Isn’t it strange how you can be living somewhere for an extended amount of time, yet not feel sentimental until the final few weeks? Suddenly, I’m finding myself reminiscing about this sunny, stone balcony adjacent to green grand trees, melodic chattering birds, a small field of grass, and a large parking lot. This balcony is probably one of my favorite spaces in the entire apartment; no matter what, I can come out here and feel at peace, overlooking this corner of the world in silence. Moments ago, I was shivering in my apartment due to the blasting air conditioning unit with low temperatures we have no control over. The natural air outside feels like sinking into a warm, relieving bath, while catching an occasional strange, cool breeze from the lingering air conditioning unit escaping through the screen door. The sun is setting, as another chapter comes a day closer to a close.
My balcony kept my roommate and I safe throughout this pandemic. She’s allowed us to breathe in the cool wind and rain of stormy weather, letting us exist harmoniously with nature, while keeping us dry all the same. She’s given me a space that allows me to step outside of my head and into my writing through an inspiring ambiance. Truthfully, I’m going to miss her.
I’m reminded of purple lavender gardens buzzing with bees outside my tiny home in England. During my last week before moving to the US, I paid extra close attention to my surroundings, wondering why I hadn’t been looking at them through this lens before. I’d miss the neighbor’s black and white cats I’d play with on the sidewalks and chase into the grass. I’d miss the first friend I ever made, Parminder, and our adventures walking home from school, chewing vanilla and strawberry bubblegum, then playing Crash and Sonic on her gameboy. I wouldn’t be zooming down the same streets on my bright pink Barbie scooter anymore. Everything was going to be different.
And oddly enough, a part of me was okay with it.
I wasn’t as sad as I expected to be. There were new possibilities I was excited to explore. Despite some wonderful days of fun and excitement, a part of me was ready to move on. Though change can present uncertainty, grief, and anxiety towards the future, there is a little feeling in the corner of my mind that is okay with it – sometimes excited, even. The more I listen to that little feeling, the more reassurance I feel.
Before the pandemic, I worked far too many jobs at once. I said yes more times than was healthy for me, and burned myself out beyond belief as a distraction and coping mechanism for what was really going on inside my brain at the time. The world around me and my newly influenced beliefs scared me into believing that success could not be obtained unless I was absolutely, completely exhausted from too many hours clocking in and out 8 days a week.
After being forced to stop, sit with myself, and reassess my values and decisions (despite the hardships that also resulted in this isolation period), I learned that you are not less dedicated as an artist when you decide to take breaks. You are not betraying your passions if you have multiple passions, or find another path that better suits your needs. You are quite incredibly human, which leaves space to explore as many or as little possibilities as you wish. Considering we’ve survived a global pandemic, I think it’s safe to say that we all deserve to cut ourselves a little slack – not just now, but for the foreseeable future moving forward.
Our societal values and beliefs make it very easy to feel like there’s a “right” way to go about life. There’s only one “right” place to move. There’s a “right” career decision to make. There’s one “right” step forward – blah, blah, blah. Here, I challenge you this: what about rephrasing this saying with the approach of, “What feels right to me? What is going to work for my values, my mental health, and the quality of my life?” Although my chapter in Pennsylvania is coming to a close, I’m stepping out with a newfound vision of self, security, and contentment, prioritizing the quality of living in my next move above anything else.
My roommate Emily recently said, “I feel content right now. Which also feels uncomfortable and strange. Because we’re not taught to be content.” And I completely empathize with her. Despite the stress of moving, the uncertainty of the future, and the anxiety around moving forward in a new direction, I feel more content than I have in a long time. I’ve said yes to opportunities that align with my values. And for the first time, I’m learning to say no to the things that no longer align with me or my path moving forward. Discernment and rest are beautiful tools in which I feel incredibly blessed to be wielding moving forward.
If you have any questions you would like me to answer, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they may be featured in next week’s article!