Reflecting Just A Bit

It’s Friday morning and I had set my alarm to go off at 7:30 so as to not waste too much time in bed before having to march off to work.  For some reason, I managed to hit the snooze button every ten minutes for the next hour and found myself laying in bed still at 8:30.  It’s now only a little past nine but I was concerned about the melancholy mood I awoke with.  Yesterday, I spent practically the entire day by myself but immersed in Spanish.  I read in Spanish, I watched a movie in Spanish, and I even babbled on an on to myself both in my apartment and in the car in Spanish.  With every passing day, I feel as if I need to force myself to use Spanish more and more as I now only have 76 days before I leave for Spain, however when I woke up this morning I suddenly felt like I needed to step back and take a short break from Spanish.  The truth is, I am probably about as ready as I can be for this trip.  At this point, I am at a level of speaking and understanding that should allow me to get by with very few problems and while that doesn’t mean I can stop practicing, I need to stop worrying that if I write in my English blog instead of my Spanish blog I will suddenly fall back a level or two.  I haven’t written here in a while and I think it would be therapeutic to get some of my thoughts and feelings out in English before going on my adventure across the sea.

It’s Friday the 13th, which means nothing to me, as I am not very superstitious, however it reminds me that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  Knowing this, it is one of the few instances throughout the year I am fairly satisfied to be single.  I don’t have to spend money on flowers or candy and there is no pressure to go to some fancy restaurant.  In fact, tomorrow I will probably grab a coffee with a friend and eat something simple at home.  No, Valentine’s Day does not mean anything to me in the sense of relationships, however it does take me back about a year when I decided to make some changes in my life.  Let’s go back.

Last year around this time I was attempting in vain to court a young woman I had always found attractive.  I spent a good deal of time pacing around my apartment, thinking up ways I could win her heart, or at the very least, take her out for coffee.  I had been rejected once before by her, but I had hopes perhaps I could change her mind.  It was during this time of my life that I had a lot of emotions running through my head.  I was lonely, yes, but also concerned I would never accomplish anything in my life.  Her rejection lead me to start thinking about how empty and meaningless my life was becoming.  I had the same routine worked out week after week and to the outside world, this was fine.  My boss loved knowing I would never change, never deviate from my routine.  He could count on me to be there on the most miserable days of the week and he never had to worry about covering my shifts.  I would go to the gym, but with lackluster effort and even when I went out with my friends, I would often return home feeling bad about myself although I should have been happy to have had spent time with my friends.  I couldn’t explain the way I was feeling, but it was getting worse and although I didn’t see it right away, it was getting dangerous.  So what happened?  I woke up.

On one particular afternoon, I had come home from work and was lying around my apartment.  I was in a foul mood and had had enough of the world.  Instead of going to the gym, I fell asleep on my couch.  Then my phone rang.  I was still a little groggy, and I looked at it and saw it was one of my friends.  We had talked about hanging out a little, but as the phone rang, I contemplated not answering.  Had I not answered, I would have stumbled from my couch to my bed in the other room, gone to sleep at six in the afternoon, and woke up the next day in the same foul mood, but just as it was about to go to voice-mail, I answered it.  My friend asked if he could come by.  We would have a coffee, watch some TV, and just talk for a while.  I told him to come over.  He doesn’t know this, but after I hung up and before he arrived, I fell apart.  For the first time in years I started to cry and I couldn’t control it.  I got up and walked around my apartment trying to stop it, but I couldn’t.  I went into the bathroom, buried my face in a towel and screamed at myself, “Stop it!” but I was yelling stop not to stop crying, but to stop living the way I had been living for so long.  It was over.  It had to stop.  If I didn’t change, I knew only bad things could come of it.  I pulled myself together, washed my face and straightened up my clothes and when my friend came over, we just talked for a long time.  When he got up to leave I thanked him, and then after he left, I sent him a text thanking him again.  He doesn’t know this, but having someone there with me that night saved me.  He probably still doesn’t know how important it was that he came over that night.  As far as my Valentine’s Day rejection, I thank her now for that.  In all honesty, I thank her for helping me reach the bottom because it was there, at the bottom that I finally saw what was happening to me, and it was there at the bottom that I decided I would climb back up and never let myself slip that far down again.  I hold no ill will against her.  Maybe she and I could have had something together maybe not, but I decided at that moment I would no longer let other people determine my happiness. Happiness is a state of living, not just a state of mind.  I had had moments of happiness, but I was living in a state of sadness.  I became determined to be happy with my life and to find reasons to smile.  I would eliminate those who brought negative emotions into my world, and for those people I simply couldn’t avoid, I would tell myself it wasn’t worth getting upset over them.

It was during the next few days that I wrote my final proposal for my trip.  It was during this period of rebirth that I decided this was something I had to do for myself.  While the purpose that I talk about is spending a month without using English, the greater purpose is to see who I really am as a person.  Can I put myself out there in the world and be someone?  Can I spend a month among people of a different culture and find my way?  It’s not about being afraid to fly, it’s about being afraid to be out of my social bubble.  It’s about not being able to run home, but knowing that home will be there when I get back.  It’s about knowing my friends and family, the true friends I have, will be there when I return and that when I get back, while I may be a little different, I’ll still be the same and somehow my life will go on.  I used to worry I would lose my job and from there my life would spiral out of control, but I have to realize that I have a strong network of connections and there is life outside of McDonald’s.

I spent the better part of 2014 trying to be happy and trying to be more confident in who I am.  Sure, there were moments of anger, but I learned to tell myself to relax and realize it’s not worth it to get upset all the time.  Things will work themselves out.  September brought about the biggest challenge of my life as my mother told the family she had been diagnosed with skin cancer, but here we are, six months later, and she is cancer free.  She has gone through a lot and the entire family has struggled during these months, but we survived and we carried on.  I have had my on moments of fear and doubt when it comes to my life and this trip, but as I look at the calendar and see how close it is getting, I know there is no turning back and unlike so many other things in my life that I have run away from I am running full speed ahead on this adventure and I can’t wait to get there.

I of course have to thank my friend Pattie for all the encouragement she has given me.  If it weren’t for her, this trip would still be at the very least in the planning stages, as my original intention was to go in May of 2016.  All things considered, I bet I would have given up on the idea entirely by now were it not for her.  She has inspired me either directly or through the things she has said and done throughout her life.  She has faced challenges and struggles and come out on top time and time again and it has a lot to do with maintaining a positive attitude.  No, we can’t smile all the time, and certainly there will be moments of pain and sadness but the important thing is to remember to be happy and thankful for what you have and know that while never perfect, life will go on.  Sometimes I need to tell myself this as I look around and see I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, a job to go to and a car to get me there everyday.  Sometimes I let my life become a little mundane, but I can’t complain too much, and upon returning from Spain, I hope to find the inspiration to do many more exciting things that maybe I wouldn’t have been inspired to do a year or two ago.

I’m still single and unless something very out of the ordinary happens to me, I’ll probably stay that way, but I have found that it doesn’t take a girlfriend or a wife to have a happy life.  We’re still early in 2015 and I still hope to accomplish a lot of things.  May is going to change me, but the fact is, I have already been changed by all of this.  I can’t do anything crazy before I leave, but maybe in June I can start to make things interesting.  I suppose we shall see won’t we?  So that’s all for now.  It’s been therapeutic.  Until next time.

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~ by James on February 13, 2015.

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