My Lighthouse

 

I’ve been kind of lost for the last six months.

My life went through a drastic change and as I tried to find where I belonged in this new phase, I feel like I lost who I have always been.

When things end, they say it gives way to new beginnings. I thought my new beginning would feel free. Like I could do anything without ever having to worry about how it affects another person. But the thing was, there wasn’t much left to be done with that freedom because the things that controlled me remained. Money, exhaustion and just life, in general.

So I began to cling on to anything that felt new. Maybe a new person, maybe a new role, maybe a new dress or a new passion. Maybe I should focus on myself finally. Or my job. Or maybe I should look for a partner. Maybe not. Maybe I look for the old me. The teenage-me. The care-about-nothing and just-have-fun me. Something had to give because my life had to change drastically. It had to.

But it didn’t. And I couldn’t accept that. I turned frantic in my search for something that replaced what I had lost, not realizing that as I tried to walk towards something else, I was walking away from myself.

So I started to add pressure – to me and to the people around me. I watched others’ lives change and began envying them because mine wasn’t. But it had. It didn’t feel that way because my routine hadn’t necessarily changed. Nothing I did every day changed. It was only an emotional disruption and I didn’t know how to process that. I didn’t know how to point and say, “This is why it’s different. Even if nothing changed around me, my emotions are in disarray. So that’s what I need to focus on.”

I searched for a solution to my emotions in the physical world and failed, consistently. I tried to throw myself into work, but it didn’t feel enough. I tried to balance work with life so I could focus on myself but when the day drew to an end, I was left feeling unsettled again.

Maybe this was my way of grieving. This frantic search for something, anything, that made me feel like my life had gotten better. Maybe this was my way of going through the emotions that come with separating yourself and your life from someone. Maybe this is how we all feel at 27 and it’s nothing but a mid-life crisis. 

The problem was, until three days ago, I didn’t understand any of this. In my frustrations with the world around me, I never realized that perhaps the reason I couldn’t find what I was looking for was because it wasn’t in the real world. 

I haven’t painted for over a year. I’ve given myself a lot of excuses as to why I don’t have the time – to be creative, to draw, to imagine, to clean up after. And on a very busy Sunday, I was just done with the excuses. I always imagined painting a lighthouse, Van Gogh style. There was something about it, standing next to the ocean, alone but surrounded by the beauty of the world that made lighthouses seem so fascinating. They reminded me of the wind against my face, sand between my toes and the sound of the ocean. Far above the land, almost touching the sky, just a little bit shy. Lighthouses reminded me of home.

It’s amazing how art cures the most complex of your problems. As I slowly began painting something I’ve been wanting to for so long, I found what I had been missing. Why I had felt so out of place. What I had been searching for since July.

Myself.

I smiled for the first time in a while. From my heart. It was like standing in the rain, every drop taking you closer to yourself. I painted my happy place, finding it within myself along the way.

Maybe this blog isn’t the right thing to post at this point in my life. Someone recently told me that if I were to get married, blogs with so much honesty cannot exist when they google me. Maybe they’re right.

Maybe you’re not supposed to know how I’m trying to find my place in this world. Maybe we’re all just supposed to pretend we’re put-together and perfectly fine with lives that go through nothing at all. But I’m not going to take this away.

We all go through changes. Some are obvious. Some aren’t. You know they happened, you experience the difference even when you can’t see it. Those may be the most difficult ones to process. 

In the process of readjusting my life to a new reality, I lost myself.

It took me six months of searching and one painting to find. And I know this could happen again. Another change I don’t know how to handle could make me lose sense of who I am.

But when it does, I’ll know better. I’ll know the patterns and the emotions.

I’ll know to breathe deep and close my eyes for just a few seconds.

I’ll know to look for my lighthouse.

If you’re out there reading this and you’re not sure where you’re headed, what you’re doing or why you’re acting a certain way – this is your reminder.

Breathe. Imagine your lighthouse. What does it feel like?

Lighthouse painting

A Person Behind The Face

I am one of the most impatient people I have ever seen. I do not do well with crowds, long lines and people who stand at the cashier for hours and still cannot decide what they want. I especially hate when I have to listen to the same thing or answer the same question for the millionth time. “I already answered it. It’s over. Asking me about it every other day will not change what I’ve said.”

There is absolutely nothing that tests your patience more than the service industry. Incompetent staff, forever on-hold call centers and gossiping employees. It is always a struggle to not yell at a person who cannot do the one job he/she is paid to do. 

I recently went to a store and it was still pretty early in the morning. This staff member walked up to my dad and offered to help – it’s his job. We were probably his first customers for the day and when my dad asked him something and he gave an answer that hinted at an alternative suggestion, my dad snapped. This bothered me.

The lady at the cash register has been paid by a beauty products company to mention two of their products to every customer. So right before she takes money from us, she has to ask “Would you like this deodorant? This cream?” It is her duty. My sister gave her an irritated look and said “No. Just bill this. That’s enough.” It wasn’t nice.

A friend of mine had a problem with his internet connection. He called the person at the call center and screamed over the phone for not giving him the perfect solution. The problem was that the man sitting on the other line was not an engineer and had no idea what to do to get the internet to work again. They have a list of solutions written on a computer screen and if it’s a different problem, they don’t know what to do. This is common knowledge.

These are three instances that have happened over the past month. Three instances that I look down upon. Yes, the man at the store is paid to please my dad. But his day was just starting and the least we could do was not ruin it already. When you start your day by getting yelled at, it really puts you off. 

My sister and I were shopping and I had gotten my things just a few minutes before her. The woman who stood in front of me was there for twenty minutes trying to figure out if she wanted to pick the brown hair clip or the black hair clip. I looked at her and said, “Could you please go stand in the side, decide and come back? You’re holding up the line.” Because it wasn’t the cashier’s fault. The cashier gets paid to stand there and smile at even the most irritating of customers. She can’t tell the woman to walk away. It is not ok to be shouting at that cashier for doing her job.

We often let money cloud our judgement. “I pay the bill, they better treat me like I deserve to be treated.” We forget that the face you see has a person behind it. A person that hurts when you scream at them first thing in the morning. A person who has to repeat the same question about the same products to every customer and get irritated looks just so she/he can make ends meet. 

Someone sent me a private message criticizing my blog recently. It upset me. If she didn’t have something nice to say, she shouldn’t say anything. There is a difference between creative criticism and being mean.

Always remember, money or not, no matter which side of the cash register you’re standing in, you both bleed the same when poked. Yelling over the phone just because you can and writing mean comments because you don’t love it is not healthy or nice. Give out a smile. A genuine one. Don’t feel like it? At least don’t frown.

The best mantra to live by – Never treat someone the way you wouldn’t want to be treated. 

And never justify it with “I’m great ! I have money ! If people like me didn’t buy things, she/he wouldn’t have a  job !”

If people like them didn’t exist, you wouldn’t have someone to yell at. 

It doesn’t matter whether the person on the other side of the computer screen, phone or register is the most stupidest person on the planet, their emotions are still valid. Just like yours.