Recreating Home

My heart feels full full full, it feels so full.

I am back in Buffalo, NY and I have given more hugs in these past two days than I have in my entire time since leaving it. I’ve had more coffee chats these past two days than I have during my entire two years there. I have missed these people so, so much. And I didn’t even realize it until I found myself back in the All America City (no, not All American, All America).

My question is this – and maybe this isn’t the case for everyone – but why is it that, no matter what, every single time, you never realize how great something is until it’s gone? Buffalo, NY was never the place for me. It was okay, I’d say, maybe a 6 out of 10. And some days it was a 10, some days it was a 2. It really depended on the situation, on my mood. But something that always remained constant is that I knew I wanted to leave. I wanted to go to Europe, I wanted to go to New York City, I wanted to go to literally anywhere else other than Buffalo, NY.

And now, here I am, living in NYC, but longing for what I felt in Buffalo, when I didn’t even realize it. It’s like a warm cup of apple cider on a chilly fall afternoon, filling your entire soul from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, in and out, and all in just one sip.

Even right now, being out of the city, I feel the mark that New York City has imprinted upon me. This morning, when I was on my way to a coffee shop to meet a friend, I cut off an elderly man with a suitcase and a cane, walking right out in front of him. It wasn’t until I was minutes away that I realized that, maybe, I should’ve offered to help.

My time in New York City has been adventurous and flat. It’s been fulfilling in ways, empty in others. And now, I’m back in Buffalo, NY…where everything feels fulfilling…

Yesterday, I hugged one of my friends, one of my favorites from Buffalo, and I wanted to bottle that moment up forever into a little, tiny glass jar. Last night, I was holding hands with another friend across the table, and with just one look, we made each other cry amazing, happy, fulfilled tears. I’m getting emotional thinking about it now.

I suppose my point for the sake of this blog isn’t really a point, but a question. How do we get there? How do we create home? Because I know when I was in Buffalo, figuring out the same exact question, it felt like a never-ending misery. In fact, that’s why I started writing this blog! …to make myself feel better about the state of my life at that not-so-great transitional time.

And now, here I am, in another transitional time, where there is no warm-apple-cider-souls, no lifelong hugs, and no looks-that-make-you-cry friends. Although, I do have to say, I do have a couple really incredible friends in NYC, and they have made things infinitely better.

So, friends, how do you recreate all of these feelings? How do you carry them with you to a new place? How do you recreate home?

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Twentysomething: Young, Bold, and Powerful

Lately, my soul has felt like a flickering flame. I keep blaming it on New York City, but here’s why: New York is an amazing city. But it’s also so completely draining. It’s the weirdest combination of feelings I have ever experienced. On one hand, the chaos of New York City, I feel, is kind of dampening my spirit in so many ways. But on the other hand, there are so many ways to get involved, become active in the world, and represent yourself and your community.

My spirit is a flickering flame. Society views us as “too young,” aka, incompetent. Because we are only twentysomethings, we surely can’t do anything. We have to “climb the ladder,” “work our way up,” “pay our dues.” And because adulting sucks, we are constantly seeing reminders about how people who are rich and famous now had once failed when they were our age. Like that’s supposed to make us feel any better? We get it, not everyone was born to be rich, famous, and successful. But why should our age be a detriment?

I had a conversation with one of my students yesterday. He loves journalism, and is passionate about Muslim-American representation in publications. He was having a hard time finding jobs that combined the two, so I suggested, “Why don’t you just start your own publication?” His eyes bulged out like I had suggested something as ridiculous as ripping off his own arm and making a tuba out of it. His response, “I’m too young.”

So, I’m going to call out some steaming bullshit.

Some of the most powerful changemakers in history were twentysomethings. Or, at least started their careers as twentysomethings that then led them to bigger movements. And while all people can have the passion to fuel change, it really was true when our parents looked at us as children and said, “They are the next generation of leaders.” Well, now we’re here. We are grown. We are the leaders. We need to be. Because otherwise, it’s all old, conservative, white men in power. And especially with this upcoming election, that just can’t be the case anymore.

