Anonymous asked: Can you help me get out of the midwest?
All you gotta do is commit to leaving and don’t look back!
All you gotta do is commit to leaving and don’t look back!
I can’t stop thinking about my future.
I can’t stop thinking about our future.
Sending the vibes back out into the universe.
Last fall I began taking a class at the gym called Body Art, which combines movement, yoga and pilates.
In the beginning, I was taking this class because my favorite instructor was teaching it and I felt like I wanted to get back into yoga again, without actually getting back into yoga again. Basically I wanted my arms to look like I was doing a hundred chaturangas a day, without having to give up some of my other favorite classes to take yoga classes. (I’m the worst yogi ever, apparently).
I almost immediately felt a shift within myself. The first thing I noticed was that I was becoming much stronger, especially in my upper body. Suddenly I could hold 3 minute planks and do tricep pushups like nobody’s business. But what I noticed more was how I felt after class. I felt empowered, I felt balanced and I felt calm. Let me tell you, feeling calm is huge accomplishment in New York City.
And I would feel this hours, sometimes days after class. Body Art really allowed me to shut off my mind, but still be present. Dance brought me joy, strength training brought me muscles (and the ability to perform better in dance), but Body Art brought me piece of mind.
I’m sharing this because today, while in our final resting place (shavasana to you yogis) as Rachel was talking to us, guiding us through some mediation, I began to cry.
As I lay, very still, in the dark room, where we had all just poured our hearts out and focused our positive energy, Rachel said to us, “Breathe in- “I am”, breathe out- “enough”. Something about that statement really hit home for me today. I am enough.
Rachel’s words are half the reason I go to this class. Sometimes we forget how hard we work our bodies, how grateful we should be to our muscles for performing the way that they do, for bringing us through every single day- and she reminds us of that. In a time when we can be completely still, but vibrating at such a high frequency, she reminds us to tell ourselves that we are enough.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, maybe you’re having a rotten day, maybe you just can’t catch a break- breathe in, “I am”, breathe out, “enough”.
It’s been months since I’ve visited this place, but with my 25th birthday swiftly approaching, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on who I was, who I am and who I’m becoming.
Heavy, I know.
Most of my life I’ve been extremely goal oriented. I was oddly competitive for an only child. I never had to compete with siblings, or anyone else really, except myself. My parents never put any pressure on me to be the “best and the brightest”. But somewhere in my childhood I guess I decided I needed to prove to everyone and myself that I could be the “best”, that I could do anything I put my mind to.
When I think back on it, it might have begun in the 3rd grade. Somehow I was placed in a program for “gifted” children. One day a week me and some other kids in my grade would go to a special classroom and we would do independent research projects, learn SAT words, practice more advanced math. I think that when I was put on that trajectory, that was when I realized I needed to prove to everyone that I belonged there. I never really felt like I was any smarter than my peers, I think I was just born with a hell of a lot of drive.
From then on, I felt this need to succeed. I know a lot of kids feel it these days, but the societal pressures were different back then, it wasn’t about having crazy success at 13- it was about doing your best. But my “best” always needed to be better than 80% of the people I knew.
I didn’t realize it then, but I did a lot growing up, especially in high school. I was in clubs, I did community theater, I was a dancer, I worked my ass off in school. Most days I would go to school until 3PM, having meetings until 4PM, have rehearsals until 6PM, go home and do homework until 7:30PM and then be at the dance studio until 9PM. Almost every day, for four years. Sometimes I would be in shows at school and also be in shows at a community theater. I think once I was in 3 shows at the same time.
And the entire time I was only accepting A’s for myself. I remember getting a B or a B+ felt like failure. I remember in 2003, deciding I would go to NYU and study journalism. In my mind, I had no other choice. Of course I did have other choices, I applied to 9 universities and was accepted to all but one (damn you Northwestern). People admitted later that they never believe I would get into NYU. Or that I would go. Those were the people that fueled me and my ambition.
