gift of failure

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I’m gonna be real here. It’s been a rough first quarter of the year, y’all. I was waiting to hear back from three separate things, just to get three separate rejections. Each “no” that came in gave me hope that maybe the next one would be a “yes”. It did not happen, LOL. I was sad (also LOL). But what made me less sad was thinking about how far I’ve come since just one year ago. This time, I was able to step back and say, “That sucks. Okay, next.”

A year ago, this would have crushed me. I know, because it did. And I wrote a zine about it. It seemed like my life was falling apart as others’ were starting to pick up. I cried. I wanted to hide in a dark corner until every negative feeling left my body and sank into the ground. I thought about getting a 9 to 5! Holy shit.

I became tough on myself, vowing to work hard to achieve my goals. I pushed myself to get better. I cut out breaks. I drank a lot of coffee. (Sidenote: one time, I read that James Franco didn’t like to sleep because it was just wasting time, so I did the same, and lasted for like three days before I fell asleep for 14 hours straight) It did not work, and also, I totaled my car.

So, I tried a different approach. Thus, began my mindfulness journey. I meditated daily. I took walks on the beach even though I hate the sand. I did things for fun in between work. I asked the universe for help. Yeah, like The Secret. I manifested that shit, y’all.

Slowly, I began to see change. I began to love my journey, and appreciate that others’ journeys are different than mine. When someone had good news, it wasn’t crushing anymore. Did it suck? Yes, tbh, but it didn’t send me into a depression spiral of “why wasn’t that me I’m a loser!!!” I began to trust myself, and trust the process more. I was able to focus on my goals and my adventure, and how much I was learning and growing.

And I did grow. I became a better writer and illustrator and was… happy?? And my work reflected it.

I wrote a script that was a finalist in multiple competitions. I wrote and illustrated four zines. I went to lunch and coffee and connected with people in my field even when I really didn’t want to leave the apartment. And every time I did something small, I noticed I’d get little rewards. It’s possible I’m reading too much into it, and there’s actually no causality between taking a meeting, and then immediately getting an email saying my zine fest rejection actually turned into an acceptance. But, by treating these as gifts from the universe—gifts I received because I’m taking steps forward and learning—it makes me that much more aware of the li’l good things as I continue to stumble my way around.

Yeah, rejection still sucks, but it doesn’t have to suck that much. We learn, we grow, we move on. Even if it’s after some tears and a playlist full of of sad music. We’ll be okay.

The Time I Became a Pilates Hermit

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These past few weeks, I’ve pretty much taken shelter at my favorite fitness studio. I’ve doubled the amount of torture I endure per week, and survive off Quest bars in between classes so I don’t get nauseous and puke during bicep work.

Since then, I’ve begun to notice some changes–some in my abs and arms and back and butt, but mostly in my lifestyle. Some of these things were apparent before, but have become glaringly, frighteningly more noticeable as I’ve made the transition from regular human to Megaformer Pilates Hermit Human. They are as follows:

1. Scheduling

I know I shouldn’t be picky when it comes to finding jobs that allow me to buy food and pay for enough gas to keep that little light off for longer than a week and basically not die. However, I can’t seem to make myself “available” for work during times when I know I could be spending money on pilates classes instead of making money to pay for said classes.

I’ve used every excuse in the book– I have to take my unspecified family members to appointments every Wednesday and Friday morning, I have class at an undisclosed college, I turn into a werewolf– to get out of scooping ice cream or serving cupcakes during my regularly scheduled workouts.

2. Laundry

Full disclosure: I don’t like doing laundry. It costs at least $2 in quarters each time, plus, do I really have to wash this shirt I wore for a total of two hours, sitting in an air conditioned office? Because of this, I’ve been known wear a shirt two to three (four? ten?) times before washing it. When you calculate the math stuff, this comes out to doing laundry about every six weeks.

I can’t get away with this anymore.

If you work out, you sweat. When you sweat you smell. And if you sweat enough, some of that stank is transferred to your clothes, making them unwearable until you douse them in Tide and dry them with a bunch of dryer sheets for good measure. This way, you’ll run out of clothes in half the time as before, and be forced to search in your car and under the couch cushions for spare change for the laundry room, all for the sake of smelling nice.

3. Pants

Before this, I despised yoga pants. Mostly because I would see girls wearing them to morning, afternoon, and evening classes when they obviously weren’t going to work out or hadn’t come from a workout and were just treating them as “fashion.” I saw no value in willingly wearing something that required a certain type of underwear to be worn underneath. Thus, my hatred was born.

Ironically, I am now a yoga pants convert. I constantly find myself scrolling through Forever 21’s sale category when I hide in the bathroom at work to look for $10 graphic athletic leggings. As soon as I walk into Marshalls or Target, I make a bee-line for that magical section of stretchy, colorful pants that hold everything in. When I open my drawers and see them full of pants I already own, my first reaction is, “These would look amazing in pink, teal, weird leaf print, and abstract geometrical purple.”

Plus, I didn’t even know “Cute pants!” was, like, a compliment. So I’ve now upped my make-people-feel-good game without even trying. Boom.

4.  Foreign Language

I took French for three years in high school, and cannot saying anything more than “Mon ami!” or “Je m’appelle Bitchface.” In college, I took the French language placement test for fun and scored a legit “0.” I thought this meant my brain just wasn’t wired for learning a new language and being worldly, and that I was destined to never leave this country and to die from a broken heart while staring at a picture of the Eiffel Tower.

Turns out, I learned a new language without even realizing it. I’ve said things like, “You’re so strong. You were on five yellows on the back for arms today!” without even realizing how insane this must sound to everyone else. I constantly have talks with Bee about how “three yellows is too light, but four is too much, so I’m facing a major dilemma” over dinner like we’re discussing politics or work or saving the world. When I try to carry all my groceries into the apartment in one trip, I motivate myself by repeating, “It’s less than a blue. It’s less than a blue,” as I try to reach for my keys and not fall or drop the produce into a puddle.

I also just realized how little sense this must make to most people, so if you’re lost, just forget everything I said and go back to thinking I’m a decent person who doesn’t talk about colorful slinkys.

5. Social Life

I don’t have much of a social life, tbh. Most of my interaction with people consists of me texting “We should totally hang out!” and never getting around to it, or smiling and doing that friendly head nod to people on the sidewalk as they walk their dogs and I regret not filling in my eyebrows before leaving the apartment. Sometimes I choose to go to the cashier instead of the self-checkout because I’m a masochist, but that’s rare.

The bulk of my social interaction, by far, is with the teachers and clients at the studio. Sure the instructors try to kill us during class, but as soon as that 45-65 minutes is up, it’s like they never tried to destroy our abs in the first place, and we’re all chill again. I assume this is what it’s like being friends with the nicest gang of serial killers in the world.

Without them, the people in class would just be people whom we sweat next to for a couple hours a week. But I’ve really learned that nothing brings a bunch of strangers together more than the struggle to survive. We talk about how we aren’t ready for class before it begins, and by the end, we’re talking about how we’re “actually dead,” but also about how we’re going to see each other tomorrow to do it all over again. Camaraderie at its finest.