#goals

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It’s time to take action. I’ve been talking a lot about ideas and things that make sense theoretically, but I think now’s the time we work on making things happen.

I’m a goal-driven person, and always have been. One time, in first grade, we had a “fun” competition in which we were supposed to read and report on as many books as we could. I stayed up all night for a week, reading any book I could get my hands on, fueled by my desire to be the best. Well, I came in second place. As a result, I was the second person that got to pick a special prize from the treasure trove of first grade wonder. I chose an out-of-the-plastic-bag Beanie Baby from McDonald’s. I’m sure there were better prizes (mostly because my teacher was like, “are you sure about that?”), but it didn’t matter. I set a goal, didn’t quite make it, and was rewarded with sweet, french-fry-scented Beanie Baby loot.

The same thing happened in sixth grade band, when we had an assignment to draw as many treble clefs as we could in a week. I wanted to do 1000, so I spent all of my free time drawing the little squiggles on college-ruled paper. I ended up doing 12,060. Yes, twelve-thousand. And sixty. My prize was a “what the fuck you weren’t supposed to take it that seriously” look from my teacher, and, like, 500 chewy fruit candies I got poured into my arms in front of the class. I like having goals. I like doing better than I set out to do. And I maybe kind of like to win. Embarrassingly so.

That being said, this month, I’m back on my bullshit, setting goals and motivated to accomplish things. I wish I could say I’m tackling them like I did in first and sixth grade, but honestly, those goals were achieved in a tornado of anxiety that someone was going to be better than me, and I maybe don’t want to be in that headspace again.

My goals today concern my wellness and growth, and instead of working as fast as a 6/12 year old possibly can, I am taking it slow, micro, and allowing room for/and even welcoming error. I feel like I’ve been thinking about so many things in a strange, cerebral way without actually trying to change or improve, mostly because I so easily forget about things, but also because sometimes goals are overwhelming—especially ones that concern big ideas where you might not even know where to start. So, this time, I’m taking those ideas and distilling them down to small, manageable, physical things I can do every day (erm… every day I remember to do them, that is).

I want to practice compassion.
I think I’m a nice, pleasant person that lacks patience. It’s a tall task to ask myself to empathize with every stranger’s every situation, but it’s more manageable to stop myself from rolling my eyes at the person in front of me at the post office that didn’t put a zip code on their package. I also want to be more compassionate to non-humans. It’s easy to smile at dogs and pet cats only when they want to be pet (but is it, really??), but what’s even more conducive to my goal is to not kill bugs in the apartment, and instead, trap them under a cup and toss them outside (gently).

I want to be more present.
Ah, the goal of every basic girl that has a lotus tattoo and posts pictures in yoga poses on IG. But, I really do seek to be more present for people. I’ve noticed that during most of my conversations, I am thinking about the past, present, future, my dinner, and wondering how long until I can walk away. This leaves me feeling guilty, and wishing I had taken the time to truly connect with that person. Luckily, this can be remedied by listening with intent. I want to slow down, make eye contact, and listen with no ulterior motives or distractions, knowing that the veggie stir fry I want to think about can wait until the conversation is over and the moment has passed.

I want to grow as an artist.
The OC and SF trips really inspired me to experiment more with that I’m drawing and writing and making. It seems that every time I feel inspired, I don’t quite act on it, and end up forgetting I was ever interested in watercolor painting or abstract drawing or doing anything that I don’t usually do. But hey, now that I’m putting it out there, let’s get into it. I am going to draw more. I am going to look at more work by different artists. I am going to read new things. I am going to keep a notebook and pen handy everywhere I go, and not just in my purse shaped like a strawberry.

If you also have goals and have a plan to achieve them, I’d love to hear! Or, like, not, if you’re uncomfortable with sharing. But I think we’re on the right track here. Let’s get going.

24 day crash

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I check Instagram out of habit (or because I’m a masochist, but probably both) and see that people close to me are nominated for awards, getting new jobs, and making money doing things that I do for free. I “like” the posts to feign enthusiasm, then I look at where I am, sitting in my car in between work shifts, using the 48 minutes I have to try to make something happen that will make me feel like less of a failure. Yet, every time I try to catch up, I feel like I just tumble more towards the end of the pack.

I am not used to being behind. Hell, I’m not even used to coming in second place.