Then there was the fiasco that was NYU. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have been accepted. The pressure grew to be too much for me. I became depressed. I stopped enjoying my life. I was a full time student and working 30 hours a week at Fred Flare. I remember getting a 70 on a paper for my journalism class, a paper where the class of over 100 students had averaged a 55 and feeling like I failed. The highest grade on that paper was an 80. I should have been thrilled and all I can remember is thinking to myself, “this is it, I’m not cut out for this, I can’t do it”. I ended that class, by far the hardest class I have ever taken, a class that was “meant to weed out the weaklings”, with an A-. I aced my final. I worked my ass off to do it, but somehow I did it, when I was so sure I would fail.
And yet that class broke me. I weeded myself out of that pool of journalism students. I said to myself, “I’m not cut out for this, it’s making me unhappy to fail all the time.” I was never failing, of course, but somehow I had become delusional when it came to school. At the time school was success for me. And I wanted to succeed. So I quit.
I don’t consider myself a quitter. I think NYU was the only thing in my life I have truly given up and quit. Of course I didn’t really “quit”. I still graduated with an associates degree. I had an incredible last semester actually. I let go of what I was trying to accomplish, I let the pressure of journalism and my “dream” just float away and I flourished. I took classes I wanted to take- I studied art history and existentialism and it was amazing.
I have always been afraid of admitting this, but I regret leaving NYU. I ruined that experience for myself. I know that because I look back on that last semester and I see all of my successes once I let go of my obsession with success. I was creative and happy, I was having intelligent conversations, I was making new friends. NYU suddenly became everything I had wanted it to be.
But it was too late by the time I realized it. And so I graduated and transferred to LIM. It was such a transitional time for me. Kyle broke up with me, I left NYU, I spent my last summer at home, I left all my old friends from college in hopes of finding new ones.
And the truth is, I was much happier at LIM. There were small parts of me that were disappointed- I felt I wasn’t being challenged, I wasn’t sure if I was learning anything, the part of me that was obsessed with school and success felt like I was copping out- taking it easy on myself. In some ways I was. But my quality of life really flourished. I made so many friends, I started interning and learning “real life” lessons.
I had to teach myself how to be happy again. And oddly enough, it wasn’t easy. For many years of my life it was hard for me to be happy. I often felt like I didn’t deserve my happiness. My life had spiraled in a way I had never imagined and so I tried to regain control and order in my life. My eating disorder got out of control again. I had learned to accept that I wouldn’t be perfect in school, and so I decided I should be perfect in my “health”. Food has always been the easiest way for me get the control I feel like I need.
I don’t know that I’ve ever really come out about it here, but I think most of you who know me, or have been around for a while, sort of knew anyway. It started when I was in middle school and waxed and wained when I was in high school. When I began college I gained weight and I felt okay with it. I didn’t have time to worry about counting calories because I was too busy worrying about school and work. And then I got quite thin again when I began to lose control of my relationship with Kyle. It’s funny, I always tell the story of our breakup with the idea that I never saw it coming, but I began obsessing over food again around the time that our relationship started unraveling.
Being at home and having my parents monitoring me, I recovered a little. But as anyone who has an issue with eating, or really any obsessive issue, can tell you- it’s a constant battle. One you fight the rest of your life. I felt okay when I left home for LIM, but by the spring semester I was in full on obsessive mode. Not only was I counting every calorie I put in my body, I was also actively trying to count every calorie I burned off. I would have a smoothie for breakfast and be on the treadmill until I burned it off. I wrote down everything I ate and how many calories it had and how many calories I burned and if the number at the end of the day wasn’t below 100, I would feel like I failed. I wasn’t even thinking about all the calories you burn just by existing.
In 40 days I lost 10 pounds. Which isn’t insane, but I went from weighing 118 to 107.5 I remember feeling so proud when I went below 110. Something about 110 just seemed bad to me, I decided I needed to be under 110. Before I lost the weight, I had bought a new dress that I felt amazing in and after I lost the weight, I remember wearing it and E saying to me, “You look really skinny. Have you lost weight?” I was so proud to tell her, “10 pounds!” and she looked at me and said, “I liked the dress better before.” I think that was the moment I realized what I had done.
