When I started the daily journal thing back in 2011, I used the classic Moleskine—hardcover, ruled, black. I kept changing it each year—soft covers, cahiers, plain and dotted pages—but five years later I’ve reverted back to that original notebook style. Because I want to just write, again, simply, and there’s nothing like gorgeous ruled pages to induce that. Only instead of black, I took a leap and chose a bright, bold magenta. Which, I’m sure you know by now, is so not me. The leaping, yes, as well the bright shade of pink. And yet. There’s something to be said for keeping things original, but allowing for some tiny things to change, just because you could. Because perhaps you want to.
I think that could be a metaphor for this particular January.
This month was about sorting myself out. Or at least beginning the process. It was time I understood that self-acceptance didn’t have to mean being passive. That just because I am an observer by default doesn’t mean I should dismiss the option of becoming a participant. There are things that are inherent to who I am, true, and I can’t change them without losing some parts of myself in the process, but I’m also not supposed to just sit idly and take everything as it is. I think I let the dust settle for way too long, if I’m being honest. I am enjoying life and school; I like myself enough; I am content, and comfortable, and totally chill. That’s not wrong, I know, especially since that was what I probably needed after years of constant internal turbulence. But the nagging sense of letting life happen—instead of making it happen—was getting more persisent by the day. Now I also find myself wanting to get up and dance. Kick at the dust. Get dirty. See what happens.
The thing is—I am an incorrigible creature of habit. I live in my routines. I get so attuned to my routines that I get stuck in them. I didn’t think I could ever change that (and I’ve tried, and was tired of trying). But then I noticed something sort of bizarre.
In my four years of college 1.0 (2009-2013), one thing was constant—my room was always a mess. The worst mess. There’d be stuff piled up all over the floor, over the bed, over the desks and shelves—over every available surface, is what I’m saying—and layers of dust covering every bit of it all. Yet I never minded, not in the least. As long as there was still space to squeeze myself into, I didn’t bother tidying up.
But now? If I even see a hair strand on the floor, I’d stop whatever I was doing and clean the entire room. Not just sweep, but also scrub, and mop, and disinfect, and arrange, and basically become an oncoming storm of neat-freakishness. I’m not kidding. I feel like I have to clean my room every day just to stay sane.
I don’t even remember making the transition, to be honest. One day, as I was determinedly dismantling my stand fan to furiously wipe dust off the blades, I just caught myself and had to pause. “Holy mother of cheese. I wasn’t like this before. I hardly cared about the visual and bacterial state of my room, and now I can’t stop caring. What happened? What is this? Adulting?”
So it hit me that, yes, I could probably never be free from routinary functioning, but I guess I can still break habits—after all, I now have affirmation that I am capable of drastic permanent change. I was a constant mess before, and now I’m constantly cleaning mess. Who knew? It took years, of course, and whole lot of growing up, but still. Now I’d really like to create better habits instead of letting myself be buried in the bad ones.
And so January was about, like I said, sorting myself out. Re-evaluation. Choosing which stays, which goes. Which blacks to turn into magentas, basically, while sticking to ruled pages and hardcovers all the same. Sitting down with myself and laying ground rules. Drawing up plans of action, but with the added promise of actually taking action—it’s time to cut back on the overthinking and the wishing and the waiting, and investing more on the running and the grabbing and the doing. And the dancing. Because why not, right? I choose to remain myself as ever, but I’m willing to get some of my tiny tiny atoms unsettled and excited (aka jumping from ground state to a higher energy state. But hopefully with better longevity).
I think the trick is finding the balance between not pressuring myself to reach crazily ambitious goals, but not letting myself off the hook, either. There has to be a degree of patience, of course, because habits don’t change instantly. But I should take no shit, either. I’m capable of doing more. I’m capable of reaching goals. And I’m capable of surprising myself. So what matters is choosing to begin dancing. And then actually dancing.
Being that these days, somehow, I wake up excited and go to bed satisfied, I’d say it’s going pretty okay so far.