Embrace It, Appreciate It, Laugh About It

I will be home in about eight hours. I should have been home about three hours ago. Instead here I am:

image.jpeg

I’m in a little lounge oddly grateful that I started buying six foot charging cables last year because my phone is in dire need of some juice. It, like me, has been up since 7:30 this morning EST. It has done a much better job adjusting to the time difference than I have. Celine dion is playing by the way. That seems oddly appropriate mainly cause I’m in Vegas.

I am writing this on my phone, by the way, so I apologize for the higher occurrence of typos and grammatical errors in this post.

Today was a huge lesson in attitude for me. By the time I got on the plane in Boston almost two hours late, I was totally shot and ready to give up on the day. I was ready to call it for the negative and face the fact that I would likely be alone in Atlanta for at least an additional 24 hours bouncing from wait list to wait list.

Honestly, every single representative I worked with was so nice. I’m lovingly carrying an electric guitar for the boy. He flew spirit and I don’t wanna get into how much they suck, but let’s just say taking this with him would have pretty much cost the price of his ticket. The case led to many conversations, only a few of which ended when my converser found out the guitar wasn’t mine and I wasn’t some edgy hot chick who plays an electric guitar. It also allowed me to preboard in Boston in a last ditch effort to not miss my connection to Portland in Atlanta.

As I waited to board I was on the verge of tears. I looked up and saw a woman, red faced and scrunchy and felt so guilty. I imagined she was missing something much more serious than her first New Year’s Eve with her new boo. We were all flustered. The gate agent, the only one helping anyone by the way, just needed to put in his damn code so we could start boarding. We all put the pressure of making our connections on him. But I think we all knew it was out of his hands. None of us cracked. At least not before I boarded.

When I got aboard I awkwardly made my way to my row (I got much better at carrying it when I was getting off the plane) and put the guitar up in the empty overhead bin. When the flight attendant helped me, my attempt at optimism finally sounded desperate to me and when I sat down I cried for the first time. I only cried for about a minute. But hat cry had me determined to shut out the world in anger and bitterness for the rest of the day.

Luckily, I ended up sitting in a row with David and Ken. I’m always weird about talking on planes. As most of you know (and since I have a blog) I rather enjoy talking about myself and my journey and hearing others’ stories. But I can never bring myself to talk to others. So whenever someone sits down next to my on a flight my face goes through some quicks spastic changes from friendly to an air of aloofness to let my fellow passenger know that while I’m up for a chat, I by no means need to talk to him/her. I can survive just as well without human interaction (I say this with a hint of desperation people)! Well turned out David was the chatty type. One of the ones whose family always gives him a hard time for it. We talked about everything. Starting from the guitar of course and making no logical progression to jobs, passions, philosophy, religion, meditation, business models, and my potentially getting a PhD. We awkwardly exchanged names after sharing our entire life stories.

Now Benny and the Jets is playing and I don’t think a song could make me happier at this moment!

Anyway, when our talk finally came to some kind of a natural ends when we started our initial descent into Atlanta and David had to use the facilities, he offered me to take his middle seat. I had been by the window, and he either really desperately wanted a window seat for the landing or else he was just being kind letting me be closer to the aisle. When I boarded the plane I had about a fifteen minute connection. I knew we took off late. But I figured I’d give it my all. Whenever something goes wrong, it’s important for my that I know I did everything in my power to try to make it to right.

Well that’s when I met Kevin. Kevin is a pilot for Delta. I’m a little sad to say he flies mostly Airbuses. But I won’t hold it against him. He’s a perfectly good guy and I get the sense it’s not exactly up to him what he flies. Anyway, Kevin was coming back from a trip to Europe with his wife and two sons. We chatted a bit about our crazy travel days. He too was supposed to get rerouted. Initially he was supposed to fly Boston to Cincinnati to Atlanta to Nashville. Somehow someone caught on to how crazy that was and his family made it on to the Boston to Atlanta flight at least cutting one leg off his crazy trip.

The music choices in this airport are incredible. Now it’s Frank Sinatra. Thank you, Vegas!

Anyway, turned out Kevin and his familia had a forty minute connection in Atlanta, one he was much more likely to make, but for some reason he gave me his aisle seat. He told me that since my flight was the last one out to Portland that night they were likely to hold it for me. Even though this didn’t end up being the case, I was still thankful that he gave me a reason to stay optimistic.

When I made it to the gate, the screen already read Austin. I was about ten minutes later than their final take off time. I was defeated again. The gate agent sent me to the help kiosk area where the line was long and half the people were led to a phone anyway. I called the help desk and got connected with a really awesome guy who was very patient with me. I told him “I missed my connection in Atlanta, please get my out of here tonight, preferably in a westerly direction.” He told me there were no more availabilities to Portland, Seattle, or San Francisco tonight. I started to feel a small hairline fracture form. I told him I’d go anywhere, Phoenix, Vegas, Detroit, Minneapolis. My mom taught my once it was best to keep moving. And that, along with knowing the flights from Atlanta to Portland the next day we’re all sold out, kept me pushing. But as he said no and no and no the fracture grew and I started crying again. It only lasted about a minute. Mainly because he told me he got me on a flight to Las Vegas in just a couple of hours. I thanked him profusely. It was the only time today I felt guilty for being pushy. But I was desperate to not get stuck in Atlanta.

