Four days from now I will be plummeting down a snowy mountain. Plummeting is a generous term, but I will be learning to snowboard for the first time. I have visited the snow plenty of times and have an affinity toward mountains. Give me an over-sized sweater (preferably Native American inspired), some boots, a warm drink, a fire, and I am in pure bliss. My personal heaven will have endless log cabins. I am also quite sure that I belong in the Pacific Northwest, or that I was a fisherman in a past life, but Southern California suits me fine, for now.
Here is the thing, though. I am nervous as hell. I don’t really want to snowboard. I am wondering where my bold sense of (reckless) adventure has gone. It lightened with the development of my frontal lobe, and with the constant need for responsibility that early adulthood has welcomed. As a child I was up to any challenge and craved life endlessly. My mother would find me hanging from window sills in the house at age two, rush me to the hospital with a concussion at age 4, a broken arm at age 5, and numerous adventures turned scares after that. I cliff-jumped into lakes as a teenager, raced four-wheelers through the dark desert air, and felt free.
While responsibility and prudence is appropriate in life, I want to feel that freedom. It would be like laughing until you cry and instantly remembering how easy and often that happened when you were younger. I never remember how amazing it feels to laugh until your stomach hurts, until it happens; I’m suddenly reminded that when I usually smile, it’s only a fraction of true joy that I can feel.
For the first time, I do not have clear plans about what I am doing with my life after I graduate in May. I do not know where I will be working or living, I do not know what my romantic or personal life will look like. I like to think that this is my mature version of hanging from the window sills. I am exhilarated and amazed by this turning point that is approaching.
Sure, maybe strapping myself to a board and sliding down a snowy mountain is scary and nerve-wracking, but I’m ready. Besides, everyone I talk to tells me that the ski-lift is the worst part.
I just have to jump.
“Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.”
In the last two weeks, I’ve managed to get myself into some tricky conversations with someone I barely even know- a friend of a friend situation. I’ve run into him twice, and each time have wound up somehow talking… politics.
I love to talk politics. I love politics. I’ve been political since I can remember. I was a bossy child, a student government enthusiast in high school, and at one point in 2nd grade, I was reprimanded and sent to the hallway for staging a coup over what I considered to be some VERY sexist Christmas crafts. Know any 8 year-old feminists? No? Well, nice to meet you! I was one.
I’m a Liberal. I’ve been that way forever. My parents are Liberal. My Grandma watches Bill Maher and once told me that “it’s just not her place to judge anyone else. She just wanted everyone to be happy.”. I come by this very naturally.
This friend of a friend is the complete opposite of me politically, and when he started in on what I do for a living, and how my political beliefs must play into that, things got messy. I like the high road, and do my very best to stay on it as much as possible, but when someone starts using the term “horrible person” to describe me, and makes the bold claim that I lack a soul, I must admit that I look for a detour from the high road onto “why don’t you shut the f$%! up” highway.
If I had been clever enough to think on my feet at the time, perhaps I would have told him this: You don’t pay my bills, or clean up my messes, or have to carry my burdens. I don’t care what you do with your time, because it’s yours. And I have to ask, why the hell are you so concerned about what I think? Do you not value yourself enough to be confident enough to not have to attack me? Have you considered that maybe you’ve resorted to insults because you don’t think very highly of yourself and that’s all you’ve got in your arsenal?
Maybe it’s too simple a solution, maybe I’m an idealist, but why can’t people just worry about themselves? Just do whatever the hell makes you happy and let me do the same. I don’t think people should have to validate their lifestyles by knocking someone else’s. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Do your thing and I’ll do mine.
"…but he knew you can’t really be strong until you can see a funny side to things." -One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
This has been one of my favorite quotes (and books) since I was a teenager. For some reason, I hadn’t thought of it in years, until recently.
"I thought you were really stuck-up and uptight until I met you. " "I thought you were a party-girl until I met you." "You dress like you like George Bush." "You are like Bree Van de Kamp." "Are you a hippie?" "Look at my hipster girlfriend." "You’re so quiet." "You’re such a happy go lucky, free spirit." These are all things that have been said to me. I’m never really sure how I appear to others who don’t know me well; I receive judgements that differ drastically. It shows that you truly can’t judge someone instantly, and you can’t take others’ judgements to heart (if I did, I’d have a pretty intense identify crisis going on). I’m shy at first and it may take a while before I start sending you my favorite (usually inappropriate) pages from Reddit. It may take a while before I tell you that I have an obsession with llama therapy, love my martinis with gin, extra dirty, and that some commercials makes me weep. Each of us view the world through such unique and different lenses; our judgements are clouded and adjusted to fit a vision that is solely ours. Each of us see one another within the context of our own realities.
I have dry humor. I have been diagnosed with the ‘church giggles’ (laughing in inappropriate situations). I’m the first to admit that while I internally love life to a disgusting degree, I can take myself too seriously. My mind is nonstop and I can spin off on certain things. Thankfully, lately I’ve been surrounded with people who remind me to let go. Some are close friends, some are acquaintances and some are simply people that I’ve spoken to once at the grocery store. I’ve been introduced to many new people over the past year, and to parts of old friends that I’d yet to experience. These amazing people remind me to laugh.
While 25 has had its incredibly “adult” moments - many amazing and others far from wonderful reality checks, I do not want to lose that silly, happier go luckier teenager that exists inside somewhere.
Excited giggling on a date, uncontrollable laughter at work meetings every Friday morning, hilariously endearing life-advice from my boss, YouTube videos, texts from friends throughout the day, private messages that are too embarrassing to post on Facebook walls, Skyping with my ridicullusly witty and weird lifelong friend in Canada, reminiscing over dinner, a sleepover with my old roommate who is as honest as a real sister, a Justin Beiber card in the mail (Thanks, J)… there is so much to smile and laugh about.
You can’t be strong until you can see a funny side to things. Strength is beautiful and admirable, but if there is no way for that strength to contract once in awhile, it will break if pushed too hard.
Laugh with me.
You could string a hundred endless days together,
My soul would find no comfort from this pain.
You laugh at my tale? You may be educated
But you haven’t learned to love till you’re insane.
Stop apologizing for who you are and what you want. Not only is it a complete waste of your time and energy, it is the wrong thing to do.