This post was inspired by a similar post written by Dee Bordenkircher for Season 4 of Stratejoy’s guest bloggers. If you haven’t checked out Stratejoy yet, I so encourage you to go and do that like, right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. ♡
First, gather the ingredients | brown hair, brown eyes, skin that burns before going brown too. A handful of whatever you would typically add to a “mixed plate” in Hawai’i. Big, loving family, fondness for romance novels, self-deprecating humor, and indie folk songs played in minor chords. Extra large portion of introversion and driving need to be in the country. Insatiable lust for travel, deep conversations and Diet Coke. Pinch of stubbornness, to taste.
You’ll need a solid — though misaligned — dish, and then a secondary, more free-form way to hold everything together once the first dish breaks. Always be prepared.
Start by building a delicious foundation | A small, rural community on an island in the middle of the sea. Add family trips to the mountains, sunny days at the beach, trade winds, country music and reggae. Find hidden streams and waterfalls with your cousins in the summer, and go fishing with your dad as a kid. Play with your sisters, get loved on by your parents and grandparents.
Mix until somewhat smooth. When it’s mixed thoroughly, throw in boarding school at age 12. Be careful here — your mixture is going to get tough at first, but will combine completely the more you work it.
Call your mom nightly for the first six months you’re away at school, telling her that you love her and hate her in the same breath. Know only that you miss her, you miss your dad and your sisters and your grandparents. You miss your bedroom and your island, and you don’t fit in here. You don’t want to fit in here. Stick it out, because you have no choice. Grow up quickly, because you have to. Realize how incredibly lucky you are, and how much of a sacrifice your family made sending you away.
Make friends, lose friends, and fall into a deep depression. Get help, struggle through it, and meet your best friends. Think about college and traveling for the first time. Feel grateful as opportunities are laid at your feet.
Your ingredients are looking good at this point. You’re about to make it better.
Next, add college | Leave Hawai’i for Washington state and put a label on the bowl that simply states, ADVENTURE. Navigate this new world with wide eyes and a passion for everything. Fall in love with Seattle and seasons and especially the fall because it feels like you feel — crisp and cozy and full of joy and community. Get drunk with your friends at football games and house parties, take courses in Philosophy and Human Rights (regret taking that Intro to Logic class sophomore year). Kiss boys (and regret some of them too). Find out who God is to you, rather than who He is to your dad or grandmother. Find a major no one understands and declare it because questions of identity speak to something deep inside you.
Apply to study abroad in Northern Ireland without telling anyone. Get accepted and have your life changed. Apply to study abroad again, this time in New Zealand. Go, meet the guy of your dreams, and really have your life changed.
Now that everything’s really come together, decide to go to law school | Add a heaping dose of what has up to this point been a fairly quiet voice inside you: Fear. Then add a little more. Taste your mixture. Does it taste a little off? A little overwhelmed by all that fear? Then you’re right on track. Tell yourself you chose law school because it’s your passion while ignoring the truth: it’s a secure career, it’ll make your family proud, it feels like the adult thing to do, it delayed having to figure out what else was out there, and getting in made you feel like you were good enough. Spend everyday of the next three years wondering why don’t feel anything but not good enough.
Find that sturdy dish you set aside earlier and begin pouring your mixture into it. It’ll overflow — that’s to be expected — but stuff it in there anyway. If you need to (and you’ll need to), dump half of your mixture out into a side dish to figure out what to do with later.
Crank up the heat and be careful not to touch what your mixture has become — the soft center and fragile crust could collapse at any second.
Survive each day by enveloping yourself in the guy who loves you despite how sad you are, who reminds you of who you were before you let fear unbalance the entire dish. Save your sanity by heading to the mountains as much as possible. Lose yourself, and don’t even realize it until it’s almost over.
Graduate, blow off the Bar, get a job that says nothing to your soul because now your confidence is shot and you no longer know what you want or who you are, but you’ve got rent to pay and you’re up to your eyeballs in student loans. Find yourself in the midst of a quarterlife crisis and a depression that leaves you feeling small and shaky every morning.
Hear something shatter | That sturdy dish you worked so hard to fit your mixture into has broken, and everything seems to be spilling out everywhere. But don’t worry, you set some of your mixture aside a little earlier.
Grab the old mixture and find a new bowl to put it in. A free-form bowl. One that may not be quite as sturdy, quite as traditional, but you kinda maybe like that about it. Pour your mixture in and start fresh by trying to water down that overwhelming taste of fear.
Find a therapist and begin learning how to deal with your shit, to manage your depression, to recognize your ebbs and flows. To find strength in what you thought were broken places. Find a life coaching course and dive headfirst and arms wide open into personal development. Really think about where things went wrong, what your values are, why everything comes back to your skewed ideas of self-worth. Re-learn your passions. Journal. Create vision boards for every season of life and a playlist for every mood. Admit what your dream life looks like, then admit that the way you’re currently living is not it.
That taste is starting to balance out, but it’s still missing something.
Add a touch a risk — just a little zest of defiance in the face of your fear — and quit your job.
Fill your new life with more people who are still trying to figure it out too. Who have dreams they’re trying to realize, and who encourage you to go after your own. Who are passionate about food, family, politics, culture, social justice, Creative Nights, feminism, sex, sunny summer days spent poolside, travel, Friday night backyard dinners, and each other. Pay more attention to your relationship. Fix what got damaged there when things got messy. Fall in love with him — that boy you met on a trip to New Zealand nearly a decade ago — all over again, even deeper than before. Marry him.
Start to understand that life is not one way or the other — it’s not all carefree joy, not all worry and sadness. It’s shades of blues and grays and reds and yellows. Learn to stop letting fear (of failure, of feeling) make your decisions, to experience every emotion in its entirety as it comes, and to process them in healthy ways. Recognize every dream as it comes too, and be brave enough to name them, to declare them. Start a blog to help you express all of it — the beauty, the rawness, your journey to live simply, but fully.
Blend, blend, blend.
Take a step back. Look at what you’ve made and realize that it is in no way finished. There’s still so much more to add, so many ways it could go awry and turn out perfectly imperfect.
Smile, because that’s sort of the point, right?
Grab your free-form bowl and keep mixing.