You know how in Eat Pray Love, the sage memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert summarizes entire cities and personalities into one singular word? New York City is predictably assigned Achieve, Stockholm receives Conform, and the word Attraversiamo, which means “let’s cross over” in Italiano, is eventually assigned to Gilbert herself.
Now there is even a Facebook group to one-word devotees, where the city Provo, UT gets Marry, and Jacksonville, FL is stuck with Ridiculous. But there’s no need to stop at cities and people. Much can be acutely summarized in one word – your dinner meal, a presidency, a TV show – and now, as the year comes to a close, the last 365 days.
Airports are particularly filthy places, no matter who you are. No matter what seat you’re in on the plane, everyone has to sit on the same toilet seats in the airport. Or hover, if you’re smart.
I’m not a germaphobe by any means, at least not yet, but airports get to me in a way that other public transportation doesn’t. I’m always looking to count on the goodness of my fellow travelers; but it’s usually about a fifty-fifty split as to who surprises me, for better or for worse.
One of the ideas that I put out there at the beginning of the year was that I wanted to travel more, and indeed, I have taken more trips in the last year than I probably have in my life.
We are told to show streaks of our soul, to be original. To show irreverence. And especially, place your mark on the world. Eschew tradition. And while you should be yourself, you should also, somewhere along the line – if you’re lucky, between high school and turning thirty – find that originality is only the beginning.
Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright is known for pioneering one of the most important movements in architecture. His mastery of the compression and exaltation of space has little to do with inspiring awe (although that it does), and much more to do with a space that is living.
Florida at Christmastime isn’t particularly warm, but it’s near tropical for Wisconsinites (of which I am finally one), so it is not the light breeze that causes my arms to hover close to my core while sitting at the pool. In fact, it is something that exists entirely in my head, and I have to consciously and decidedly lift my elbows and hands away from my hips and stomach towards the armrests so as to appear confident.
The right to be a woman, in the finest sense, relies on such confidence.
My two-piece bathing suit beguiles a certain flirtatious composure (it’s got polka dots), and at 5’8” (okay, 5’7” and a half) and 130 lbs, I wear it well.
For the past eight or nine months, I’ve created a bubble around me of people I trust, making sweeping efforts to withdraw from drama. Through this process, I learned; the bubble always pops.
Here’s what that’s like for me: Imagine, you’re a crumb and you fall onto the sidewalk and an ant discovers you. His tiny ant friends are soon alerted and before you know it, you’re swarmed! A disgusting black blanket moves furtively and anxiously to completely and methodically chew through your every last morsel. The very thought makes me sick.
And more than anything, this is what it’s like when things are outside my locus of control.
Note: This was originally a guest post for Sam’s Appreciation Revolution. You should check it out.
I’m an extremely lucky person. Really. Sometimes I can’t even believe how lucky I am. I have the best mother, best job, best boyfriend, best condo, best everything.
And yet still, I want. I still have that hunger for more. Selfishly, I am often found in dark corners brooding over the infallibility of life, the unfairness, the annoyances, and over that stupid guy who cut me off this morning in the white Dodge Ram with a ladder strapped to the top and a license plate forever seared in my memory.
My adrenaline starts to pump and the anticipation in my stomach rises so quickly that a little laughter escapes. But at 10:03 pm on Monday, the 22nd this is a bad time to laugh.
I yell to my boss Mark, “Tech Crunch just published!”
“What?” he yells back.
I run into his office, “Tech Crunch just published their post!” The rest of the sentence, that they published an hour early, an hour before they were supposed to, an hour before the embargo lifted and we were going to launch the site doesn’t need to be said. Hundreds of people are already on the site.
“What did you do today?”
I cried like a druggie in rehab pleading with God and my dead father to help me. Also, I slept. Tried to sleep. To ignore. To escape. Between sleeping and crying, I tried to be normal.
“Nothing much, I ran some errands,” I replied on a Saturday night out at the bar, trying to be normal. Going out with friends for the first time in a long time. Friends that were good enough to forget that I ignored them for the past eight months. Because that’s what happens when I’m in a relationship.
Everyone likes me better when I’m single.
I like motivational talks. Like this one from Gary Vaynerchuk. I get all excited and pumped and ready to work.
Then I get stuck. Interminably stuck. Because I’m really excited and pumped to work, but for what? I’m a lucky person, but I wonder is this it? Really? Because I thought there might be more.
Marcus Buckingham of the Wall Street Journal gets it. “This is a deeply anxious and insecure generation,” he argues. “On the surface they look self-confident, [but] deep down they know that they don’t actually know what it takes to win.”
Apparently it’s going to take a decade of wandering for us to figure it out.
“Um… I can’t think of the word.”
I am not the most articulate person in person. It’s something that I’ve had to work on. A lot.
Mostly, it has a lot to do with my personality type. What’s going through my head sounds quite coherent to me, but I tend to say things first and think second. That makes me stumble in the middle of sentences and prefer to put words to paper instead of lips.
I didn’t really know this was a problem until my last job. A position that was all about public speaking. Speaking. Out loud.
I just got off the phone with Zeus, and I’m angry. This isn’t a surprise because I’m quick to anger, quick to forgiveness and quick to just about every emotion, really. The emotional roller coaster of being a woman and all.
Zeus and I have been engaged in phone warfare. Which also isn’t all that surprising considering that he works for a start-up and now I work for a start-up and well, life is busy.
You will understand this even more when I tell you who Zeus is – that is, Zeus is Ryan Healy, co-founder of both Brazen Careerist and Employee Evolution.
“I don’t know if I want to be with Zeus,” I say.
“If you don’t want to, then don’t,” my mother replies.
But it’s more complicated than that, and I tell her why. I tell her that I really do what to be with him – a lot – but I don’t know how. I tell her that I’ve been sabotaging the relationship, and I don’t know how to stop. I confess everything, and feel the weight dissipate.
“You do look for problems,” she says. “You push things too far. You test people too much. That’s not good. So now you need to figure out if you’re going to mature and grow up or not.”
I’m silent because normally my mother tells me how great I am, how I can do no wrong, and how all men suck.