Folding a Fitted Sheet

When you know a thing, say that you know it; when you do not know a thing, admit that you do not know it. That is knowledge.

-Confucius

This week, as I was endlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed on the train, I came across a picture that actually captured my interest. It wasn’t a random selfie of someone I barely know, or a picture of rooftop drinks, reminding me that I have little to no social life, or even a picture of New York City, reminding me that I should probably get up off my couch.

No, it was a picture of a quote. About a fitted bed sheet.

IMG_5350(photo cred: @mumfordnosonz)

It made me stop my mindless scrolling. Because, well, DAMN! I’ve never seen a more factual statement about being an adult. Or honestly, about a fitted sheet. Honestly, who the hell knows how to fold a fitted sheet, anyway?

I thought about all the stages of my life, of adulthood, that I’ve already lived. When I moved away for college, I thought I was such an adult. And in my defense, it was the most adult I had ever been up until that point. But now, I look back and laugh at that thought, because I was living in a dorm where someone else was paid to take out my trash, I had a full meal plan, and my biggest worry was getting to class on time, which, was maybe a five minute walk from my dorm. I guess I equate “adult” with “independence.” But now, I look at my “adult” life. The older twentysomething adult life. And I see real responsibilities. I see bills, financial debts, stresses at work, expensive living costs…and the list goes on, am I right?

But I wonder, when I’m fifty, will I look back on this time in my twentysomething life and laugh at the thoughts, at the stresses, that I feel now? Will I wish that I was more appreciative of a simpler life?

And although I am still many years away from being a parent, I feel like it’s the same idea. You can read as many parenting books as you’d like, but there’s not one correct way to be a parent. You just have to do the best you can do, and hope that your kid doesn’t turn out to be a melon head. And if they do, I’m sure you’d still love and support them anyway.

It’s a lot like being an adult. I can read (or write) as many twentysomething blogs as I want, but there still isn’t one “correct” way on how to live your life, on how to be an adult. And Lord knows I’m just trying to do my best, hoping that I won’t screw over my future self. Like folding a fitted sheet, I’m sure some people really are knowledgeable in that art. As for my own technique, I never have to worry about that, because I only have one set of sheets. So my fitted sheet is either wrapped around my mattress, or it’s in the washer. No folding necessary. 🙂

And although the fitted sheet quote is slightly terrifying – just imagine, all “adults” are just pretend-adults who have no freaking clue what they are doing – it’s also incredibly liberating. As in, I’m not the only one who still feels like a child playing dress up and trying to catch up with the rest of the adult world?! I’m not the only one who gets confused about life sometimes? There are other people who also don’t really know how to be an adult? Awesome! That’s amazing!

But I think as we continue to learn, we can continue to share bits of information and knowledge with other pretend-adults, so we can all learn something from each other. We are all mini-experts at something, but will never know everything. We continue to learn, grow, and develop into who we are.

And maybe, just maybe, one day I will learn how to fold a fitted sheet.

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Pura Vida: Lessons from Costa Rica

Mom Text I received this week: “Dad is giggling at the thought of u with a hammer lol”
Translation, Mom Text to English: “Dad is laughing at the idea of you with a hammer because you are probably the least handy person we know! laughing out loud!”
This week, I spent my time in Quepos, Costa Rica, on an alternative spring break trip, volunteering with ten students and a co-staff advisor. It sounds luxurious – soaking up the sun in Costa Rica, maybe with a nice piña colada – but even with the gorgeous views and blue ocean, it was far from a resort.
Every day, we walked 20 minutes to a boat, took the boat across the river, and then walked another 5 minutes just to get the the Community Center where we were volunteering – and that was just one way! The Community Center is the local place where kids from the community come for after-school activities and English lessons. Our jobs for the week revolved around social and community development. In other words, we painted new murals, planted flowers, and built new hut structures so the kids would have shaded areas to play outside…which is necessary, since in Costa Rica, the sun can easily burn through your skin.

And since gender roles are still rampant in Costa Rica, the women on the trip painted and planted, while the men on the trip were required to lift literal tree trunks and dig two-foot holes for each trunk-post.

