Beginnings follow endings. And endings must precede beginnings.
Yesterday I was 24 – today I became a quarter of a century old. Yesterday we completed the moving in to our new house, a gorgeous old farmhouse – today we held a small party to celebrate a new year. A week ago I cried in heartbreak and guilt-ridden anguish — today I try to be a better person. I don’t know why we humans set so much store by symmetry and time keeping, but I’ll date these three new beginnings by this birthday.
I spent last week overwhelmed with anguish and self-hatred. Two people got me through it: Cait, my roommate, and my mother. Cait has been my rock these last two years. We’ve weathered some tough patches, we’ve faced some internal problems, but we’ve gotten through them. And we got through last week together, both of us grieving and hurting but turning to each other for support. She reminded me, even when I didn’t want to believe it, that I wasn’t a bad person. And then we talked. We talked and talked and talked about all these questions that have arisen. Friendship is a beautiful thing.
My mother…we disagree on my religious choices and my life choices, but she is a strong woman (y0u would have to be, to raise six children). As I sobbed into the phone, she told me that there was nothing I could do to fix my mistake. All I could do going forward was to learn everything I could from that mistake and to never repeat it. I had to focus on the future. I had to look at this whole thing as a wake up call to become a better person. As for comfort…she told me to count my blessings even when I could only focus on the negative: remember the things that are going right, no matter how little.
If we are our own damnation, than the people around us are our salvation. (My word choice there is clearly influenced by my Pentecostal upbringing). I grew up in a large family, and I was part of a very tight, very exclusive church. Although I have always been the kind of person who has only between two and four close friends at most, I crave to be part of a community. Now, after grad school, after most of our friends have moved away to their jobs, Cait and I are seeking to build a new community because of its importance to us.
Over the summer, we hosted a weekly brunch, and we invited both close friends and casual acquaintances to these events. The brunches began as an opportunity for us to experiment in the kitchen, but then we realized that we hosted these meals because we sought inspiration, friendship, support, community, and knowledge from these individuals. We needed to reach out beyond ourselves and to discover new worlds, and each person that came brought with them a unique background, a unique culture and history, and a unique set of ideas.
During the spring, I was going through a rough patch, and I reached out through Facebook to my closest friends and family. I wrote a very honest note about what I was going through (ensuring that only certain ppl saw it), and the support and responses that I got back gave me the motivation to keep going and to find different ways of looking at/handling my problems. And they kept reaching out to me long afterwards, giving me encouragement in what was the roughest patch of my life. (Being an adult is hard, btw.)
Community is the source of inspiration and motivation. Friends keep us going. No one is able to change themselves based solely on their own ideas and will. We need help, and when we reach out, the people who care will respond.
I am blessed by the people I know, the people who care enough to reach out to me on this day and to celebrate my life when I am so low that I don’t think my life is worthy of celebration.