Why Today, You Need To “Have a Day”

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

The holiday season is truly upon us with only a few days to Christmas, so I’ve spent the last week working and trying to catch up on sleep. If I take a look at my Fitbit, I’ve definitely succeeded on the sleep end of things but what about the holiday celebrating part?

Well, as a lot of us know by now, the holidays come with a whole lot of expectations. And expectations can be hard to meet sometimes, in the same way kids tend to get so excited about the holidays and the season because it means more gifts and less school. As I’ve gotten older, I haven’t really known what to see coming out of this season or what I really want out of it… Which kind of reminds me of something someone told me yesterday.

Instead of saying “have a good day,” let go of the expectations. It doesn’t have to be good, or beautiful or fun. Just have a day.

The more I look at my life and the way I live it, there are a whole lot of expectations on each of us. Playing sports, going to college, what it’ll be like to meet the parents, liking this kind of person or that one, having kids, etc. There is a lot mapped out for us before we even get a chance to choose the road we want to take and well, such expectations can get in the way.

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Photo by Letizia Bordoni on Unsplash

Because even if you expect yourself to be one way or another, sometimes it doesn’t work out. After all, you can’t fit a circle into a square hole—some things truly aren’t supposed to be the way you want them to.

Don’t expect them to be.

In the same way I took on my junior year, I looked at my first year as an English major and decided that the pieces would fall where they may. I could make Dean’s List, I could also fail all my classes. I could have a fantastic WOW with 16 incredible WOWies that I love (which is what happened), or half of them could have decided not to ever show up and hate me instead. Either way, I went into it all with my arms wide open to take whatever got sent to me and handle it from there.

As it turns out, sometimes that’s the only way to do things. Whether you’re a newbie or you’ve done it a million times, removing the expectations you have of something and taking it from where you are or what you can handle can alleviate the pressure of doing it right or well or however you expect it to go.

Just do it and figure it out as you go.

When it comes to the holidays, the only thing I’m expecting is to have another day. A day hopefully filled with people I love, lots of music, cheesy matching pajamas, and food I look forward to, but nonetheless these are all hopes of what will happen. I expect nothing. All I plan to do is show up and go from there.

If we spend so much time focused on the expectations, they don’t push us forward. All they do is hold us back. There’s a difference between giving yourself the chance to be prepared to meet your goals, and expecting things happen the way you want them to when there really is nothing stopping it all from changing directions. As my parents like to say, don’t count your chickens before they hatch—until something happens for certain, don’t expect it to.

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Photo by Rose Elena on Unsplash

So as we move into the holidays and only too soon, the new year, I wanted to share the reminder that I needed to let go of the status quo I want out of things and instead let them be as they are or find a way to change it myself.

Maybe it’ll make the season a little lighter for you. Happy Holidays everyone and I wish you and those you love all the best. See you Tuesday for Bookworms.

The Art of L o s t Expectation

vyacheslav-beda-68241-unsplash.jpgIt’s finally a rainy day here in SLO where I get to spend (most of) my time indoors, hiding from the horizontal rain and inconsolable winds. As much as I want to say it’s been a productive day that included a nap, it has been quite the opposite. But that’s okay, nap or no nap, I still accomplished some things.

Maybe it’s the idea of turning 20 soon or the lack of control any of us really has, but I’m starting to understand something: It’s not about being immaculate, about getting things right the first time, the second time, or even the 100th time you tell yourself, “okay, last try before I’m giving up.”

No, it’s about painting over the mess, making something beautiful and something worth it, out of the chaos that is this life.

Because I’m sure we all know by now, it comes with a whole lot of mistakes, failed attempts, half done work, and frustrated sighs before trying again. Where would any of us be if we got everything right on the first try– other than immensely talented and most likely too proud, we would all be hopelessly bored.

Success can get you a lot of places, don’t get me wrong; but I think failure can get you bud-helisson-465328farther. Let me tell you why.

Do you remember that one blog post back in October, maybe September, when I told you that I was trying my hand at painting for the second time in my life? The first time was in my junior year of high school for a transformation project in art class and I thought I was doing great… That is until I tried to paint faces on my figures and it all just crashed and burned from there. Trust me, Nick still laughs at my finished product every time I bring it up.

It was terrible.

So that second try? Well that didn’t go too well either. I was so focused on the right lines, the details, and not messing up– after all, I was out of my element and paint doesn’t exactly have erasers– I quit fifteen minutes in. And the un-finished, finished, product? I can attest to this: it also looked pretty terrible.

Hence why when I pulled it out this afternoon, it was hidden behind the ever multiplying books on my bookshelf. Clearly, I was not fond of attempt number 2. Even with my past failures, in my restless need to avoid feeling stuck despite how often I do, I took out that canvas today, grabbed my paints, and  sat down with it all laid out in front of me.

Enter attempt number 3.

I sat there for a while staring at my mistake of a painting and laid my hands on the tubes in gianni-pisanu-416304-unsplashfront of me, running my fingers over the names of each and every color trying to decide what the right direction was to go in. I had to wonder, was there even a right direction anymore once I had tried out all the others?

Now pause right here; I was sitting on the floor looking at something that I made a mess of, all because I kept trying to make it good enough. Sure, its a commonplace idea of being okay with imperfection, but that’s not all I need you to see here.

I want you to see the fear behind the uncertainty, the need to get it right. The desperate reach for validation each of us holds in knowing we could be good enough at something.

Personally, I wanted to stop feeling that pull toward what I thought things should turn out to look like, toward expectation. I did the only thing I could think of to get that little voice in the back of my head– the one telling my that I needed to do this or I should probably do that if I had any hope of it looking good– to stop.

I painted over it.

I put on my headphones, turned the music up to drown out both the immensity of the silence and my own thoughts, and I went to work. My fingers reached for two colors, put them on my plate, and mixed. Swirl, dab, swirl, brush brush brush. Look for a second. Shrug. Pick another one, add it in, swirl, dab, shrug, brush brush brush. Take another peek.

I did this for a while, lost track of time, and it was… Different.

With the music too loud to concentrate on what I was thinking and no real expectation to hold on to, I sat there and watched as the original mistake was altered, changed, revised, and rearranged.

I watched as I let the fear slip away,amaury-salas-324504-unsplash the expectation and the need to succeed. The less I thought about it, the more I enjoyed what my hands wanted to pick.

I let go of being afraid of what might happen in allowing myself to paint outside the lines. Sometimes you have to let the chaos in and ignore the gravity we believe success or perfection has. Nothing truly needs to be perfect the first time, the second time…

You just have to be willing to build each and every try into something that you can appreciate.