The Summer of Me
After wrestling myself from an abusive relationship last spring, where I lost all sense of self and direction, I decided to dedicate this summer to myself. At first this felt like an incredibly self-absorbed and Kardashian thing to do, but once I took a step back I realized it was simple: all I had to do was dedicate my time to what I felt was important. That didn’t mean that I had to spend three months staring at my figure in an Instagram post.
As a result of this altered mind state, today, I find myself at a very weird place in my life. It has been a month of this shit, and there is something about questions like, “What do you want out of life, Mavis?” and “Who do you want to be, Mavis?” that make me frankly uncomfortable.
I am changing that.
And even though I am only half way through The Summer of Me, I have learned a couple things already.
For starters, there is nothing wrong with the word no. I had a hell of a time turning people down, whether it was dumping a guy or finishing someone’s work assignment. If you needed something from me, I would stop the world from turning and part the seas to make sure it got done. However, I have figured out that there are only so many hours in the day, and my time has to be managed according to what I can handle. Also, caffeine is not the same thing as sleep.
I have also stopped following the advice of others without considering my own feelings. In the past, particularly in reference to my career, I would listen carefully to the words of everyone around me, taking meticulous notes, and following what they said like a soldier follows his drill sergeant.
This is really not a good idea, I’ve found, unless you like being miserable.
I am not a routine person. I am not a desk person. I am not a ‘make an ass ton of money but hate your job’ person. This is what many people have advised that I do by applying with the federal government, for reasons of job security and finances. And for a while, I was close to doing it. Instead, I have devised a career path in the creative world that has its risks, but I will be much happier knowing I am pursuing my own dream, rather than the dreams of others.
In doing this, I also discovered that I have a real romantic streak in me. I can make a grand escapade out of buying toilet paper at the grocery store. (It involved racing manned shopping carts down aisles, if you’re curious.) I have to seek out laughter and adventure in order to be happy.
The hardest lesson I am learning is how to be alone. Part of why I got so lost with my ex lies in the fact that I was not okay with myself at face value. I did not feel interesting, or beautiful, or like I was worth good or even fair treatment. It’s such a common ailment, especially in women.
To my female readers: please do not do what I did. You are worth every metamorphic cent a significant other could pay. You are beautiful even when he doesn’t say it. You are interesting even when he is not listening. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do or how to feel. You are the only you, and don’t you fucking forget it.
I am far better off being single and while it has been an adjustment to not have someone to answer to, or that best friend figure to lean on, I am learning to guide myself. That gut instinct that we all have is buried deep within me, and digging it out has been a challenge. I’m starting with simple things, such as “What type of coffee do I want today?” and moving from there.
The final thing I’ve just begun to do is self-care. Before this summer I did little in the way of staying healthy physically or mentally. I started going to the gym and doing small things for me, like doing my nails or watching improv shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway or Improv-a-ganza, which are like crack to me. (Small side note: I got my nails done for the first time two weeks ago. $25 later, I discovered that although I end up also painting my fingers, it is very worth it for the broke college student to do her own nails.)
So I’m halfway through this Transformative Summer, and I’ve made a good amount of progress. If you are feeling a little lost or alone right now, I urge you to give ‘doing you’ a shot. Really ask yourself what you want, and take life one day at a time. Give yourself a chance to get to know yourself. In the end, you may like who you discover.