I think about high school, when the only thing I was rejected from was Prom Committee, and that’s because I was too busy doing other extracurriculars that didn’t involve choosing what color balloons would go best with a “Night on the Red Carpet” theme. I think about college, when I could stay up until midnight working, and then wake up at 5am to continue where I left off without a hitch—all because I once heard James Franco say that he thought sleep was wasted time. I think about everything I’d been able to accomplish before, and get frustrated that my productivity seems to be slacking in comparison to my peers, and I hyperventilate, thinking that I’m not good enough, smart enough, strong enough.

I wake up. I’ve fallen asleep again, goddamn it. Time to go into work.

These feelings started a while ago. They continued onto the next day, and week, and month, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like I could use a nap. I think about taking it easier, but when I think I might follow through, I see another post on Instagram telling me I have a lot to do to catch up.

Soon, I find that I’ve worked 24 straight days in a row. That is 24 days of work that pays, work that pays less, and work that doesn’t pay at all. On this 24th day, I feel tired, but not much more than usual. I have been out since 5am, fit in a lunch date with a friend, and make it back to my apartment to rest for a few minutes before it’s time to leave again. I toy around with the idea of taking an eight-minute nap, but decide against it because I know I won’t want to wake up.

I leave for work when it’s time, and still feel tired, but this is normal. As I continue on the road, it feels less normal. It is painful to stay awake, but I am sure I can will myself through it. I think, “if I can just make it halfway, I’ll be good to go.” I think, “I am physically and mentally weak if I pull over.” I think, “Maybe I shouldn’t be listening to NPR right now.”

I can no longer tell if the fact that I cannot hold my eyes open is normal or not. On the one hand, it makes sense that I’m tired, seeing as I’ve had a long day. On the other, it doesn’t make any fucking sense because I am an adult—not a child who needs to be put down for a nap every day, yet here I am: a 25 year old who cannot deal with the fact that she is falling behind in life, lacks an apartment with the appropriate amount of space to shelter a cat, and is about to lose her health insurance.

CRASH.

I wake up and I’ve hit the cement divider on Crenshaw Boulevard. I put it in park, turn on my hazards, and sit. My left ear is ringing. I smell smoke from the side airbags that deployed. My glasses are surprisingly still on my face, despite falling off like clockwork whenever I look down, or jog, or watch a movie. Of course those fuckers stayed on this time.

I call my boss to tell her I can’t make it to work. She gets my shifts covered, and I don’t feel relieved as much as I wish I hadn’t lost out on at least $50.

I call my boyfriend and tell him I fell asleep. I start to cry because I feel like garbage. Garbage that couldn’t drive three more fucking minutes to get to her workplace without hitting a goddamn cement slab. He tells me he’s on his way to come get me.

I call my mom and tell her what happened. She asks if I’m okay, and I say, yes, like it doesn’t matter. I am stupid and tired and feel even more stupid and tired as I think about what just happened. She keeps telling me she’s glad I’m okay, and I want to tell her I don’t care that I am. But I don’t because that’s probably not what she wants to hear after her daughter just collided with a cement block at who-knows-what speed.

A car stops behind me—it’s an old Lincoln, and I’m not going to guess what year because that’s not my thing. I don’t even know it’s a Lincoln, really, until the guy who’s driving it tells me. His name is Steve, and he’s from Louisiana, visiting his mother in the area. He’s pretty old, so I start to wonder how old his mother is. He asks what happened. I get out of the car to tell him, seeing the damage for the first time. It’s not nearly as bad as it feels, but I still break down and cry more out of frustration that after all of this, THAT was the damage.

He puts out flares to direct traffic away from me as I open my trunk and hood because apparently, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you fall asleep and veer onto the shoulder, into a five-foot-tall wall. I then sit inside the car, and he tells me about the flares—he had just gotten them today from a friend who found them in his garage. They are from 1971, which he finds hilarious. I don’t know if that’s old in flare years, but I laugh along. I hope he doesn’t tell me “everything happens for a reason.”

He recites the AAA number off the top of his head because he doesn’t have a smart phone. We get a tow truck out, and he waits with me, entertaining me with car facts and instructions on how to put flares out. I can tell he’s trying to keep me distracted, which would usually bother me, but I’m too tired to be difficult at this point.

I look at the clock and think, “maybe if this is done fast enough, I can make that second shift and not be out an extra $25.” Then I think this is maybe what got me here in the first place, so maybe I should just call it a day.

Everyone texts me, saying they’re glad I’m okay, but all I kind of just want to die, tbh. I tell them I’m fine, though, out of courtesy. Little do I know that I’m about to be given a rental car with no power locking doors or electric windows.