Musical Temperance: Harbour Lights

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My original intention this week was to write about the difficulty of making friends in your 30s. I’ll save that topic for next time (because let’s face it, I’ll still be socially awkward in two weeks).

{Image Credit: }
{Image Credit: }

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for myself and my loved ones. Some of us have been flailing, some of us caretaking everyone around us, some of us desperately trying to keep it together, and all of us pushing through what seems like an impossible time. On more than one occasion I’ve been amazed by our resilience and capacity to not only endure, but bravely navigate through the dense fog in our lives.

I had a heavy conversation with one of my best friends yesterday about the strange direction our lives have taken in the past few years and our sincere appreciation for each other’s support. In high school she gave me equal doses of love and tough love whenever I thought my world was going to end (translation: getting dumped) and now we’ve had the beautiful and sad opportunity to sit with each other through identity altering grief.

Many of us mistakenly believe that growing up is solely measured by our ability (or inability) to be self-sufficient. We feel accomplished when we can set our bills to autopay without fear we’ll overdraw or when we can work through life’s curveballs on our own.

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I believe, however, adulthood is additionally marked by our ability and willingness to accept and offer support for ourselves and those around us. Most of us struggle with one or the other (or none if you are a well-adjusted human being, unlike myself). For me personally, I try to always be the first person to offer support to my friends and family and yet am often the last person to accept it. I am that stubborn, sweaty idiot attempting to carry 15 bags of groceries up the stairs because I swear I can do it all by myself, I don’t need help, even though you just offered and one of the bags has split open and spilled out boxes of Eggo waffles out in front of you, I don’t need help.

In order to offer and accept support, we first need confidence in the space we hold in our relationships. We cannot give without knowing what we have and likewise cannot ask for help without knowing what we need. There’s much more room here than we first assume and as we settle into ourselves, we may be surprised by the capacity of our emotional expanse and its ability to house our struggle, our desire to love and help, and even our loneliness.

This week my playlist is a bit conflicted, much like me. It’s true, I’m still struggling with the desire to “go it alone” and save everyone. However, in quiet moments like these, I realize how much I appreciate the connectedness between people deliberately sharing their spaces together. At first glance, my choice in songs this week may seem disjointed. The crunch of Brittany Howard’s guitar seems to stand out above the quiet four-part harmony from Mumford & Sons. When this playlist is listened to in its entirety, however, these messages begin to form a cohesive story. We all want to be recognized as our own fully formed narrative. Not only do we desire to see these beautiful connections in the world, but we want to be part of it.

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Kristel is a sometimes angsty writer from Hawaii who now lives in Los Angeles, CA. She claims she’s a Marketing Director at a web design agency, but she spends most of her day in front of the computer while wearing pajamas.

Musical Temperance is her small attempt at creating the perfect soundtrack to help her survive an extended quarter-life crisis. Additional musings and playlists can be found at kristelyoneda.com.

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Musical Temperance: So This is the New Year

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: MT1: So This is the New Year 

BannerAround now is when I remember I made New Year’s resolutions back in December of the previous year.

This realization always happens at the most inopportune time, like while I was at the grocery store the other day taking a mental inventory of my freezer and debating how many containers of Haagen-Dazs I could comfortably fit in there (the answer: five, but only if I take out my bottle of vodka). As I was reaching for a chilly pint of caloric sin, I remembered I vowed to eat less junk food in 2015.

Before I knew it, my other forgotten resolutions began spilling out of my head and into my shopping cart: eat healthier, complete my novel, become financially responsible, buy a new car, apply to grad school, pint sized reminders of my failure piling up in front of me.

I drove home in a panic, taking frantic chomps of my Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream without even using a spoon, overwhelmed by the New Year’s resolutions I had forgotten and subsequently broken (including one I always make to eat better). Are all of my resolutions equally important? No, not particularly. But in these moments, I find myself asking the same question over and over again: when will I start feeling like an adult?

I thought I was having some kind of arrested development, but my therapist affectionately called my restless panic a “quarter-life crisis.” The term, originally coined by Abby Wilner, was used to describe her post-college anxiety after she moved back home and had no idea what do with her life. Like Wilner, I strutted around my college campus like a pseudo-adult, high on the possibility that I would change the world, certain that my future would be printed on the back of my diploma like a treasure map. Nobody told us we needed to reshape our childhood dreams into practical goals (or maybe they did and we just weren’t listening). Many of us felt ill-prepared for adulthood, as if thrown out of a plane with a knapsack instead of a parachute.

Growing up, I dreamt of becoming a famous violin player and novelist. I’m not sure why I thought those two careers were related, but I remember the blurry vision I had of my taller self, playing beautifully enough to bring people to tears and reading excerpts from my novel in packed bookstores. At 31, I can assure you that I am neither of those things. In fact, by this age I was confident I’d be successful, married, possibly famous, and writing bestselling novels in a home office with a large picture window. Many of my closest friends are now parents or have professions that make me feel woefully unaccomplished. I sometimes feel like I’m playing catch up with them, hoping there will be some definitive moment where I feel like I’ve successfully transitioned into adulthood too.

I am beginning to think the first step into adulthood is less apparent than we imagined growing up. Am I a grown up when I pay for my bills instead of purchasing a new pair of shoes? Am I considered an adult when I live in a house instead of an apartment? Am I a grown up when I stop eating pop tarts for breakfast? Perhaps only I am able to decide.

We have the power to assign meaning to the personal milestones in our lives. These badges of honor should be not be defined by the arbitrary expectations set by society, but rather by the ever changing personal goals we create for ourselves. We may not fulfill every resolution we make this year and that’s okay. We’re meant to be in this chaotic limbo between adolescence and adulthood. We’re meant to flounder in our new freedom and responsibilities because without this struggle, there would be no growth.

I haven’t become a famous violin player or novelist yet (although, I’m still holding out for the latter), but it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about who I want to be. Even if we don’t end up becoming the adults we originally envisioned ourselves as, our fantasies dare us to dream bigger than the realities we know. These experiences are what steer us toward who we are, filling in the essential markers in our journey, and further guiding us on the road ahead.

Instead of lamenting over what we’ve left unfinished, let’s take a moment to appreciate what we’ve accomplished so far. Let’s celebrate our steps and missteps. As far as I’m concerned, this marks the beginning of 2015. Our slate isn’t clean, but we don’t need it to be.

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1FzwXo0}
{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1FzwXo0}

So let’s continue to be dreamers and resolution makers. Let’s be idealists and also remember we have the capacity to make great strides in our lives. As Gloria Steinem once wrote, “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: MT1: So This is the New Year 

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Kristel is a sometimes angsty writer from Hawaii who now lives in Los Angeles, CA. She claims she’s a Marketing Director at web design agency, but she spends most of her day in front of the computer while wearing pajamas.

Musical Temperance is her small attempt at creating the perfect soundtrack to help her survive an extended quarter-life crisis. Additional musings and playlists can be found at kristelyoneda.com.

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