feelings of success and the all-too-familiar wet blanket of failure began to settle in. It wasn’t economical to continue driving forty minutes each way for only a few hours a day so with tears in my eyes and a rock in my stomach, I resigned. I thought I had a week to tell my students. I thought I had days to prepare them and prepare myself. To remind them that no, they wouldn’t see me on Monday but that yes, I would always care for them. But life has a funny way of creeping up on you and while I’m happy to never have to deal with the terrible management of that place again, I didn’t get those days and I didn’t get to say goodbye. And now I’m left alone again, unsuccessful and overwhelmed with the realization that I didn’t impact the lives of those children, they impacted mine in a way that I never thought possible. Life is so simple to a three-year-old. Success is never measured by plaques or certificates but rather by getting Oreos in your lunch. Success is based upon the implication that it’s sunny out today and you’ll get to go down the slide and play in the sand box. Success is being alive and well enough to hold hands with your best friend. And it will never matter if someone recognizes your job well done or not because dammit you got to play with Barbies today.

Success is a funny thing.

I may not be in Spain teaching five-year-olds their colors in English or able to rewind to relive the summer of a lifetime with my best friends. I may never see a single one of those kids again or find any sort of fantastic career in the near future. But in this awkward time in my life when the best half hour of my day is spent watching Jeopardy and my favorite pastime is reading british novels under the family Muppets snuggie, I can measure success through the eyes of a preschooler. I can look to the future and set aside my feelings of loneliness and sheer embarrassment because in a world where success is measured by recognition and who helps to write your story, at least I have a story. And it’s not over yet.