I began obsessively trying to monitor my obsessiveness. Instead of calories to count, I became obsessed with nutrients and vitamins and protein. I tried not to count the calories. I stopped writing everything down. I still knew the nutritional information of almost everything I ate, but I tried to ignore the numbers doing caloric intake math in my head.
Finally, my senior year of school I found a new goal to obsess over. Instead of school and food, I became obsessed with my future. Where would I find a job? What did I want to do? Where would I live? Would I make enough money? Would I find a boyfriend? Would I be happy again?
It was a healthy goal for me. I found the right balance of working hard at school and treating my body better. I lived with two very free spirited girls. Free spirited in completely different, and sometimes reckless, ways but I think they helped me let go a little. Many nights were spent staying out until 3AM, eating onion rings and skipping class. I finally felt like I was a college student in my 20s, not some drained, half dead unhappy person.
In my heart I knew I wanted to be in styling, but I was afraid to dream too big again. I took my job at Anthro and was happy with it, I excelled at it, I supported myself with it. I threw myself into my work. I stopped worrying about everything else and it all just sort of fell into place. I became happy, I felt successful for the first time in years. I started running and I felt the power that comes with being healthy.
I continued to freelance, and as you know, that grew and grew until I had to leave Anthro. It’s been almost exactly a year to the day that I quit Anthropologie. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I literally let go of all control. I didn’t know when I would work, how much I would make, if I would be okay- I did a 180 and you know what, I was okay.
I still am okay. It’s up and down, but I’m still out here, a year later, supporting myself doing something I enjoy. I’ve lost control of my life and it has grown into this beautiful, unexpected, blissful existence.
So here I am. Almost 25. And I don’t know that I have any goals right now. I’m not really working towards anything, except being a better version of myself. I feel up in the air about almost all aspects of my life. I can feel that there will be a big shift for me in 2014. I love styling, but I can see myself doing other things. I love New York, but I can see my life moving somewhere else. I’m only 25. For a minute I think I had almost fooled myself into thinking I was settling down, but now I see that I’ve just been settling into my life to rest, getting ready for something bigger.
I’m not at a crossroads in my life yet, but I can see it in the distance. Slowly, but surely approaching. I’m happy in the fashion industry, but I think that I’m ready to admit to myself that it’s not what I want to do forever. I don’t know what I’ll do next. I have ideas, but nothing concrete. Nothing to work towards quite yet.
I’ve become completely un-goal oriented. That’s where I’m at, at (almost) 25. I’ve learned to lose control of my life and love every minute of it. I’ve learned that I can still be challenged without structure or goals. I see what has come out of the last 2 years of my life, when I have felt the most out of control of my life, but in the best way possible. I took a leap of faith. Actually I took a couple leaps of faith. I took big risks and got the biggest, greatest rewards.
I feel empowered on a daily basis. I feel strong, physically, mentally and spiritually. I am proud of what I can do. I am proud of myself for ditching every goal I had planned out 11 years ago, throwing it all to wind and saying, “What now?”. My joy doesn’t come from numbers or obsessions. It comes from coffee dates, sleepovers, dance classes, laughing to tears, re-runs of Say Yes to the Dress, Emojis in my text messages, getting mail, being in love.
Who am I becoming? I don’t know, because I don’t have it all planned out. And that’s okay with me. I know I will have big decisions to make in my 25th year and that’s going to require some goals and some planning and some control. But I’ve got time for all that.
Alright, I need a glass of wine.
Today I read some soul-crushing news.
One of my favorite authors, Ned Vizzini, committed suicide at the age of 32. Ned wrote, what is arguably my favorite book of all time, It’s Kind of a Funny Story. I have written about the book MANY times on this blog in the past and all of the ways it has changed me. The novel is based on Ned’s stint at a mental institution in Brooklyn in 2004 after he attempted suicide. It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that someone who wrote so extensively about battling depression and overcoming suicidal thoughts, someone who dedicated their time to advocating for teen mental health, would eventually lose their battle against suicide. Depression and suicide is a lifelong struggle, something you never stop fighting, and this loss really hit me hard.