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the movement to desegregate the public bus systems, he was twenty six years old. Twenty six years old. Two Six. Just to provide some context, I am currently twenty five years old, and I feel like I haven’t done much for the world other than make a few good lattes at Starbucks. Granted, maybe we all can’t be on Dr. King’s level…but at the same time, why not? Why can’t we change the world?

The answer is that we can change the world.

As twentysomethings, we have a unique position in the world because we are the next generation. We are the leaders. We have the power to unite, and always have. Take a look at history, and you will see a consistent theme: most large social/political movements that have advocated for change have all been led by young people. And if not led by young people, the majority of the members have all been young.

Now, it’s important to note – this isn’t to devalue the work of our older friends who advocate and live their lives as activists every day. Their experience, connections, insight is invaluable to younger movements today. However, the intent is to inspire our young people to make positive social change. “Young people,” aka us. The people who think we are too young, not experienced enough, blah blah fill-in-the-blank with any other excuse you may have.

The time is now. We must act now. We have the power to be leaders, and to lead this country, this world, towards positive social change.

Creating the Most Important Foundation: You

Have you ever had someone start a really terrible rumor about you that couldn’t be farther from the truth? And even though it is a complete lie, it still finds a way to dig deep down to your very core and stay there in your mind for weeks and weeks? I know, maybe this sounds more like a middle-school-nightmare blog post, as opposed to a twentysomething experience. But that feeling, I’ve come to find, can still occur in your twentysomethings. And yes, it happened to me this past week. It’s when you think you are doing something great, and someone else thinks you’re doing a not-great job. It’s like coloring with the brightest emerald green crayon, and someone calling it puke green. And unlike a rumor, someone told me directly to my email server that they thought I was doing a puke green job on something.

And as I was journaling about all of this, I realized, I wasn’t upset about the accusation itself. Rather, I was upset because I felt like my personal value system was attacked. I know I am well-spoken and thoughtful in my approach. Those are values that I hold near and dear to my heart. So when someone accuses me of not living a life that aligns with my values, that is what upsets me the most.

BUT.

As I continued on my frenzied typing, punching the keys on the keyboard, I realized something else. I had no basis to be upset, because everyone has a right to their opinion, and my opinion is that I am a person who stands strongly by my values, and lives by them every single day. I know deep down that I live a life of emerald green.

The revelation I had is this: if you have a strong, solid foundation on who you are, other people’s comments will be repelled off of you like water from a rain jacket. But because I feel solid in how I choose to live life with my values, and I’m self-aware enough to know them, I can say, “I hear you, but I don’t agree.” And move on with my life. You see puke green, I shine emerald.

Over the past two or three years, I feel like I’ve done so many value exercises to really solidify my own. But here’s the thing about values – they constantly change. I could do a value exercise every few months and get different answers every time. But for my friends who maybe have never done anything like that before, maybe you could give this a try. Or even if you have done something like this before, you never know what might come of it this time.

  1. Take a look at this list of values
  2. Pick your top 10
  3. Now, pick your top 5

Questions to consider when picking your values:

  1. Are these values that you are currently living in your day-to-day life, or are they values that you want to live in your day-to-day life? 
    • They should be values that you are currently living. The values that you want to choose but know they don’t align can always be considered areas of improvement.
  2. What are the most important aspects of your life?
    • What are the things that you hold near and dear to your heart? Again, these shouldn’t be things you want to be important, but values that you find important currently.
  3. How do you define each one of your values?
    • When looking at the list of values, there are a lot of words that stand out. And a lot of words that may be similar in their definition. But no two are the same – make sure you read and understand the definition of each one.

Values make us who we are. They help us stand strong, even in the face of other people who try to knock you down. Just keep building that values foundation, and keep standing strong.

A Healthy Break

“Michael, I miss your writing!”

Self, I’ve missed my writing.

