Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Holding It All

Hello, Invisible Audience,

A very happy new year to you. May 2020 bring you more of your favorite things.

I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because they make me feel like I’m supposed to change too many things about myself all at once and I’m a failure if I can’t make them stick. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve made a lot of really important changes in my life – but as I’ve said before, they tend to come in small increments, not larger resolutions that require big changes in a short period of time.

Anyway, there’s something I’ve been thinking about for several months now that could possibly count as a resolution, although maybe it’s more of a change in mindset: I want to work on being able to hold it all.

Just to clarify, I did not just misspell having it all. As far as I’m concerned, that phrase and what it entails carries far more baggage than joy. When I think about what having it all means to me, I think about people who work their tails off, party their asses off, can buy everything they want and have zero time to actually enjoy all they have. I am not saying that’s what your life is like if you think you have it all, Invisible Audience. I am simply saying that those words strung together inflict misery on my system in a way that I don’t want to carry with me.

No, holding it all is a concept that’s been a long time coming for me. It has to do with actively letting go of black and white thinking and coming to grips with the fact that the world does not work in absolutes. 

This is a hard one for me. A part of me wants to think that someday I will be all happy with no sad; that I will love myself fully without wishing parts of myself were different. Part of me wants to think I will fall madly in love with someone who always says the right thing, and I will stumble upon a job that never feels like a slog to get up for. And as far as we’re talking about fairy tales, I’d like all this to happen on a warm tropical island with an endless supply of margaritas and mangoes. 

Well, shit, Invisible Audience. I hope I’m not crushing your dreams if I tell you that I don’t think that world exists. Instead, I have slowly been realizing how much wishing for that dream has been negatively affecting my reality. I have learned that, if I want relationships without conflict, that means I will have less relationships. I have discovered that even jobs and tasks I love get tedious, and that exhaustion and illness can make any great thing feel awful. I have learned that expecting to find equilibrium means that I am setting myself up for failure, because I can’t be satisfied with the days that I don’t feel steady, even if they turned out well. 

For me, holding it all means owning that I can have several conflicting feelings at once, and that doesn’t mean they cancel each other out. I can think my job is worthwhile and also wish I didn’t have to do it sometimes. I can dearly love someone and not agree with their life choices or politics. I can be doing my very best, and still always find ways to improve, but that doesn’t mean my best attempt was meaningless.

Maybe this all sounds logical. Maybe you figured this out a long time ago, Invisible Audience. But the shades of gray of this chaotic, messy beautiful existence have always felt absolutely mystifying to me. I’ve spent a lot of time – and a lot of cognitive dissonance – trying to fit a square peg (either/or thinking) into a round hole (reality.) 

So, does that count as a resolution? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe resolutions feel a bit too black and white these days, and I’m looking to give myself a little more grace in the process than a resolution seems to encompass. Instead, I think my goal for this year is to embrace more of all those seemingly contradictory things that float through my day-to-day life: the rainbows on snowy days; the anger that rides on the tail of a big laugh; and the joy that sometimes comes coupled with fear.

Love and holding it all kisses,