Darlings, I am going to give you some advice. Now, I know you didn’t ask for this, but after a conversation I had yesterday—I think it’s needed. And with Valentine’s Day coming up, I figure it can’t hurt.
If you’re single, it’s okay. Bad failed first dates—dates that lead nowhere? That’s okay. That’s not a reflection of you. If someone doesn’t appreciate you for who you are (not funnier, not taller, not prettier), then that person is not right for you. Period. You are not unworthy or less, if someone cannot see all the wonderful things about you. If you have to change yourself (physically or personality-wise) to fit into someone’s life/heart? Well, that’s not real love.
And let me tell you something about real love: it will blow you away, once you find it. It will lift you up, not keep you down and never keep you small. Crazy Muppet hair will be appreciated. All your humor will be endearing. Because finding someone who cares for you just the way you are? Man, it’s magic. And it will do your soul more good than a thousand empty, shallow relationships.
Because you are not a vague ideal of a person. You are not a silhouette. You are blood and flesh. You are years of gathered wisdom and experience. You are a person, not a human-shaped checklists of requirements. Life is too short to be with someone just to be with them. It’s too short to settle. It’s too short to be anything less than 100% bloody you. Because you are excellent, just as you are—rambling and nonsense included.
Find someone who loves your weird. Find someone who loves your flaws (spoiler alert: that person won’t see all the bad crap you see about yourself). Find someone who sets your soul on fire. Find someone who thinks your taste in books (or comics or movies) is fantastic. Who can match you Princess Bride quote for Princess Bride quote. Someone who encourages and supports you without hesitation or question. Because that’s what you deserve.
And me? I’m single. I may be single for the rest of my life, and that’s fine. I know what I deserve, and I won’t take any less. Sure, I’ve been on my share of bad first dates. And it’s rare than anyone gets a second. Does that make me a snob? No. I just know what I want. And I know what it’s like to be understood and appreciated. Anything less is…well, bullshit.
If someone wants you to be thinner or younger, blonder or more poised, or somehow more easy/manageable? That person is not right for you. That person is not worthy of you. Because real love can find you in the most unexpected place and the most unexpected time. And the secret is, even if it seems insane, it’s worth it. It’s worth all the crazy. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in time and effort. It doesn’t mean love isn’t work. But it’s the good kind, like pursuing a passion you love. Like doing something you can’t live without. For me, real love is like writing. I can’t breathe without putting words down on paper. If I don’t write for a while, I feel so off-kilter. So…un-me. Love is like that too. Not a need or a want—but somehow both. Easy, like second nature, an instinct.
Find the person who feels like art. Who thinks of you when they’re falling asleep. Who meets you for coffee and remembers how you take yours. Find the person who lets you in and asks you to redecorate, not the one who expects you to slide into what’s already that. Because love changes you, on both sides. And it should. But always, always for the better. It’s not that you aren’t whole to begin with. You are. It’s finding someone who matches you, step for step, without ever thinking twice.
Believe me, darlings, you deserve that kind of love. Nothing less will do.
I don’t believe in coincidences. There’s too much that goes into a moment—too many factors—to pretend that something means nothing. It’s not random. It’s not happenstance. There are a handful of things, at the very least, that aligned, which results in a Thing Happening.
Yesterday, on my way home from work, I drove past—literally—someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, someone I have been thinking about. Someone who I miss, for a million reasons. The person was in the lane next to me, and there was this shock of recognition, as I leaned forward, “Is that…? It is.” But then, I drove through the intersection, and that was that.
This person isn’t someone I ordinarily run across. But things like this have happened in the past, in instances where it should’ve been impossible. Or, at the very least, highly unlikely. And yet. And still.
That happened. This small moment, literally at a crossroads. And it really got me thinking, more so than usual. Because so much has happened lately, and some of it isn’t mine to tell, but they’re the blindsiding moments that take your breath away. Sucker punches to the soul, the kind of things that make you stop, force you to stop and think about your life.
Are you doing what you want? Are you doing what you love? Are you with the person you love? Are you allowing yourself to be loved? Are you open to it? Are you open, period? (If the answer to any of these is “no,” then that’s something to think about.)
There are no guarantees. There is right now. And right now, whether or not we know or acknowledge it, we’re all at a crossroads. Every moment is a choice point. Every second is an opportunity. Seize it.