“Michael, I’ve missed you!”

Self, I’ve missed me, too.

Moving to New York City has been so…I’m not quite sure the words. I’ve described it before as being thrown into a cyclone. It grabs you and hold you down, swirls you around. You love it, you hate it. It’s painful, it’s the best feeling you’ve ever had.

IT’S WEIRD.

And for the past month or so, I haven’t written a single word on this blog. And for that, I apologize. For the first few weeks, life just got in the way. I was busy moving, then unpacking, then working…blah, blah, blah. Excuses. There will always be a reason not to write. But then, I actually started thinking that maybe I didn’t need to blog anymore, because this blog was a way for me to cope with all my twentysomething struggles, and I actually thought that maybe, finally, there were no more twentysomething struggles. Life was great.

HA!

Not writing these past few weeks has only made me realize how many struggles there still are. Like, for example, not writing. Aka, how to ensure time for self-care. How to make time for things you like and care about. How not to forget yourself in the process, although everything else seems to be changing around you.

And then I realized, I was being too hard on myself. There’s nothing wrong with taking a healthy break. A friend of mine I was just talking with has been sick for the past week or so, and was feeling guilty about staying in bed and resting. Nope. Everyone needs a breaks! Literally. But it also works that way, metaphorically.

This move has been so incredibly earth-shaking. Not in a bad way, just in a way that my entire earth, the metaphorical ground I stood on when I first arrived, shook in every which way. New job, new city, new school, new friends, new apartment, new culture. It’s just…all so new. So, in order to get my bearings, I needed a little bit of a break. I needed that metaphorical rest, that break. From what? I’m not sure. It feels like I was taking a break from myself…? But I think I just needed to focus on all the change that was happening in front of me, which unfortunately, meant leaving some things behind. Like writing.

So maybe I’m writing this post to feel better about myself, or maybe because breaks really are a healthy thing. Either way, here are my reasons why everyone should take breaks:

  1. Self-care is self-love
    • A lot of times, people think taking the time you need is considered selfish…that somehow, self-care is self-indulgent. When in fact, it’s creating a space for yourself to love yourself, when maybe you feel like you need it most.
  2. Focus on your priorities 
    • Breaks help to focus your priorities. What’s important to you? What matters to you the most? When I took a break from writing, I knew I missed it. Taking breaks will help you refocus where your goals and priorities are. If you aren’t missing something that much, it’s a sign. Also, it’s okay to focus on other aspects of your life if need be, even if that means neglecting other aspects. As long as you are aware that it’s happening, and have some semblance of a plan to balance everything out again.
  3. Rest and relaxation
    • Some breaks are for no other purpose than to rest and relax. I say this, potentially, because I feel like I desperately need a vacation. But with that said, I don’t have the choice to not come back after a break. I need to work because I need money. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t take small breaks to refuel and recharge yourself.

So, know that it is totally okay to take breaks. However, with that said, it feels amazing to officially declare this writing break as over!

A Clean Slate

How many of you, back in January, set all of these really lofty, ambitious goals for yourself? And now, eight months later, never accomplished those goals?

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It’s okay. We’ve all been there. It’s basically a societal expectation that we will fail at our New Year’s Resolutions. But I am here to deliver good news! The new year is an arbitrary time to set goals for yourself. It’s not any better to set goals on that day than it is during any other day of the year. So, why not now?

Working in higher education, I am constantly reminded that a new year is about to begin. A new academic year. Move-in day, new students, returning students, new classes, new connections. It’s actually surprisingly rejuvenating! But here’s the good news – you don’t have to work in higher education to know what I mean. If you’ve ever been to school, at all, you know what I’m talking about. Even thinking back to elementary school – everything has that new, shiny feel. The crayons, the chalk, the clean white boards, the desks scraped free of gum. It’s a time for a fresh start.

