That Wasn’t So Bad

That Wasn’t So Bad

Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and thought “Oh. That wasn’t so bad.” It happens to me a lot. Is that weird? It is, isn’t it? Because it sounds like I spend a lot of time looking at pictures of myself. But I don’t. I’m just saying that when I do see a picture of myself, I usually look better than I remember thinking I looked at the time. Usually. There are some pictures out there that exist for the sole purpose of keeping me humble. And keeping my haters justified.  But for the most part, looking back reminds me how skewed my current perception probably is.

Because I tend to obsess over the negatives. As part of my goal to launch a theatre company this year, I recently held a reading/listening party for a new show I wrote. And afterwards, a few different friends asked me how it went and if I was happy with it. And I had to answer honestly that no, I wasn’t. But I was never going to be. Because I never am. Because nothing is ever perfect and I am always going to fixate on what went wrong. During the first half of the reading, I was absolutely convinced that at least 80% of the audience was going to come up with excuses to leave at intermission. I was braced for it. And then it didn’t happen. They stayed. And afterwards, their questions and comments seemed to indicate that they didn’t hate it. And I didn’t hate it either… after two days of relentlessly picking it apart and putting it back together in my head. The reading was on Saturday evening and on Tuesday morning I made peace with it. And I’m pretty proud of that. Because that was record time for me.

But I want to get even faster in 2017. Faster to forgive. Faster NOT to forget. And faster to look back.

  • Faster to forgive. Not just others but myself. 
    “The only people who never fail are those who never try.” I’m not gonna like it, but I hope I rack up a record number of mistakes in 2017. Not maliciously, just meanwhile. In my attempts to move forward. And when I do, I hope I’m as fast to forgive myself as I would be to forgive a friend who I knew was doing their best to do their best.
  • Faster NOT to forget. To not let the bad block out the good.
    I lost two friendships in 2016. I mean cut out, radio silence, won’t-like-my-instagram-posts-anymore (#passiveInstaggression) lost.  And because there were no conversations and attempts at contact were rebuffed, the only reasons I can find in retracing our steps are so petty, that they’re almost award-worthy. (With the award being a no-expense paid trip to the nearest White Castle. Enjoy.) But I was shook. I found myself getting paranoid and waiting for my other two friendships to fall apart. Except… I don’t have two other friendships. I can’t tell you off the top of my head how many friendships I didn’t lose in 2016 because I haven’t been obsessing about those.**  But I should have been. I should be. When I’m losing things, I need to be faster not to forget all that I still have.
  • Faster to look back. And appreciate now for what it really is.
    I started re-watching “The Office” in December. So for a few weeks it was my constant background noise. And when it got to the last episode I was blown away by this Andy Bernard quote that I had forgotten: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” However faulty and flawed and far from the mark I am at this moment, I’m closer to where I’m headed than I’ve ever been. And when I look back on me three years ago, five years ago, ten years ago and I look back on the things I thought I’d never get over, the answers I didn’t have, the ways out that I couldn’t see… I have so much grace and so much gratefulness for those previous (dumber) versions of me and what I know now because of them. And I’d like to get better at looking back on these days while I’m still in them. And at giving myself grace and the space to learn what I don’t know yet.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting bolder or just getting older, but I feel like I’m getting over myself. I’m not necessarily worrying less about what other people think, I’m just not letting that worry have the final word. Because we’re going to fail. We’re going to fall. We’re going to lose things. And our lives are probably always going to look awkward to us as they’re unfolding in the moment. But someday, with some perspective, we’ll probably realize “Oh. That wasn’t so bad.


** I fully realize and acknowledge that not everybody is going to like me all the time. And fully realize and acknowledge any number of people have legitimate reasons not to. Yourself included, probably. So if you’re reading this and you are still my friend, you are a true Christian and da real MVP. And I promise it’ll be worth it someday.