Because everyone has that person, right? That person you can’t stop thinking about. Maybe your reminders are less literal, less in-your-face than mine. But when it’s quiet, when the world stops demanding things of you, when it’s just you and your thoughts: what’s occupying them? Who’s occupying them? That thing your heart and your head on settle on?
Make the choice to bring it into your life. Because there’s just this moment, there’s only right now.
When I was seventeen, I was (despite my own rampant insecurities) completely and utterly fearless. I had no fear of new things, uncomfortable things, or whatever pushed me out of my comfort zone. If I wanted something badly enough, I went after it or I just did it. I don’t exactly know where that courage came from. By all accounts, I was kind of a dork. I was necessarily confident, but I did know how to fake it. Or, at the very least, hide it from those who might use my insecurities against me.
The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend about horseback riding. And how she used to have absolutely no fear and would hop on any horse, no matter how bonkers. I was the same way. In fact, my last horse was a handful; he was not mean by any stretch of the imagination. But he was spirited. If you didn’t know what you were doing, he would take advantage of you. As such, I was not allowed to ride him for a long time. I would argue with my mother for the chance to ride him. I lobbied like hell and fought for what I wanted. And I remember, with unflappable certainty, informing my mother that I would ride him – and that it would be okay. It would be more than okay. He and I would be brilliant together. And you know what? I was right. We were. We made the perfect team. (Except for the time he and I nearly ran over my BFF and her horse. In my defense, I thought he would stop. MOVING ON …)
Despite circumstances or even visible observations, there are moments in life that are just like that – where you look at a situation that might seem totally insane and completely impossible, and you just know. There are times where you look at a situation or another person, and you think, “This is completely insane.” But despite that blatant insanity – or, simply, how it looks from the outside – you know that it will be entirely, impossibly brilliant. You know that it might seem crazy to other people, looking from the outside. But there’s the quiet voice inside you know that so full of certainty. So full of yes. It’s totally and utterly devoid of doubt. It isn’t a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. Because, regardless of what might seem like total madness, you know. And you’re ready to take that challenge. You’re ready to take that step. You believe, pure and simply. You are brave, but it’s not even bravery that’s needed to take that first step. Because you know in your heart exactly what’s right. Exactly what you need. Exactly what to do.
And you do it. Forgetting what everyone else may think. Forgetting all irrelevant outside opinions. Forgetting the naysayers and the ones who might tell you, “You’re going to get hurt. This might go badly.” It’s like exactly like getting on that horse, as I did, when everyone thinks you’re completely out of your mind. That horse just got me, and that’s so important (for those of you who don’t know horses – you need trust). Because he would do anything I asked of him. He’d jump anything. He’d try anything. He was a beautiful horse to begin with. But together? We were a badass team. And that’s a magical thing, you know. He made me a braver rider. Sure, he might’ve tried to kill me a time or two, but what relationship is perfect?
As we grow up (more chronologically than maturity-wise), we often begin to shy away from the ability to believe and fight like that – with unvarnished boldness and certainty. I don’t know if it’s because life has a tendency to wear us down or if we just start to forget that we have that possibility within ourselves. That we are as strong and as able to fight as we allow ourselves to be. There are always a million reasons why we shouldn’t do something, go after someone, or change our lives. There’s a stagnant kind of comfort in routine, in keeping things the same, and in staying with what the familiar. Sometimes, too, we are more vulnerable than we’d like to admit, and we maybe feel as if we don’t deserve anything better. Or, maybe, that we really don’t have anything to offer. There’s always the asshole voice that tries to convince us that we’re not good enough or that we can’t do it. Let’s face it: even though we might be totally miserable in a situation, change is terrifying. Change is a wild horse few would dare to ride.
But you know what? That is exactly how we become better – better in all possible ways. I am not always that brave – sometimes, I look at that fictitious horse and think, “Oh, god. No. Not this time. Can’t do it.” Then, I remember my mother. And how she did not believe in can’t or even giving up. And she certainly did not believe in staying inside the lines (even though there were so many times, god knows, where she wished I would). I was sixteen before I ever fell off a horse – and I’d been riding since I was three. And you know what? I landed on my feet in an impossible backflip, holding the horse’s reins in my hand. I was taught to stay on at all costs, no matter how freakin’ stupid I may look. That is a good life lesson too: don’t bail, hang out, and if you do fall, do it with grace.