So, I’m translating that into all of us twentysomethings, right now, regardless of whether or not we are in school. But quick side note: PRAISE the fact that I am no longer in school. It feels great! I don’t have to worry about papers or projects or classmates etc. etc. But I digress. Basically, September cues all the first-day-of-school vibes, including a very literal clean slate.

But metaphorically speaking, this is also a great time to start anew. Set new goals for yourself. Start up that project you’ve been thinking about for the past few months. Go out of your comfort zone. Try something new.

These last few days in August symbolize the last few days of summer. And as the sun sets, the summer fades, and the leaves begin to turn, it’s a good reminder that we all need turning, in our own lives. In order to grow and flourish, we need to turn over certain parts of ourselves, just like the leaves, allowing us to turn a new color.

For me, I’m hoping that fall brings some really incredible things. I don’t necessarily feel like I need a “clean slate,” per se, but I’m always open to change for the better. And even if it’s not for the better, I know at least it’s a growth opportunity where I can develop and learn more as a person.

Specifically, in the coming months with my “new year” start, I am hoping to fill my slate with:

  1. Real, genuine, solid friendships
  2. Volunteer opportunities
  3. Outside activities
  4. Love

…in that order.

I’ll elaborate.

  1. Real, genuine, solid friendships
    • I think moving to a new city coincides really well with setting new goals, and following a clean slate. I want to make some new friends! I love all of the friends that I have in the city (they are why I moved here!), but I am also looking to meet new people with general common interests.
  2. Volunteer opportunities
    • Another reason why I moved to NYC. I want to start giving back. I walk around every day, and especially in NYC, my privilege is thrown back in my face. There are so many people here who are living such different lives than me because of the difference in resources. I want to start giving back.
  3. Outside activities
    • Typical advice for a first-year student: “Get involved!” Well, I don’t think that advice changes for twentysomethings. I want to get involved! Maybe join a community chorus, or a gay bowling league (even though I hate bowling). The goal is to find a community outside of work.
  4. Love
    • Don’t we all secretly move to NYC to find love? To find ourselves? Either way, although I’m not actively looking, it would certainly be welcomed.

How are you preparing for your own clean slate?

Forgetting to Blog, Forgetting Yourself

PEOPLE OF THE TWENTYSOMETHING MONTHS PAGE.

I don’t even know if anyone else noticed this, but when I realized today was Sunday, I realized it at 10:47pm, which is exactly 2 hours and 47 minutes after I traditionally post my Sunday blogs. And to be honest, I was actually really upset with myself. I’ve been posting 8pm Sunday blogs every week, without fail, for over a year and a half. So, maybe I consider this a small “failure” because I forgot until just now. But “failure” seems like a strong word. Either way, with any sort of failure or disappointment, I like to think that I can learn and grow from the experience.

Here is what I’m going to take away from forgetting to blog by today at 8pm:

  1. There will always be excuses.
    • And believe me…this week, there are plenty excuses. The first day of RA training was yesterday, and I’ve been totally swept up in trainings, emails, getting to know the staff, etc. And having to work both Saturday and Sunday, I really did forget today was Sunday – it just felt like another weekday! But, there are no excuses. I still feel disappointed that I forgot to post by the specified time.
  2. Better late than never.
    • I could’ve just said, “Oh, it’s too late. I might as well just wait until next Sunday to write again.” But that’s not fair to myself. I made a weekly goal, a commitment, and I want to stick with it. It’s something I truly care about. In my opinion, posting late is better than never posting at all.
  3. Don’t lose yourself.
    • I think you all probably know that this blog means more to me than just words on a screen. It really helped me through a tough time when I was struggling through some adulting things. It validated my experiences the more people read and related to what I was saying.
    • I’ve realized that in moving to NYC, I’ve kind of been forgetting myself a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it here. But pro-tip: it’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of New York City life. I’ve been meeting up with friends almost every night, trying new restaurants every week, walking around different parks, exploring random parts of the city…etc, etc. The downside of that? I kind of lost some of the things about myself that I love the most – writing for fun, reading in a coffee shop, reflection/journaling. I haven’t really done any of that since I’ve been here, and I’m starting to miss those pieces.