I first read It’s Kind of a Funny Story just as I was beginning my senior year of high school. As soon as I finished the book, I immediately began re-reading it. Though I wasn’t suffering from any signs of depression at the time, it’s almost as if I knew how important this book would be to me later in life. I re-read it again my freshmen year of high school, and even gave it to a couple of people for Christmas that year.
But it wasn’t until the fall of 2008 that I really depended on Ned’s words. A few of you were probably already reading my blog by then, but to recap- I was basically drowning. I hated my major, I was struggling with school, I was struggling with my relationship, my mental health completely deteriorated, I was often sick, I cried every day for no reason- I was totally lost. I felt like I had no control over anything in my life and I was spiraling, and fast.
I re-read It’s Kind of a Funny Story for maybe the fifth or sixth time, and it was then that I truly understood Ned’s philosophy of anchors vs. tentacles. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story- go read it. Just kidding! I mean, yes, go read it, but I’ll explain it to you.
The main character, Craig, explains that everything in his life falls into two categories: anchors and tentacles. Tentacles are things like homework- “If I don’t do my homework, I won’t get a good grade in my class, if I don’t get a good grade, I won’t graduate, if I don’t graduate, I won’t get a good job, if I don’t get a good job, I won’t make a lot of money, if I don’t make a lot of money, I’ll never find someone to marry me and I won’t have kids, etc” basically that thought process until one little task feels monumental and you can’t handle it and you shut down.
Then there are anchors. Anchors are things that can occupy your mind and make you feel good. There aren’t choices or decisions in anchors, it’s something simple, something that grounds you. For Craig it was riding his bike, or drawing maps.
Craig reasoned that you needed more anchors and less tentacles in your life. The anchors were something for you to hold on to when the tentacles were trying to overwhelm you. It didn’t have to be anything monumental, like I said, one of Craig’s anchors was riding his bike. It was a simple, sequential task, that had no consequences.
At a time in my life when I had nothing but tentacles, I re-read It’s Kind of a Funny Story and it was my anchor. I must have read it 20 times between fall and winter of 2008. Any time I was struggling, any time I felt overwhelmed and like I had lost complete control of my life, I turned to that book and I felt grounded. It helped me realize I needed change in my life- NYU was a big, nasty tentacle for me, and I had to get rid of it. So I applied to transfer to another college, and between that and a few other things, I managed to regain most of the regularity in my life and I got better after about a year or so. Not all better, but better.
When I was still at Fred Flare, I wrote this post about Ned and It’s Kind of a Funny Story. If you look at the comments, Ned actually found my post and left a comment. I remember feeling so thrilled just knowing that he knew how much I appreciated his work.
Summer 2012 I had been thinking a lot about anchors and tentacles. I was beginning to feel like I was losing control of my life again. It wasn’t a daily thing anymore, but there would be weeks where I would feel myself slipping back. I got nervous. I never want to be where I was in that period of my life. I hope that I am never that person again. And so I decided to get an anchor tattooed on the back of my right arm. I don’t know if I ever shared a photograph of that tattoo, but I’m certain I never shared the reason behind it.
It’s not that I have ever been embarrassed to use the “D” word. It happens. It just…doesn’t seem like it should have ever happened to me. I have never tried to hide it, but I’ve never been open about what was going on with me at that time in my life, and many times after that particularly terrible year. And so, when I got my anchor tattoo, to remind me to always fill my life with anchors, I never really explained the meaning behind it. I just chalked it up to a “classic” tattoo that looked bad ass. It totally does look bad ass, in a dainty sort of way?
That anchor will be with me for the rest of my life. I will never forget to find things that ground me. I always meant to send Ned a letter to tell him that, because his book was really that important to me. And now…I guess I never will. I’m still in shock that he took his life at 32. A part of me, a silly part of me, wishes that I could have helped him find another anchor to hold on to, but so it goes.