Spaces

Spaces

I cleaned out my storage unit in November. Emptied it completely and (with the help of a wonderful TaskRabbit) hauled everything away. Some of it to my place. Most of it to Goodwill. And when I say most of it, that’s the God’s honest truth. It would be a safe estimate to say that I shed 80% of what I had been holding on to for somehow, somewhere, someday. “Are you sure you don’t want to keep this?” the TaskRabbit kept asking me about different things and while the hoarder in me kept wanting to reconsider, I was resolved to be resolved. So I said goodbye to boxes of clothes and shoes, pieces of furniture, dishes, shelves, odds and ends; with some unopened/brand new things in each of those categories. And you know what? It was hard. And it was expensive. And annoying. Having to get up early on a Saturday: hard and annoying. Catching an uber to and fro: expensive and annoying. Hiring a TaskRabbit: expensive. Letting go of the way I thought my life was going to go: hard, expensive and annoying. Because that’s why I had the storage unit, right? To stockpile things I used to have space for while waiting to have space again. Somehow, somewhere, someday…

So what made me give it all up? Two realizations:

#1. It wasn’t fair.
Things are meant to be used. It’s what they (non)live for. And me keeping them locked away was feeling more and more wasteful. And selfish.

#2. It wasn’t worth it.
I’ve had some type of storage space for nearly three years. And as I have moved and my living situation has ebbed and flowed, I have downsized as needed, but averaging it all out, it would be a pretty accurate estimate to say that storage has probably cost me around $4,000. And NOTHING I had in storage was worth $4,000. Maybe all of it together was worth that much. MAY. BE. But, sentimental value aside, with any long-term storage arrangement, there is going to come a point where the cost of holding on, is equal to and then higher than the cost of replacing. And to be completely honest, I probably crossed that threshold 4 months in. Maybe five. MAY. BE.

So I set a date to shut it all down. And I remember getting there that morning, unlocking the unit and just immediately feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting through it all. “Maybe the taskrabbit will cancel and I can just save this for another day… maybe I should just cancel the taskrabbit and save this for another day… maybe I should just keep saving all this for someday…” The second thoughts were there, but I had already given up my sleep-in so too bad, too sad – it was happening. And it did. And afterwards…

It felt SO. GOOD. I actually felt freer. There was something liberating about knowing there wasn’t a bunch of stuff waiting to be sorted. And something exciting about not knowing how I was going to replace any of it. Not that I would have to worry about that anytime soon. Or so I thought.

But three weeks ago my roommate got a new job. In a new city. And she’s moving today. As we speak. So when I go home tonight, it will be to a now unfurnished apartment. So all that stuff I gave away… well, I was thinking about it this morning and you know what? I’m still glad it’s gone. Maybe even more glad. Because instead of stocking this new year with old things, I get to wait and see what God has next for me. Will it be annoying and inconvenient when I go to reach for something (a toaster, a kettle, a couch) and it isn’t there? Yes. But will it kill me to be without it temporarily? No.  “But Janice,” I can hear some of you saying, “Wouldn’t it be better to have something than nothing while you wait for the next thing?” Good question. And the answer, for me (and probably for you), is NO. Because most of the time, when I have something, it’s really hard for me to make space for the next thing. Because why should I? If it ain’t broke, why fix it? And if there’s no space, why fill it?

If I had to sum up 2016 in one word, that word would probably be “loss”. From celebrities to politics to friendships because of politics… I feel like we all took a lot of Ls. And those were the public, widespread ones. On personal levels there were breakups, financial issues, plans that went awry, relationships that went off-track, hopes that were disappointed – I feel like 2016 left us all with new uncomfortable spaces. And old spaces feeling emptier than ever. In December, I had no less that three friends who went on Bumble streaks. And I myself spent about 36 hours on Coffee Meets Bagel before remembering that nothing is actually better than something when something is just a bunch of nothing in disguise.

So for those of us who entered 2017 with spaces in places we’re not quite sure how to fill: good.

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lordhe brought me into a spacious place.
Psalm 118:5

God is a creator. He specializes in making something out of nothing. It’s kind of like His thing. But He seems to like starting by clearing something out first.  So what do you have in storage? And I don’t mean just physical storage units, I mean in the back of your mind and heart. What old habits, relationships, apps or coping mechanisms are you hanging onto? And why? Maybe it was the best you could do in the past, but do you think it’s the best God can do now? Or next?

Lowkey, I’m excited by all the blank spaces I’m facing in 2017. Because I have no idea how to fill them, but I know someone who does. And I trust that He will. Because NOTHING is impossible with God. So He’s always up to something.