I'm 29 years old and unemployed. (Thought I'd lead with my most compelling qualities.) My contract ended March 30 and I haven't yet found "anything to do" in the traditional sense. That is to say: I haven't found anything to do in exchange for money which is what most everyone implies when they ask: What are you going to do next?
I should note: most people ask in the most caring way. Still, I'm hard pressed to answer honestly because I don't like making anyone uncomfortable. And nothing makes people uncomfortable like good, old-fashioned uncertainty.
[Aside: To particularly anxious askers I've actually considered saying: "I'm going to NYU law school in the fall." It's a blatant lie but I know the well-worn path would make them feel better. It wouldn't make me feel better. Going to law school sounds about as appealing as getting a Brazilian wax everyday for three years but every time feels like your first time.**
**The first time I got a Brazilian I texted my friend: "Holy shit that hurt!!" and she was all empathetically: "WTF did you expect?" I don't get Brazilians anymore because I take issue with a culture that wants men to be men and women to be girls. Also, they hurt.
Anyway! First-ever newsletter and I indirectly mentioned pubic hair (sorry!) but also: WTF did you expect? ;)]
Back to uncertainty: I think this ever-lurking fear of the unknown is perhaps related to the fear of things we do know but stuff away into the dark crevices of ourselves. The taboo topics, the things we all have and all feel but, yet, somehow, cannot discuss. The things we want to delete! delete! delete! rather than confront. (My discursive mention of Brazilians now seems strangely metaphoric.)
Listening to Isabel Wilkerson speak on reckoning in this On Being podcast episode was an epiphany moment for me. She said:
"Whatever you're ignoring is only going to get worse. Whatever you're ignoring will be there to be reckoned with until you reckon with it."
Take a moment to let that settle. I believe we will eventually have to reckon with everything we fear on both a macro level (see: slavery and the lasting impacts of systemic racism) and the micro level (see: that thing you never even told your therapist).
Well, to clarify, we'll need to reckon in order to fully heal. (Plenty of people go lifetimes without healing, so reckoning, like healing, is optional.)
All that to provide you with my honest answer to: What are you going to do next?
I am healing. In this phase, I consider it healing through reckoning. Specifically, I am reckoning with that thing I never even told my therapist. Also, everything else. I want to examine all the stories and beliefs I've collected over my 29 years to see if they hold up. In many cases, I want to transmute self-limiting beliefs into empowering ones.
At the risk of sounding cheesy or over-ambitious or both: I aim to open every unopened door within my heart.
In Melissa Febos's stunning memoir, Abandon Me, she wrote:
"The unseen parts of us have the most gravity. They repel and compel us."
A quote like that makes me long to illuminate the dark places. As does the Rumi quote of the week:
"You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens."
But the ever-looming question is always: How? Right now, for me, it's about energetically shifting things. I'm doing daily meditation, reading, journaling, forgiveness work, self-love.
And writing. I decided to write this weekly letter first and foremost for myself, to document this transition in an "official" way. If you'd like to read along, I'd be honored.
with Love and with Light,
p.s. If Isabel Wilkerson's name sounds familiar, she's the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns. I haven't read it yet, but it's on my list.
p.p.s. Trevor Hall has a beautiful song called You Can't Rush Your Healing which I've been listening to when I get anxious about the "timelines" of my healing (i.e. often). Here are my favorite lines, which encapsulate my meditation experience so insanely well I had to share:
"Confusion clouds the heart, but it also points the way.
Quiet down the mind, the more the song will play."
This letter was sent on April 9, 2018.