life from the passenger seat

The past month has been one of the busiest I’ve ever experienced in a while. With the start of a new semester and a second part-time job, I’ve had little free time, which has been eaten up by studying, writing, or falling asleep with my glasses on while watching The West Wing before bed. If I didn’t have my Moleskine daily planner, I would probably be a mess.

Going into 2017 I set a lot of personal goals for myself, and two weeks ago I was able to cross one off of my list. I got my driving permit. Now before you put two and two together and come to the conclusion that I’m twenty years old and don’t have my license yet – consider the fact that not everyone can get their license in high school for a variety of reasons. I’m not going to get too much into the personal details – but a large factor that affected my want/desire to drive was anxiety. For years I have been afraid to drive; more specifically, afraid of screwing up when I did get behind the wheel. Up until recently I would think to myself, Oh my God, how am I expected to be in charge of this huge piece of machinery and not die somehow? Note that this thought was probably inspired by the few times I went to Dave & Buster’s as a kid and failed miserably at the race car simulation games – and by fail miserably, I mean steering my car to the side of the road, crashing it, and watching it explode before my eyes as the screen flashed Game Over.  But I know that driving is going to make my life so much easier, so that ultimately ruled out the anxiety factor. As much as I love walking, and pretending that I’m in an indie film whenever a ray of sun shines down on me on the bus while I have my headphones in……driving is something that I cannot procrastinate any longer.

Two Wednesdays ago I went home after class and took practice tests online for two and a half hours and went to the BMV. An hour later, I came out with a more legitimate form of photo ID. I passed! I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, and the whole way home I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s important to remember that the small victories are worth celebrating too. The girl who took my photo was clearly looking out for me because she made me retake it, and now I can proudly say that flash photography and washed out lighting has worked in my favor. Here’s to more girls having each other’s backs in 2017!

An important takeaway from this past month is the acknowledgement of completely blissful moments – moments where I felt insanely happy and alive, moments where my anxiety wasn’t holding me back. I’ve been in fight-or-flight mode for a long time, and because of that I would always fear something bad happening to me after I did something to enjoy myself, or that if I did something fun it would get in the way of the things I needed to do and set me back somehow. It’s been hard for me to live in the moment and remember that I do have time to achieve my goals. That’s not a good feeling to carry around with you. At some point in the past month or so I let go of that fear and stopped being afraid. I stopped being afraid to completely be myself, and I stopped being afraid to let myself enjoy things. Anxiety planted roots deep inside of me, and rather than trying to rip them out all at once, I had to be patient.

Since I graduated high school it’s been easy to let myself believe that I’m alone, especially in times of turmoil. It’s been easy to feel like that now, since I’m in a pattern of school, work, study, sleep, repeat, and currently healing from losing someone I love. But in the past week I’ve gotten to spend time with two of my best friends, and I’m incredibly thankful. I’m a strong believer in the fact that life isn’t worth living if you don’t have someone to share it with – and no, I don’t mean that nothing is worth experiencing unless you have a significant other – I mean that if you have people who support you, who make you feel beautiful without even saying anything, who remind you of your strength instead of undermining it, who just understand what you’re about – spend as much time with them as possible.

Last Saturday it was a seasonably warm February day in Cleveland (hello again, climate change), so Arbela and I spent the day downtown, taking pictures and exploring our city. It was my first time going out in a month, and it was such a gorgeous day. We went to a shop that makes flowers out of paper, the Cleveland Public Library, and walked around for hours. At the end of golden hour, we were driving on the Shoreway listening to the most recent Lumineers album with the windows down, and it felt so amazing being there, letting go of the things that were on my mind and singing loudly as the sun began to dip down towards Lake Erie.

picmonkey-collage

Yesterday after my last class, I took the bus to my hometown to see my best friend Carla. We became close towards the end of our senior year of high school and since then we’ve watched each other grow and go through a lot. She’s one of the strongest people I know, and it’s comforting to know that we relate to each other on so many levels. Usually when we hang out we run errands, and at some point we  always end up in the home section of Target or Marshall’s daydreaming about our future apartment, lusting over throw pillows and candles. And of course we end up driving around listening to music – last night we cranked up “I Don’t Want to Live Forever” by Zayn & Taylor Swift. I’ll say it once, I’ll say it a million times: one of the best places to be is in the passenger seat of your best friend’s car.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past month. I’ve learned that I’m enough on my own. I’ve learned that I’m more than my anxiety, I’m more than the things I’m scared of. In Legally Blonde, Elle followed Warner to Harvard to win him back, but she ended up becoming herself instead. Being alone isn’t about making yourself better in hopes that you’ll find someone – it’s about making yourself better in order to find yourself. You’re always more than what you’re going through. I saw a picture on Tumblr this week that said:

If you think you’ve peaked, climb a new mountain.

Alright, before I go, a few quick announcements

  • My home page, about page, and where to find me page have all been updated! Shoutout to Arbela for taking the photos you’ll see there! Check out her writing on Medium: https://medium.com/@arbela_ec!
  • I’m going to New York next month to see another good friend of mine, and you best believe I’ll be laying down my MasterCard at the Strand.
  • Shameless self-promotion, but my other love aside from writing is photography, so check out my Instagram  (there are a couple of photos on display in my sidebar). I’m going to start adding photo diary posts here in the future, so be on the look out!

Thank you for reading this far, whoever you all are. My last couple of posts were heavy so I figured it was time to be upbeat. I hope you’re all doing well, and if you have midterms coming up, good luck!

Take care,

Grace

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