Forgetting to write this post by a certain time, for me, was more than just being a few hours late. I don’t think I have a strong enough following to have any people be disappointed that I didn’t post by a certain time (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). But in forgetting, I realized that there is a bigger lesson to be learned – I was starting to lose myself, and I’m hearing the message loud and clear.

If I had been taking the time for myself, continued in writing and reflection, I would not have forgotten about posting. At first, I was having the time of my life with everyone around me (and to some extent, I still very much am having the time of my life). But as I continue my New York City journey, I think it’s important to remember who I am and what I’m doing here. I can already tell it’s easy to get lost in the 8.4 million people who inhabit this city. And I’m just one.

And if I’m not keeping myself accountable for maintaining my own self, who is?

Living Your Fullest Life

 

New York City has a special way about it – maybe some people feel this way about other cities, other places, but this was an experience I had never felt until moving here. New York City makes me want to be my best self – it makes me want to live my best life.

For me, it’s a lot of things I’m not doing. Like, the biggest one probably right now is going to the gym, working out, etc. And I know this isn’t the case, but I feel like everyone in NYC is ripped. Swimmer’s bodies, muscles all over – and although comparison is the thief of joy and I completely agree with that – it’s also something that I want.

Also, I think I have seen more friends these past two weeks than I have in the past two years combined! It’s so amazing. There are all these people around, always, and I thought the introvert in me would hate that, but actually, I think I’m starting to become more of an extrovert…

Anyway, there’s something about the competitive nature of the city (which I can imagine some people absolutely hate), but for me, I absolutely love it. It’s what keeps me motivated. To grow. To challenge myself.

With that, it’s starting to become very clear which areas of my life that I’m excelling in, and which areas I still need to work on. I’m going to refer to my old friend here, the wellness wheel, to help me out.

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I read this as seven areas of life that contribute to my own individual wellness, and a guide of sorts. So, in wanting to live my fullest life, to be my best self, I find myself looking back to this diagram and seeing which areas I’m okay in right now, and which ones I still need to work on. [Disclaimer: this is not finite. Please feel free to add your own sections to the wheel].

For me, I’m going to do a self-check:

  • Emotional
    • Self-care. How are you taking care of yourself? For me, I’m learning the balance of work in NYC, social time, and alone time. It seems to be working out okay so far, so I’ll give this one a thumbs up.
  • Spiritual
    • I don’t necessarily see this as “religious,” although, it could be. I think this refers more to beliefs, values, morals, etc, and how you are living those out. 6/10 for me right now.
  • Financial
    • I just checked my bank statements this morning, and surprisingly, I’m doing okay!! I thought I would have gone bankrupt by now…
  • Environmental
    • I absolutely feel like I am meant to be in New York City right now. It could be my forever place, I feel that strongly about it. So, yes, I am loving the environment here. 10/10.
  • Social
    • Please see above – so many people to see, so many new friends to meet – I love it here, especially for this reason!
  • Physical
    • Yup, still working on this.
  • Intellectual
    • I am leaning a whole lot in my job – but I want to start expanding that! Taking classes, learning new hobbies, etc.

The point of me sharing all of that was not to go on and on about myself. The point is for you to also check yourself – how are you living your best life? How are you fulfilling all of the categories in the wellness wheel? And what ones are missing/not relevant?

In the meantime, here’s a tip about living out the wellness wheel:

  • It’s fluctuating
    • There may be some days where the wheel is out of balance. And that’s okay. You may need to focus your energies on a different section to get it up to par with the rest. It’s exhausting to work on all seven areas at once. For me, I feel good about environment, social, financial, and emotional. And I know the others are still areas of improvement – but, piece by piece, one at a time. Choose your focus area, and go with it!

 

Building a Life – One Piece of Furniture at a Time

So, it’s been one whole week since I’ve moved to New York City!! …and I still can’t believe it. Every time I step outside I’m like, “I live here?!” Yes, I live here.