When two girls share a moment and form an inside joke that is the happiest feeling in the world. Or like when you mention a youtube video to your friend and she hasn’t seen it and then you’re like “WAIT” and then you pull it up and you get to watch her react. Oh my god, I just love when something is so funny between girls that you literally scream and roll over onto the floor. These are honestly the moments that cause the most euphoric happiness for me. I have never been in love in my life, but I often imagine the feeling is ALMOST equivalent to the pure joy of creating an inside joke with your friend. I get so sad thinking about how girls are made to feel shame for feeling enthusiasm. Whenever people ask me my favorite “film” because I tell them I’m studying english and film I get super nervous. Like, I’ll be bartending and some boring old man will ask me about college and like idk what they expect me to say. My favorite movies are Josie and The Pussycats, The Princess Diaries, Sugar & Spice. I think my duty is life is make more movies/shows where girls are portrayed as big weirdos. Not a show exclusively for “weird girls!” Because the truth is every girl is weird and gross and silly and people need to know and celebrate that.
Also, today I’m feeling bad because I can’t muster up the stamina to write a 9 page paper due tomorrow. I used to hoard tote bags full of books every time I went to the library as a kid and now I feel super mediocre at college. I just feel like I’m living a lie sometimes. This isn’t like a self-deprecating statement, it’s a truth! I wonder how I got in to my school because I honestly am lazy and I only like learning in terms of listening to my teacher talk and being like “Whoa! Cool fact!” but at the end of the day I just want to go home and watch Vampire Diaries episodes that I’ve already seen and experiment with makeup and cook nutritious but flavorful meals. Everyone complains about us being the Google generation or whatever but I think there is something to be said for the value of going down a Wikipedia blackhole. I’m really good at retaining “useless” information about celebrity marriages and poisonous plants. I don’t think it’s useless though, I think it’s character study or something.
It’s been about three months since I wrote anything pertaining to my life on this blog.
I’ve been hesitant to write anything about really shutting it down, because it’s a place I’ve been able to come to when I have something to write, or something to say.
I am still here though. I still check in, open up a blank post, stare at it for 20 minutes and then log off.
It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. I think we all know that isn’t something I’ve ever struggled with. It’s more that I have…everything to say, but nothing I want to share.
My life is so precious to me right now. I don’t want to spoil it by writing it all down for the world to hear. My day to day existence doesn’t really revolve around actions and activities anymore, but rather around conversations and emotions.
So much of what I used to write was my day to day life- almost like an extended planner. My day to day life hasn’t changed much. I’m still freelancing as an assistant stylist, I’m still at the gym almost every day, I’m still having brunch with Alyssa. Those things…they’re just the things I do. They don’t matter so much to me anymore. What’s important to me is the people in my life, the talks we have, the laughs we share, the moments we exist in together. And those are things I don’t feel like putting out there for everyone to be a part of. Those things are special to me.
As most of you know, I have an incredible man in my life now. I often returned to this place to write about love. It’s something I have truly struggled with, as many of you who have been with me for a couple of years know. I used to be very quick to give my heart away, and my last failed relationship really made me question how easily I loved others. Not just romantic love, but love in general. I’ve had a lot of heartbreak, not just from past romantic interests, but from friends too.
And now that I finally have everything I want (for now), I don’t feel like just…giving it all away. He is so much a part of my life, and it’s a part that I’m very hesitant to share…with anyone really, not just this blog. What we share is special and sacred and involves a lot of circumstances that not many people understand.
I look back at my blog, almost on a daily basis, and it really expresses how much I’ve grown the past year or so. My 25th year is swiftly approaching and I think I’ve really matured. Of course I have moments when I realize I’m still basically a child, with such a far way to go still before I “figure things out”.
I can remember when I first moved out here and was still in college, I felt like a lot of people changed. Friends from home, friends in New York…I felt like everyone around me was becoming someone else and I always said, “I’m still the same person, I haven’t changed at all.” Well, I’ve finally changed. Sometimes I think about the various versions of myself that have existed in this city and I don’t even recognize myself.
Growing up y’all, am I right?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that despite the fact that I am still struggling out here, despite the fact that at last I have found some sort of sublime happiness in another person, despite the fact that I have so many great, amazing New York moments every week…I will no longer be writing about anything personal on this blog anymore (non-fiction anyway).