Once we hung up I quickly did a kayak search and found a flight from Vegas to Portland in the morning that apparently still had seats. It wasn’t even outrageously expensive. I bought it and then called delta back to see if they could actually cover the cost. They said they would. I still need to call Alaska to get reimbursed. But I don’t care if I don’t. I’m just happy I will be home in the morning.

As I called delta yet again I made my way to chik-fil-a. I figured I might as well take advantage of being in the south for dinner. When I made it to the counter to order delta finally picked up. I asked if he could hold for a minute. That’s right everyone, I put an agent on hold. He was super nice though. As was the lady taking my order while I was multi-tasking. They were nice because I was nice. It’s amazing to me how many times people complain about customer service, but don’t consider the customer in the equation. Kindness begets kindness people. Plus everything that happened today was none of these people’s faults. And I’m sure they were getting enough shit from other people.

Staying positive and kind and open minded got me so so far today. I’ll be on my next flight in five hours! And the most important piece of advice today came from Kevin. I told him that if I miss my flight in Portland I was gonna try to make my way west and potentially drive part of the way home. He told me that whatever happened I should enjoy the adventure. That’s exactly what this year has been for me. Instead of living in a grey life, just making motions to get by, I took an active role and embraced the adventure. I have no idea where I will be next year, but for once, that lack of knowing has me excited rather than anxious!

Advertisements

Don’t Act Out of Fear

I’ve been wanting to touch on this topic for a while. It’s one that has been with me for a while, but one that has really played a big role this year. It came up during my breakdown, during my move, with my psychiatrist, friends, boyfriend, and family. It’s even a central theme in one of my recent favorite movies, Frozen.

This movie, among other things, explores the negative results of acting out of fear. This comes up twice. First, Pabbie the Troll King tells Elsa and her parents that “Fear would be her enemy.” Later, when we see the trolls again and they sing a brilliant song for Anna and Kristoff, they say “People make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed.” As the movie progresses, it becomes pretty clear (at least for me. I mean I could be wrong. I’ve realized that somehow I’m bad at reading between the lines. Maybe I totally misunderstood this movie, but this is what I see) that it’s Elsa’s fear, moreso than other peoples’ fear of her, that is her enemy. Becaus as the trolls sang, choices made from a place of fear are not good ones.

In her fear, Elsa isolates herself not only from the outsiders but also from her own family. This isolation only makes her more suspicious and fearful, a main driving force in the plot of the movie.

When I had already been seeing my psychiatrist for several weeks, we spoke about how I was scared and worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a job thus making my crazy decision to leave my job and return home a complete and total failure. She told me that the worst thing I could be doing was approaching this conundrum from a place of fear. She told me that letting fear consume me was not a solution.

This reminded me of something. Something that I mentioned in the first post ever done on this blog and was the source of its initial beginnings years ago. When I visited my brother once, years ago, he told me he was concerned that I was letting my fears and anxieties hold me back from fully embracing my life. For many reasons, this really stuck with me. Since then, I was very aware of things that inspired fear in me, and in recognizing this and remembering my brother, I would push myself to do the things that I feared. These things include (and are probably limited to, who knows) riding a ski lift for the first time in twelve years (twelve years in which I developed a fear of heights), going on a hike along a narrow path with two harrowing falls on either side (I totes chickened out, but at least I gave it a shot), and jumping off the porch and into the river. However, much as this helped me face those physical fears that I faced, it didn’t cross my mind earlier this year when I found myself single, depressed, and catatonic, and too scared to talk to anyone about it.

I was worried my friends would mock me. Scared that my parents would be disappointed with me. Disappointed at myself that I had already failed at adulthood just a few years after graduation.

I stopped going to work. I would only see people so they wouldn’t think that something was wrong. And when I did see them, I put on a mask so everyone thought everything was alright. I didn’t even tell my therapist at the time the whole truth. And in this isolation, much like Elsa, I convinced myself that I was right about everyone. I was so scared of failing, and of any judgement that might ensue, that I just pretended that life was ok while I sank deeper and deeper into my depression. I didn’t realize that most of this judgement was stemming from me and not from outside.

One of the many quotes on my phone, quotes I turn back to when I need an extra push or some inspiration, says “As we are liberated from our own fear, or presence automatically liberates others.” I witnessed this first hand. When I finally broke down and told my family and therapist what was going on. I was met with great frustration. Not because either party saw me as a failure, but because they both wished that I had been honest with them sooner. As we formulated the plan that lead me to where I am today, I started telling my friends what was going on. Amazingly, many of them shared with me that they shared my struggle. People started talking to me about their own lack of satisfaction with their jobs. About wanting to move away from where they were. One guy even told me that he almost packed his stuff and moved back home in the midst of the awful winter we were having. Some people even told me I was brave and inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, some people judged me and made jokes at my expense. I’m not sure if it was because they thought I was weak, or they were going through their own issues, but it doesn’t matter. So many people were supportive that it still moves me just thinking about it.

