“6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person” is making the timely rounds on Facebook, and while it’s apparently been around since 2012 it’s actually my first time seeing it. And the timing could not be better.
My family left last night after an incredible, whirlwindy week in Abu Dhabi and so I find myself, on December 30, cleaning the house in my pajamas at noon and realizing that we have two days left of 2015. I put a lot of stock in turning points throughout the year that cause reflective pauses: New Years, my birthday, our anniversaries (I know once you’re married you’re supposed to go with that one, but I still have very warm feelings of that day in early 2011 when we started officially dating), and my expat anniversary which is coming up on two years abroad this February. I think about where I was, what my life was life, what desires and unfulfilled needs were floating around, what mistakes I was making, and then I think about where I am “now,” or on whichever turning point is about to occur.
I don’t necessarily make New Years resolutions or birthday resolutions, but I do pay close attention to momentum. And this year’s New Year’s has a LOT of momentum behind it.
This article reminds me that with all of these anniversaries I really should be measuring outputs. As dry as that sounds, it’s true. The best years, the happiest years, were ones with accomplishments. A new job, a new physical feat like a marathon, another degree or certification, exciting trips, a wedding, a big move…anything that feels like it is propelling me forward in some way. The world really does want to see what it is you are planning to put out there, and it has to go beyond a #nailedit Instagram photo and start to manifest in actuality.
This article is screaming at me as a writer to get my shit together. Last September, I did a 10-day meditation challenge that kind of morphed into daily morning journaling. I hated meditation, it was torturous for me. I fidgeted, I panicked, I felt like I was strapped into my chair with my chaotic thoughts. But writing flushed all of that out.
This is nothing new – Julia Cameron’s work in The Artist’s Way purports that “Morning Pages” are the “bedrock tool of a creative recovery.” I find this to be 100% true. I started this daily morning journaling in September after hosting a vision boarding party (which I’ll follow up with later in another post) and launching the meditation challenge. Shortly thereafter, I wound up with my first freelance piece in six years – a feature, nonetheless. I’ve recently started blogging again after a long absence, and find that I actually look forward to it. All of these practices are part of this “bedrock” that I am laying in hopes of building a body of work and advancing the writing aspect of my career.
Wong’s truths are harsh, indeed, especially for this girl who comes from the roots of the participation trophy generation. We do like to think that so much of our self worth is caught up in “who we are,” but I appreciate Wong’s view that that stuff is really only “the metaphorical dirt from which your fruit grows.” I’ve spent years cultivating this dirt and now it’s time to grow some damn fruit.
I know from my daylight job that it can take years of hard work – often grunt work – to have anything to show for your efforts but I’ve also learned that none of it is wasted time. As long as you’re focused and sincere, you will see flowers. Even if they aren’t the flowers you originally intended to grow, they’re the ones that you get. I am fully ok with saying that this body of writing work I’m building is probably not going to yield any finished product anytime soon, but just the fact that I’m building it and chipping away at it is producing something.
Which is better than nothing. Wong got a nice hit to my gut with this:
“How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made (TV, music, video games, websites) versus making your own? Only one of those adds to your value as a human being.”
My Netflix/Hulu/Amazon binge habit just stumbled into the room, ladies and gentlemen.
So thank you, Wong, for so eloquently pointing out a bunch of things that have been percolating but hadn’t quite stitched themselves together logically. At this point in my life, I feel like I have all of the pieces and now it’s time to sit down – butt in chair – and start putting them together.
For now, I’m going to finish cleaning the flat because this kind of mindless productivity makes me feel better about myself. And then I’m going to do a few hours of schoolwork, because I also measure my self-worth in certifications for work. But all the while, I’m going to start thinking about my actions and pasttimes with this in mind: is it helping me to grow fruit?