I may still continue to post little vignettes from Ellipsis, I may continue to share little fictional pieces that I write, but I just…am tired of giving up my life to this blog. I’m at the point where my life belongs to me now and I want it to remain that way. I’ve always done a pretty exceptional job at keeping in touch with my “real life” friends, but if we are Tumblr friends, know that you can always find me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook (HelloJewlie) or shoot me a message here.
Lovin’ life, as always.
But back to Ellipsis, the point of this entry. It’s weird to think that no one has read even one page of it. It’s kind of like that “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, did it make a noise?” type of situation. “If Jewlie writes a novel, but no one is around to read it, does it really exist?” It does. Especially in my head. Sometimes I still think of Ryan and Madeline, if things between them could have ever worked out. If they might still work out, in my imagination. The whole concept of the novel has been on my mind lately. The way that two people could be perfect for each other, just in another lifetime.
I don’t know, I’m just rambling now. That’s what crazy love affairs are for, I suppose.
And it was a strange moment for me, realizing I was no longer in love with you. I had always been a firm believer in that whole, “You’ll always be a little in love your first love” philosophy. I guess that was just a little white lie I was telling myself when I claimed to have moved on.
Though I’ve been blissfully happy for a long time, the idea of you still played over in my mind, late at night when I couldn’t sleep, when I would lie in bed and replay my favorite memories of us on the screen behind my eyelids. Instead of binge watching some show on Netflix, I would binge watch the highlights reel from the previous 8 seasons of our relationship.
Hadn’t this scenario, this exact moment of clarity, hadn’t this always been our pipe dream? A crazy love affair, somewhere far from home. For years I was able to entertain the idea because I didn’t think there was any real truth behind it. The dream was like us; it was an ellipsis. I thought we would always be those three dots, waiting for someone or something to complete us, to make sense of this.
And suddenly, it seemed like that moment might come. Of course we had come close, many times before. The time in your car when I asked you to hold my hand. The time in my driveway when you held on to me just a few seconds longer than I held on to you. The many times I would look at you over the edge of my coffee cup and I knew you could hear the words underneath our silence.
But this time was different. This time was concrete. We were in new territory, in more ways than one. I wasn’t coming home, I wasn’t coming back to the place where the ghosts of our past sat waiting for us to breathe life back into them. I wasn’t coming to you. You were coming to me. And I saw the significance in that, even if you didn’t.
I wasn’t nervous about seeing you. I never have been. And then suddenly, when I knew the moment was really coming, I felt it all at once. As though all of the nerves I should have been feeling the past 8 years suddenly broke the dam in my brain that was holding back the flood. A chill washed over me, and yes, I’m sure it wasn’t the New York winter winds.
And then I saw you. And it should have been perfect. Everything I could have ever wished for us was falling into place, and none of it by my doing. But the problem was that for once, for possibly the first time, I wasn’t falling into place. In that moment I knew it; I wasn’t in love with you anymore. And I never will be again.
Maybe I’ve known it for a while. I think that I have. It was important for me to hold on to our ellipsis for a little while longer. I wonder if you felt it. I believe that you did. We have always been connected on a level that I still can’t quite explain, and so I believe you must have felt the shift. Just now, recounting this moment, I’ve realized I didn’t call you “stranger”. Oh, the irony in that.
So, we never got our crazy love affair. Our pipe dream was just a pipe dream. I think some part of us thought that we would somehow find ourselves again. That maybe we would find a way to fit back into that original, magical idea of “us”.
We’ve been trapped in our ellipsis. Our relationship hasn’t grown since we first met. But we have. Our lives are too big to fit into the small box that is “us”. We never could have lived up to our own expectations.
Never, in all of the hours that I spent dreaming about the end of our ellipsis, never did I believe that it would end with me wishing you were someone else. And not in the sense that I would want to change you, but rather that I have finally found someone to hold my entire heart. And maybe that’s what I’ve been missing all this time. Maybe I’ve been waiting for someone to finally occupy that space that I’ve always had cleared away for you and I.
I wasn’t sad when you left. I don’t know when I’ll see you again. Maybe I never will. And that’s okay because I finally know.
I know what’s at the end of our ellipsis.