And although there have been so many exciting moments (which you can read more about here), the one thing I wanted to share in particular on this blog was the STRUGGLE (the struggle was real) with building all my furniture. In total – a bed frame, a book case, a nightstand, a dresser, AND a couch. That is five total pieces of furniture I had to build – mostly by myself because I’m stubborn and don’t like to ask for help – all within the week. And to be honest, I never want to do anything like that ever again. Most everything was fine, with three exceptions:

  1. I threw out my back trying to move my bed frame from the package delivery room on the first floor to my apartment…on the seventeenth floor.
  2. I spent over four hours on said bed frame, trying to assemble it, but ended up being so frustrated that I am essentially now sleeping on a cracked slate of wood.
  3. Oh, and also, the smell of all these wood pieces is like sawdust, which reminds me of those wood shavings that you put inside of a gerbil’s cage. So, now my apartment smells like a gerbil.

But, on the plus side of all of this, I now have 95% of my apartment furnished.

And as I was sweating profusely over one very stubborn drawer hinge, it hit me, building furniture is like building your life. Without taking the time to build it, it’s just going to be an empty room. It may be long, dull, and tedious at times…but let me tell you, it feels so nice to actually sit on a couch and not on the floor. For me, there are different approaches to this.

  1. The Night Stand
    • This was the first piece I put together – it was tiny, and the directions were easy to follow. It took some work, but I didn’t have to exert myself all that much. And then at the end of it, I had a nifty little night stand! These are the things I see as the day-to-day operations. How are you building your life up every day? i.e. How are you interacting with the people you see on a regular basis? What are you doing to practice self-care? etc. The building blocks. IMG_0728
  2. The Bed Frame
    • Literal shambles. The box was too heavy and I threw out my back. Pieces were broken. There were 18,000 steps involved. It took over four hours. I was tired. And by the end of it, I ended up with some janky version of a “bed frame.” But basically, it was turning hundreds of little pieces of wood into one big piece of wood for me to sleep on. The moral of the story is sometimes, it’s not actually worth it. And that’s okay. Because honestly, that is four hours of my life I will never get back, and I would’ve been perfectly happy sleeping on my mattress on the floor. IMG_0737.JPG
  3. The Sofa
    • By this time, I had almost given up on my furniture. I was like, “I’ll just sit on the floor, thanks.” But then I had a gentle nudge from a friend, and we ended up putting the sofa together. Surprisingly, this was the easiest one! It was like an accordion sofa, folded up in a giant box. And when we took it out of the box, we just unfolded it and threw the legs on. Piece of cake. I see this as the reward. After building that pain-in-the-ass bed frame, it was God’s way of saying, “Here you go! Enjoy!” And of course, everything is always better with a friend.  13892045_10153750270502555_6665383943139599097_n.jpg

I’ve learned it’s not about what you’re building, but how you build it. The outlook you have about what you’re doing. That’s what really matters.

 

Learning to Dance in the Changes

This past week has been the harshest round of adulting yet. If I have to give anyone any advice, here it is:

  • Never move again. Ever.
    -OR-
  • Become a nomad and travel the world forever.

Here’s why I am sending this advice.

Moving is literally one of the most stressful things I have ever encountered. Especially in a new city, and especially moving without a car. And it’s not just moving from Place A to Place B. It’s not that simple. Like “woohoo here we go, we’re moving!” Nope, it’s nothing like that. You have to pack up years worth of crap that you never knew you accumulated in the first place, try to squeeze it all into boxes that you know will never fit, load it all up, drive or get to your new place however, and then unload everything, unpack, find a new place for everything….can I be done complaining yet?

Okay, great.

The other piece of advice – become a nomad and travel the world. Because that way, you barely have any belongings, and you never have to pack a day in your life!

So, okay. The nomad thing probably isn’t that realistic. But you get the point – packing, moving, etc. is stressful as hell. I’ve also had to think about buying furniture for the first time ever.

