I’ve been spinning in my thoughts today. I could easily chalk it up to a lack of sleep or being cranky but I know it’s not true. Despite how little sleep I got last night, I woke up with a smile on my lips.
The problem is, I know it was something someone said to me today. A single sentence dominated my attention for a portion of the afternoon. I can’t decide what bothers me more. That I let something someone said get to me or is it the words which were unintentionally cruel.
I’d like to think the former. But I fear it’s the later. I found laced around the pernicious caution was my greatest fear. The very thing I work hard at beating back. The voice inside my head which haunts from memories past. It whispers the words of demons. Of school children, and obscene men. It’s the voice of heartbreak and loss.
I’m not a sad person. I’m not a mad person either. I’m not vengeful or spiteful despite the world giving me plenty of reasons to be. I know firsthand how short life is. I know it’s not worth holding onto the hate. Hatred eats at your soul and eventually will swallow a person absolute. I love life and all the things it has to offer. Even when swimming in the pool of my own skepticism. Even when there are those who add to my uncertainties. To my fear.
I can’t change or control other people. I can only control my own actions, myself. It’s one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn in life. The world will throw curve balls to keep you on your toes. I like to think maybe they lead us to a grander destination. Somewhere maybe we were fated to visit eventually anyway. Only we turned a blind eye once or twice or every opportunity before. The road there is never easy. If it was easy, what would we learn? Or maybe these are the things I just tell myself because somehow it makes life feel as though there is balance.
A friend of mine convinced me to write out this questionnaire based on values in life. The damn thing starts by asking you to write out the five “values” or personality traits I don’t like in other people. Of course, five wasn’t enough.
- Bigoted / Sexist / overall judgmental asshats
- Lack of tolerance for others
- Hiding behind a deity to promote hate
Then it asks you to list three moments you’re proud of in your life. Try to associate the value or personality trait to the memory.
- The first night in my own apartment. For me, this was about independence. Something I feel I’m lacking right now and I crave with every breath.
- Opening day at the bar. There are a lot of things I could say about my old business. But before it was any of those other things, it was something I created. It was something I gave my everything to. Something a lot of people didn’t think I could do. I think this has to do with ambition.
- Graduating along three other people in my class with both a high school diploma and an associates degree from college. For me, this is a lot like the bar. It’s about ambition as well. I was told by a teacher in high school I’d never amount to anything. My counselor felt the same way and never tried to hide it. I love proving people wrong. Don’t ever doubt my followthrough. If it’s the last thing I do, I will prove you wrong.
Next, it asks you to list your greatest failure and again to find that value. It can be a little tricky. While I’m not going to share my greatest failure I will say it was about being afraid. The opposite of fear is courage. So my friend assured me, despite my abundance of fear, it was really all about needing courage.
After moving past your failures, you’re expected to list three happy moments. Maybe even three of the happiest moments of your life. This should be easy right? I did my best to make it about me and not about someone else. Although if you are playing along and make it about someone else, I’m sure that’s okay too.
- Recently I talked about Newsies and it felt right to list this first. I’ve searched my whole life for moments like these. I hold them close to my heart. That feeling of comradery and love of a shared experience or thing. I think it’s the very reason fandoms exist at all. There is something special about them.
- Finishing my first novel. Most of you know at this point, I write. I write essays and short stories on my own for myself. I’ve been published twice on my own. But I also co-write novels with my dad. It’s a lot of things but I think what I love the most is how it’s brought us together over a common interest. We both love storytelling. Working together started kind of by accident. But it did work and finishing that first book was a tearful moment of sheer happiness having completed something that felt almost insurmountable in prior years. Together we’ve written three novels in total. We’ve outlined seven and a half titles together and are actively working on our fourth manuscript.
- This third one I’m going to keep to myself.
Next, we write about 3-4 people in your life who are close. List 5 admirable traits about each person.
I wrote about four people, two of which are my best friends. But I also believe in anonymity. I’m a writer. There’s little someone in my life can do to avoid being written about. However, I love the people in my life and that doesn’t always seem fair. So I do my best to leave those in question their anonymity
After you’ve praised on other people, go back through your lists and gather all the traits/ values/ whatever we’re calling them, in one place. Mine are as follows.
- Big Heart
These traits are supposed to make up the values in which you hold dear. I agreed with every listed trait in my case. There is one last task though. From the list above, pick 4-5 traits as the most important things you value in life. It’s hard.
- Courage – I think I was born afraid of life. It’s my biggest fault and the root of all my fears. But courage doesn’t mean you can’t be afraid. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It means that in spite of fear, you continue on. I value courage in myself and others. I look up to courage and I seek it out. It moves me to know something scares someone and they do it anyway.
- Creativity – I live and breath creativity. I surround myself with it and I seek it out in others.
- Acceptance – Wheather it is accepting my own falts or the falts of others. Accepting who a person is and who they are not. It’s about a lack of judgment for things that have no effect on my life. About embracing everyone for who they are and celebrating that person instead of condemning them.
- Balance – For me, balance is about something unseen. It’s about something more spiritual in nature. It’s about harmony and about putting into the world what I want back out of it.
- Ambission – This is the equivalent of passion in my eyes. Life without passion is simply dull. Ambission about life, work, love, creating, or enjoying, anything. Being excited and driven to make your life or those lives around you better. Driven to see things through to the end. Ambission comes in so many forms. It’s that drive to create or understand more then what’s handed to you.
If like me, you got this far, congratulations. It wasn’t easy. There might even be tears if you get super honest with yourself. That’s okay too.
I started this post with the intent of working out my thoughts on what transpired today. But I’m glad it took the turn it did. Because the things is, I can’t control anything but my own actions. That also includes what I value and what I don’t. Who I want in my life and who I don’t. I get to decide how what someone else says makes me feel. I get to choose to be upset or breathe it out and let it go. Today I choose to puff my chest and set my shoulders back. I know that person didn’t mean any harm. It doesn’t change the feelings associated but it does make it easier to let the hurt go. To kick the negative voices that agreed to the curb instead of wallowing in self-pity.