So, Mercury Retrograde Or Just Being Twenty-Something?

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 “We could be bigger and brighter than space

The way that I love, there's no taking my place”

The lines crisscross throughout the country. There’s the friend sitting on a couch in Chicago, wondering if we can still blame Mercury Retrograde for all the unexpected avalanches. There’s the one in route to Madison who knows but needs reminding. Somewhere in Austin sits my friend, but more like family, she’s number two in the line of siblings, somehow I found my way into being Four.

All of us walking unexpected paths and whether we blame it on Mercury Retrograde or the fact that being 20-something is an unusual task, we also need to take credit, because here we are, walking.

I clasp on the bra with the thin strap and see-through fabric. The journey to get to a place where I can look at my body, smile, and feel sexy without needing someone else to say it first, it’s been as long and hard won as the umbrella journey it pours into — the one focused on self-love. My body being my own is a reality I can touch. I can feel the way the jeans have started becoming more like the second skin they were intended to be. I can smile at the reflection in the mirror and at the way the inches on my hair are longer.

It’s harder to look inside and measure how much my mind and heart have grown. It’s harder to take ownership of progress we cannot see, but it doesn’t mean the progress isn’t there.

To love in your twenties is to learn to love yourself first. That kind of self-love requires learning yourself because when the advice is “stay true to yourself” you need to know what and who you’re choosing to stay true to.

We don’t always get it right. The texts get deleted 7 times before you end up where you started and being brave enough to text it on the 8th try. The conversations happen in your head weeks before you have the guts to show up in heart, in person, and in vulnerability. The becoming hurts more than the arriving most times.

But then there’s a moment when you just decide to expect the best instead of the worse and you decide that you have a right to relax into your life instead of constantly exuding energy to ward off the universe.

Our belief that we can control everything is misguided. It’s a need that is anchored in the expectation that if we can control the outside world than the world inside of us will make more sense. I’ve bartered with those chips for long enough to know that I didn’t start finding real peace until I stopped trying to fix everyone else around me and just sat with the fact that my brokenness was real and manageable. I wasn’t a lost case, I was just twenty-five.

We make a habit of seeing everyone else’s problems as solvable and in doing so somehow write off our own realities as irreparable. They are worthy, we are not. We speak it like a mantra at yoga and like a karaoke song a few drinks in. But what we forget is that someone out there is thinking the same exact thing about our realities — to them we’re in reach of solutions, with their own being beyond grasp.

We need to start treating ourselves the way we treat the person we picture, you know, the one we see when we close our eyes and their eyes bring on an instant smile, without even trying. Our brokenness shouldn’t disqualify us from the life we want, instead it should speak to those spaces in us where we should be pouring more love into. It’s where we get the chance to do away with the darkness and let love in. By way of us. By way of letting others in. By way of giving up what is toxic and replacing it with healing.

Later this evening, I’ll be able to look down at my left side, where the bra was pulled taut this morning and where now will rest two words with a period at the end. A reminder that I am my own, a little bit controlling, drowning in good intentions, where sexiness meets delicacy and strength meets vulnerability.

I am my own. Soy mía.

A body that knows hurt at the hands of love, and knows love heals all wounds. A heart that learned that selective ownership is a form of self-punishment. The good with the bad. The good with the bad. There is nothing too heavy, nothing too light. There is just me. Proud and anchored.

In my mind, I slip into a chair across from a mirror and look into big brown eyes — hey, it’s nice to finally meet you.