Today, I am reminded that I’m still that crazy girl who do anything, risk anything, for what she believes in. I’m still the lunatic who dares to try and who always follows through. Who does not give up for the sake of comfort or what might be easier. Who doesn’t get scared off by what might seem completely insane. And if all else fails, I know I’ll land on me feet – and I know I’ll get back on that horse again.
But the truth is, I never gravitated toward simple, and I never, ever will. I want the wildness. I want the crazy. And I know exactly what I dare. Say what you want, there’s nobody and nothing that can ever convince me otherwise. That’s something that my mom certainly taught me: to know myself. And come hell or high water, I know how to be brave – even when it might seem crazy.
Tell me, darlings: do you know how to risk it all for what may seem like an impossible dare?
“nobody can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving. it’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning then this is it.” ~Charles Bukowski
“what matters most is how well you walk through the fire” ~Charles Bukowski
There are conversations I don’t like having. These conversations usually begin with an innocuous seeming question. This is merely a clever disguise for a lightning sand conversation, which then brings the burst of fireswamp fire, and if luck is not with me, the ROUSs.
Things like, “Are you seeing anyone special?” or “What do you do?” or “Why aren’t you married yet?”
These things are the Gateway to Awkward. But the “What do you do?” is a flaming hoop that bounces, and I usually try and jump through it as quickly as possible – the conversational equivalent of, “Chug it! Chug it!” Hold your nose, and swallow the medicine. As fast as you can. There is no sugar for it.
“I’m a writer.” [blank, or possibly curious look] Then I’m usually asked, “What have you published?”
At this point, I try and hide. Or I pretend to choke. Or I mutter. Or I just talk very fast in the (vain) hope no one will understand me – and no follow up questions will be asked. (This rarely works.)
I’ve had a few poems published. A couple of articles. I’ve written two books. None of my short stories have seen the light of day, yet. I’m shopping the second book around, and I’m still vaguely hopeful about it. Because I like the story. I had fun writing it. And I think the characters are interesting.
But will it sell? I don’t know. That is not, however, the current point.
As a writer, I often walk around feeling vaguely fraudulent. Like I have adopted a clever disguise, and I’m playacting. When I tell someone that I haven’t published a novel (yet), I usually get asked, “Why not?” as if agents and publishing contracts are something you order from a catalogue or off of the television.
“I’m in the process of looking for an agent” is often met with, “Weren’t you doing that last year?”
Er, um. Yes? But here’s the thing: I haven’t found one, yet. It can be about as difficult as finding a job in this bloody effin’ mess of an economy – which, by the way, affects everything, from agents to book-buyers.
Being a writer takes time and talent – and I have at least one of those things. (Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be here all week.) It has never once occurred to me to give up, which either means I have tenacity, faith in myself, or I am incredibly stubborn. (Possibly a mixture of all three, but I won’t tell you the proportions for that particular cocktail.)
I am, however, lucky in a lot of respects. I have family and friends who believe in me, even when they suspect I might be crazy. There are people in my corner, so I’m less likely to pull a Hemingway every time I get a rejection notice. (If I can find it, I NEED to share with you the worst rejection I ever received, with the name redacted of course. It was traumatic and childish all at once.)
I’m also lucky that I have people in the writing world that I consider friends. People who have been through the trials, tribulations, and trenches – and have emerged victorious. (No name dropping, but you all know who you are. One of you has purple streaks in her hair. Another has fabulous taste in clothing and shoes. And I owe another a long-deserved drink.) This means if I start to panic, or I’m worried about something, I can ask a question. And I do.
There is a sense of camaraderie. (This is the very first time I’ve been able to spell that word correctly, EVER.) There is a sense of, “I’ve been there. I know what you mean.” I’ve also been at this a while that I know a few things, so I can advise others (minimally, in my opinion, but still).
So, I’ll deal with the awkward silences. They’re par for the course. A right of passage, I suppose. Until I can point to my novel, and go – Look, Ma! Top of the world!
Well, that might not be exactly the words I’d use, but still. Without the awkward silences, how could one appreciate the (future) thunderous applause? Or, in more realistic terms, without the error, I can’t learn. Without the difficulties, I would not appreciate the eventual wins. Let’s face it – if everything came easy, and everyone got exactly what he/she wanted without having to work for it, what fun would that be? It would be boring. And we’d all be very bored.
Plus, every writer I know does not write because it is his/her job. He/she does it because of love. Because it’s like breathing. It’s necessary for life. The same goes for every other artist. A painter paints. A sculptor sculpts. A photographer photographs.
We see what we see. And we want you to see it too.