But here’s the thing about moving…hopefully, you are moving to pursue something new. A new job, a new school, a new love, a new life. Regardless of what the purpose is, a new chapter is about to ensue. A new page. A clean slate. A new beginning. And that is the piece that will lift you up, carry you through, and keep you moving forward. Because with every decision in life, there are push factors, and there are pull factors. 

For example, leaving Buffalo, there were a good number of push factors. These are the things that make you want to leave your current situation. And this doesn’t have to be a physical move either. It could be a job ending (yup), not finding your community (mhm), or graduation (check). In Buffalo, there were a lot of push factors. I had come for a very specific reason (to receive my master’s degree). And once I did that, I was done, and it was time to leave. Buffalo was pushing me out.

But now, I am feeling so many pull factors towards New York City. These are the reasons why you want to go someplace new. I have so many friends here, the job already seems like such a good fit, and it’s just…it’s the greatest city in the world!!

Maybe I’m biased because I just graduated, my job just ended, etc., but I feel like this time of year brings about so much transition and change, which, can be a bit unsettling for a lot of my twentysomething friends, and definitely a bit unsettling for myself. But, I’ve learned the only real way to conquer that feeling is to just truly embrace it. It’s like the rain. When you are walking in the pouring rain without an umbrella and four blocks to go, you can either duck under an awning and try to avoid it, still get wet, and watch time pass you by, or you could throw on a smile and dance in the rain.

And now, here I am – in NYC, in a rainstorm – feeling all the pull factors, in an apartment full of boxes, unpacked bags, and unfurnished rooms. But you know what…I couldn’t be happier.

Building Home

This past week, I went to Selma, Alabama for New Way’s Nonviolence and Conflict Reconciliation Training. It was absolutely amazing, and so transformative. We learned about the six principles of nonviolence used by Dr. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement, and I met some of the most incredibly genuine people in my entire life.

While so many things resonated with me over the course of the week, two things really stuck with me.

One of the volunteers in the middle of the week gave me a card. It read, “Home: family, shelter, dwelling place. I know you feel at home here, and it is not because of the place.” And that card could not be more accurate. I felt so completely at home in Selma, but I know it has nothing to do with the place itself. It was the feeling.

The second thing that resonated with me was in talking to a friend of mine in Selma, and she was talking about the “twentysomething” GroupMe that they all had. My ears perked up…I was like, “Hey! I have a blog about that!” But then she told me that they used to call themselves “The Twentysomethings,” but now they call themselves, “The Builders.” The builders of the next generation. The builders of a movement. And I absolutely love that. We are no longer youths, but we aren’t yet the elders. We are the next generation. We are the builders.

And naturally, I started thinking about how those two things are so correlated. So many of us are still looking for “home.” I know I am. And yet, we are still so young, which is so easy to forget, but we have the ability to build our future, to build our next step.

How are you building yours?

For me, I can think of three things.

  1. Family
    • In home, there is family. And there are so many different types of ways to define this. I immediately think of my nuclear blood family, but over the past seven years since I graduated high school (ew omg I can’t believe it’s been that long)…I’ve come to understand family in a more expansive view. It is your blood family, but it’s also your friends, it’s the people that’ll stay up with you until 4am when you’re struggling through something, or those who will make you laugh so hard that you start to cry. That is family.
  2. Community
    • I’ve learned something about myself over the past two years: if I’m not able to find a community around me, then I won’t be able to call that place home. Community is the night and weekend time. It’s the group outside of work. It’s the activities you are involved with. It’s fun, and it’s comforting, and it’s important.
  3. Love
    • And perhaps the most important thing of all…love. Unconditional love. Home is where there is no question of the love that is shared. It’s giving, it’s taking, it’s 100% reciprocal. But I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that this also includes self-love. If I’m not okay with who I am, I’m not able to love others. And nothing will feel like home if inside, I don’t feel like myself. To feel home is to feel love for yourself, to love, and be loved.

So, how are you building your home?