Wednesday, August 20, 2014

not-so-quick fixes.

A fork in the road. Literally.
Learning how to unclog a slow-draining sink in college was the most useful--and irritating--skills I picked up while living in an apartment. The natural fix, as you probably know, is to pour a combination of baking soda and vinegar down the drain (creating a "volcano" effect), wait about 10 minutes, and then pour hot water to wash it down. If the clog is more severe, then that's when you break out the tools. Repeat again, if necessary.

It's simple, but it requires patience, and you never know if it will fix your problems entirely. It might require more attention, or perhaps it becomes a consistent problem and will need more than just your usual solution. Or maybe it'll be two years before a problem springs up again--you just don't know.

One thing's for sure: if you sit and wait for it to fix itself, you'll be waiting for a very long time.

A couple months ago, I poured metaphorical baking soda and vinegar down the metaphorical drain of life and waited to see what would happen. I'd been feeling, for months, that someone had hit the 'pause' button on my life, and I was just wasting time, waiting for someone else to hit 'play.'

And then I decided that was dumb, and if you want your life to change, then do something to change it.

The problem is that I've always felt like I've built my life around other people, other things. Maybe it comes from 'younger child syndrome' and this need to make everyone happy, or it's a result of the bubble of dependency my parents (as well-meaning as they are) created. Oh, you need someone to work a sixth day and not get paid extra for it? Sure, let me move something in my schedule. Moving into a fifth-floor walkup and need someone to carry a box? Hold on while I get my sneakers.

Need an internship? A recommendation for a job? A place to live until you get on your feet? How about I buy your first month's worth of subway rides too--just to make things easier for you?

(I'm not bragging about how helpful I am. I'm admitting I'm a complete and total pushover.)

After two and a half years in New York City, I've come to realize that I have to change. Not that I have to be a total bitch and never do anything for anyone ever again, but I have to stand up for myself more. I have to live my own life. I can't keep building stairs for others while my own ladder rots away.

So when Jessica posted this link to 15 Nora Ephron quotes on life (and if you know me, you'll know my love for Nora), I realized what's been missing in my life: I haven't been making an effort at all to create the narrative of my life. I've been waiting for others to do it for me--something that never works for anyone.

From Ephron's 1996 commencement address at Wellesley
“We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was [in my twenties], I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy.”
I guess what I'm trying to say is: right now is as good as any time to make big changes. And sure, I've said this before in other capacities, but I think I have always been waiting for the stars to align themselves in this perfect way before really doing something about it. I always thought if I said it out loud that I wanted my life to change, it would just happen. But that's not the case: the truth is that I need to be proactive about what I want the story of my life to be. I need to stop living for others. To divorce myself fully from certain people, to learn when to begin to sever ties with others. To finally separate the good from the bad, and give room for new opportunities to breathe and to grow. I just need to carve out my own space in this city, and find those people who can restore my faith, my heart, and my lust for adventure.

And I know this won't be the last time I'll need to make some changes--but this is the right time to really get started.

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