Almost exactly a year ago, I was sitting at a park picnic table trying not to cry my eyes out. I had just graduated from college, moved into a strangers garage apartment, started a full time job as a marketing assistant, said goodbye to all of my best friends and was miserable. It looked like everyone had started on these grand adventures of becoming an adult and all I really had to look forward to was the watching Rachel Lindsay find true love on Monday nights at 7 (she's my favorite bachelorette). I had no idea was what right around the corner from me and really needed a hug. If I could go back to myself a year ago and sit with her on my window sill bench, this is what I would say:
1. You CAN exist here
Often times, when we are in painful seasons our perspective vanishes. It feels like our world is falling apart as if we are on the brink of destruction. But sometimes, pain leads up to more fruit. In my case, embracing my grief was the only good option. Grief can't be healed by covering it up, choking it down, or faking it till you make it. Grief demands to be acknowledged. But even there, we can exists. Even on the weeks were we come home crying every night to a pint of Jimmy Fallon Ben & Jerry's (my fav flave) we are worthy of love. We are worthy of space and time. We are worthy of softness and we WILL get through this. You can exist in pain. You are not a burden to the world. Be the first to believe in yourself.
2. Its okay to take another bath
Instagram was becoming my demise. My friends were on European backpacking trips, having the time of their lives working at summer camps, moving to new citifies, dating new guys and I was sitting in an office 8 hours a day with only my bathtub and books to come home to. My sadness felt too heavy to do much else. Going out seemed like SO much work. All I really wanted was permission to read, drink wine, take baths and feel. I would tell myself to do just that. If taking long bubble baths is what makes you feel safe and relaxed- DO THAT! Especially if you just graduate from 3 years of living in community bathrooms. Do what makes you feel human and worthy.
3. Go to OKC
My best friend Courtney moved two hours away to Oklahoma City. I should have visited her more. Looking back, I have no idea why I didn't. Heaviness maybe? But if I could go back, I would tell myself to pack a bag and knock on her front door. I would tell myself that I wasn't a burden to her and you will feel a lot better on her couch. Courtney is a haven of a person. Courtney is made beds, good french presses, family dinners and a big stack of pancakes. She is everything comforting and spacious. She was the first person to ever enter into my pain that first year I arrive in Oklahoma. I'll never forget that moment because I was shocked she really wanted to know more. And she remains this way for me. She leans in and at the same time leaves room for deep breaths. I would tell myself to stop the negative self talk and drive to OKC.
4. Give the country boy a chance
I truly had no idea what was coming right around the corner two months later from the time I moved into that little garage apartment. I had no idea the hope that would come back. I met Jacob in June, became his friend in August and we started dating in September. He has been more than I ever imagined. If I could go back, I would prepare my own heart to give Jacob a chance (give love another chance). I was really caught off guard by my feelings for Jacob. But he has been another "Courtney" for me- a friend who has helped me come back home to myself.
5. You are doing fine
I spent the majority of these 3 very necessary months beatng myself up. I played the comparison game constantly telling myself that I should have been farther along by now. But the truth is, is that God knew exactly what he was doing. I needed those 3 months to grieve the transition from ORU, Oklahoma, living with my friends, and the dreams I thought might come true. I don't let go easily- God knew. I wish I could go back and just hug my 21 year old self and tell her that she was doing a really great job. That she wasn't behind but in transition and she was allowed to drink red wine on the back porch if that what she really wanted. The self hatred and negative self talk I embraced last summer was hard core unfortunately. Me last year really just needed a hug and a friend. If I could go back, I would be that friend for myself. She was doing fine and had a lot of amazing things coming.