I regret none of what happened. I doubt I’d be where I am today if it happened any other way. But sometimes I wish I’d had more faith in my friends and family earlier on.So I learn from it. I am working on this. I am working on trusting people, trusting my choices and not being constantly scared of failure or of judgement. That’s part of the rationale behind this blog. In sharing some of my greatest struggles both old and new, I am trying hard not to repeat past mistakes.

I’m working really hard on believing that good will happen rather than expecting the worst. I’m working on living my life from a place of hope rather than fear. And in sharing this with you, readers, and preaching about it to my friends, and lecturing my mom endlessly about how she needs to stop worrying so much, I’m mostly just repeating the same message to myself. Hopefully, eventually my brain will listen! So I challenge you all to go out there and do something that scares you! It doesn’t have to be huge, sometimes the smallest day-to-day things are the scariest because they are the most ingrained in us!

 

Weekly Reflection 12.25: On Friendship

As I write this, Milo is blowing bubbles in his water bowl the way little kids do in the pool when they first learn to swim. I love this dog! He reminds me of the importance of blowing bubbles in my drink, which I will do next time I have a straw in my chocolate milk!

This week somewhere I read that if a friendship lasts seven years, psychologists say it’ll last forever (and since the internet is always right…). This quote immediately made me start calculating some of my best and longest friendships. I have a few going strong that are only a couple weeks old, I have another that is a solid five, several at six, and I’m proud to say that I have two strong friendships that are now a decade old. Though there may be more friendships from high school and junior high that may be strong, I have not been in touch with any of these friends as much as I have been in touch with these two girls. That being said, I feel that if I were to run into a handful of these girls somewhere and we started chatting, it’d be like good old times. So who knows! Maybe I have even more of these strong friendships than I’ve realized! So oh high school friends, if you’re reading this, don’t hate me! I’d love to see you sometime and catch up! And thanks for reading!

Anywho…growing up, I moved around A LOT. With all this moving, I learned at a very young age what it was like to lose connections with close friends. The first round of loss was after two years in the states. At this point we still thought we’d be going back to our house in Jerusalem in a year. But my parents, knowing that I would pick Hebrew back up quickly once I was immersed in it, focused little on my Hebrew skills in those first few years. As such, eventually I couldn’t communicate with my Israeli friends, and they could not communicate with me. I lost some ofmy closest friends at the young age of nine.

As we continued moving, I continued losing friends slowly. Every time I would leave we would promise each other we would stay in touch. But such a thing is a lot of responsibility for someone so young. And eventually these great friendships crumbled.

Then came Massachusetts. The first place where I saw that friendships could fail even without an unimagined move. At first this was hard for me to accept. I think I always gladly explained away my failed friendships with the moves. But now that I didn’t have moves to fall back on, I was suddenly unsure what to do. I was sure that I was somehow a failure. That I was not a good friend.

Well now that I have managed to hold on to some friendships for a solid amount of time, I consider myself somewhat of an expert (just kidding guys, it actually says in my notebook “I can’t say I’m an expert of friendship” I just like to break from my own script sometimes). That being said, I’d like to share with you some of the cool things I’ve observed with these decade old friendships and others that I suspect will make the seven year mark.

  1. Both parties have to be invested. I know this may seem obvious, but I can’t say how many times I thought I could single-handedly keep a friendship going. Eventually, though, when one realizes they are not a priority for the other person, the friendship generally crumbles. This is sad, but inevitable, and allows  you to expend energy on those friendship that are healthy and mutually beneficial.
  2. A friendship must continue developing, growing, and changing or it will die. Now, just to be clear, it is our responsibility to push friendships forward, it won’t just happen on its own. With pretty much all of these friendships, I can point to this point at which we crossed a line and could never turn back. This year it happened twice. I was having a conversation with a friend, we bridged a new topic, both acknowledged that our friendship had entered new territory, and continued happily chatting away.
  3. There is no formula for a successful friendship. No two friendships are alike. For example, my relationship with these two friends from high school, differ from one another. I’m sure their relationship with each other is also different from each of their relationships with me. I have some friends that I see in person at least once a year and some that I’ve only seen via skype in years.
  4. You have to share values on some level. This doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything. In fact I hope you don’t. That would make for some boring-ass friendships. But on some level there has to be an agreement, otherwise I’m not sure it can last!
  5. Appreciation is key. Make it clear to these friends how much their friendships mean to you. Do it however you want. It doesn’t have to be kitchy or cheesy, just make sure they understand.

So that’s it! Do you find these to be true for your closest friendships? I hope this holiday season you look around you and realize how lucky you are. I think the thing with friendships and all relationships outside the family, include some level of luck. I mean think how you met some of these people in the first place. How random was that?!

Merry Christmas!