Upon turning 29 last November, I’ve set my mind on the idea that I am “approaching 30.” Rather than simply being “29” in conversations meeting new people, I am instead, “almost 30.” This shift in the way that I have been conceiving of my own age betrays an overwhelming anxiety about so much of my life right now. A very close friend pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago that I am worried about everything recently: worried about the process of daily life (eating well, exercising, flossing my teeth, etc.), worried about saying the right things (or not), worried about my dog, my family, people I love/have loved, worried about making all the wrong decisions…
Upon realizing my overwhelming capacity for anxiety, for the past week I’ve been attempting to embrace my own truths. I’ve been trying to be okay with being human, with saying stupid things; I’ve been trying to be honest; I’ve been trying to express myself in more meaningful ways; I’ve been trying to worry less and embrace my own fallibility. As my favorite character in literature, Josephine March says, “I am hopelessly flawed”; but I ask you—isn’t that where the real heft of life begins? Isn’t it upon embracing the flaws that we become our true selves? Isn’t part of becoming a better self intimately entwined with an acceptance of the errors, all the missteps, and all of the things perpetually left unsaid and thus finding solace amongst the silences?
I thought today about how pain from heartache should be like a paper-cut—the grace of the paper’s movement coupled with the rapidity of the pain it inflicts and then its sonic dissipation was attractive for a moment. But then that would completely defeat the purpose of all the understanding that comes from being brave enough to do the difficult work of inspecting the contours of the wound, the microscopic fibers of the paper’s edge remaining within you—the entire world of knowledge wrapped up in that incorporation.
I recently wrote that I was happy that a friend had “found love.” And then I thought more about it, and reflected that love isn’t lying dormant to be “found,” but rather, it is in the daily choice to cultivate a space for love where love truly begins. In speaking to the same old friend I voiced an idea about love and relationships that had always existed within me but that I had never made audible. I said that love is not a series of instantaneous euphoric moments receding into some invisible future, but waking each day and choosing someone or something to walk another hour beside. It is in the consciousness of that choice, in the pragmatic action of choosing where love truly begins, I think.
Being 29 is about choosing to be in real time with myself. I’ve always thought that the sentiment, “Take your time” is an utterly ironic phrase. We are so lucky in that delusion and simultaneously betrayed by it. I think about the Jack Gilbert poem below, “Tear it down” and the line “we must insist while there is still time.” I think about that so much. I think part of my recent influx of anxiety has stemmed from my overwhelming desire to insist for myself in the ungraspable time of my life. There’s a paradox in that. Each day I try to insist on being grateful—for more time here, for the generosity of my friends and family, for honest conversations, for having all of my sensory perceptions. I want to insist on love. To insist on the process of my own becoming and learning to accept all the ways that I am uncomfortable and floundering. I have realized that as a 29 year old woman I feel as if I know very little about a lot of things. I want to insist for more knowledge of the world and myself in it. I told my parents at the end of the last semester that getting a doctoral degree makes you feel dumber, so much dumber before it makes you feel any smarter. Life is like this.
Beholden’s motto is “to render its essence”—that is, not only to render the essence of oneself through dress, but also to embrace the essential core of oneself in the world and to make that essential self visible— to have the courage to accept fallibility, to celebrate your faltering ways, and to sustain that generosity through the mire. But above all, the point of origin for Beholden is contained within the idea of choice: for one must first choose to be courageous enough to make aspects of an essential self visible. What a difficult thing, really. My attempts at doing this take the shape of speaking my truths whenever I can, wearing what makes me feel good, writing critical essays where I go out on limbs with my analysis, decorating my home and rearranging it/adding to it almost daily so that it becomes an extension of my inner-most feelings—a haven, a celebration of my own becoming, and writing blog posts that are potentially odiously forthcoming. So be it.
I believe in so many things: aliens, non-verbal communication, compassion as religion, the energy of my soul, the profound interconnectedness of living organisms, the health benefits of eating local honey, but above all I believe in the idea of choosing courage. I choose to be brave enough to cultivate a life in which I can fall in love a little everyday even through the muck and toil of daily living. This is a way for me to ease my anxieties about being/saying/ or doing the “wrong things.” I try to keep my eyes turned up and appreciate the bounty. It is a way to check myself. To acknowledge the grand finitude of my being. So this blog will become a place for that brand of appreciation, I hope. It will be many different things. Today I am grateful for the space Beholden has provided me to think these thoughts and to make myself visible. As always, thank you for reading.
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