holes.gif
So, although I’m sure there were women that were stronger than me on this trip, I found myself with a shovel, a machete, and yes dad, even a hammer.
The end result?
THIS:
Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 6.29.09 AM.png
WE BUILT THIS. And yes, I am proud!
(We built two of these actually, in just two mornings, I might add…)
If anything, Costa Rica has taught me that I am more capable than I would’ve ever imagined. Back in New York, I suppose I live a relatively pampered life: I go to my stable job with the best view of Washington Square Park, I eat at delicious restaurants, I go home to my (relatively) spacious apartment, I see Broadway shows, I get pedicures. Life is good in New York City.
Yet, with that, I’ve realized that I haven’t exactly been challenging myself while I’ve been there. At first, everything was new, everything was a challenge, but then I became comfortable, and everything plateaued. How am I pushing myself to reach beyond my current capabilities?
I’ve thought about taking piano lessons again, or signing up for Italian classes, or joining a book club or a writing group – I’ve thought about all these opportunities, all these ways to challenge myself – but I’ve never taken part in any them. I guess I’d chalk it up to fear. Fear of failure, fear of not fitting in, fear of unhappiness, regardless of trying.
In Costa Rica, I didn’t have the chance to experience fear in the same way. They said, “You’re building this hut!” I said, “Um, are you sure about that?” They said, “Here’s a hammer, a machete, and literal tree trunks. Good luck!” And I walked away from that experience building not only one, but TWO shaded structures that will make a lasting, positive impact on the community. I surprised myself!
I also learned the value of a team. With me, there were three other students who were all working just as hard, and we were all able to figure it out together.
In Costa Rica, they say “Pura Vida.” Literally, it translates into “Pure Life.” It’s an expression that can be used for everything. Similar expressions might be, “It’s all good,” “Don’t worry be happy,” or “No worries.”
For me, it has put everything in perspective. Because in my opinion, I don’t think that everyone in Costa Rica is easily living their best life, constantly throwing out Pura Vidas. But for them, I think it’s a way to focus on the bigger picture. As in, every inch of my body may be sunburnt, I was bitten by a hundred ants, and I’m in a constant state of sweat, but all in all, in the greater picture of the world, all is good.
Pura Vida.

Learning to Breathe

I’m twenty-seven years old, and I’m just learning how to breathe.

This week has been quite chaotic – more than usual. Have you ever had a week where all of a sudden, 1,042 things had to be accomplished by 5:00pm on Friday? Well, that was me this week, although, I didn’t quite make it – I was in the office sending emails until 10:00pm last week. I stopped only when I realized that the people receiving those emails from me on a Friday evening would think that I had nothing better to do with my time, my life. Hello? Loser city.

You know the expression, “Wearing your heart on your sleeve?” Yeah, that’s like me, except I tend to wear my stress on my sleeve. This week, I’ve gotten the whole range of “Michael, are you okay?” “Is there anything you want to talk about?” and the more direct, “What’s the matter with you today?” And no, I’m not sad, I’m not upset…I’m stressed! And of course, when you go an entire day without stopping to take a deep breath (literally), of course you are going to seem frazzled and chaotic.

My favorite new look is sporting the twentysomething Einstein hair-do. My pomade seems to come undone when I’m stressed, and I’m just left with a mess of frizzy strands flying into the air. Or, maybe I just need a stronger hold hair product (does anyone have any recommendations…?)

But, all is well. I’ve learned how to breathe again.

And if you really think about it, how many times did you take a deep breath today? And if you have to think about it, you’re not doing it enough. Breath is the sustenance of life, yet, the automatic monotony of it causes us to take it for granted. So, try it with me.

Deep breath.
Hold.
Exhale.

And again.

I’ve been learning a lot about self-care lately. And no, it’s not always all about candles and tea, although, I’m going to share my own self-care routine (which does involve candles and tea). So, here are my tips for some twentysomething self-care:

  1. Breathe
    • Literally. Every time you feel stressed, stop for 10 seconds and take a deep breath. Scientific studies show that deep breathing will literally calm your brain. So, pause for 10 seconds, take a deep breath, and calm your mind.
  2. Develop a Routine
    • I’m not sure what it is about this week, but I’ve had no choice but to think and develop a self-care routine. For me, that has involved drinking lots of hot peppermint tea and lighting my Stress Relief candle from Bath & Body Works. And then if I have the emotional energy after a long day, I like to journal. And if I don’t, then I’ll rewatch an episode of Parks & Rec. It’s good to develop something that suits you, that you know will calm you down, that you can turn to when you are stressed.
  3. Balance
    • If I’m stressed about work, and I’m staying at work until 10:00pm on a Friday, that’s probably not a good idea. That’s dumb. I guess you could call me a hypocrite – or a masochist – take your pick. If you know something is stressing you out, balance that out with other activities that are more fun and relaxing.
  4. Celebrate the Journey
    • A lot of this week was spent saying, “Once this week is over…once this week is over…” Okay, well guess what? The week is over, and I could still be completely stressed. Self-care and stress don’t have a time limit. Find ways to celebrate the journey, even if it’s a completely stressful one. I am fortunate enough to have a friend at work who loves taking random walks around the park during the work day, which is a fantastic way for me to find some joy during what would otherwise be a completely stressful day.

So, although I feel much more relaxed right now (which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I’m writing this from a spring break trip to Costa Rica), all of this is still a learning process. I am growing as time continues, learning to stop, to enjoy the moment, and take a deep breath. Lots of deep breaths.

Celebrating 100 Posts with 100 Reasons to be Grateful

Hey hey twentysomething friends! Happy Sunday! And happy 100th post of Twentysomething Months! I can’t believe it. Remember the 100th Day in elementary school, where you could come in with 100 cheerios, or 100 pencils, or something like that? I wanted to do something similar here to celebrate this post. Although, sorry friends, I’m not going to mail order any cheerios.

This has been such an interesting week for me. If you caught me in the first half of it, you would’ve thought my life was over. I was miserable, ungrateful, and frustrated in every aspect of my world. Yet later in the week, something changed. After talking to a friend over a Whole30 compliant meal (thank you!), I was reminded that I still have a lot to learn. The reason my book isn’t getting picked up by a publisher is because it isn’t ready. The reason I’m still in this job is because there are moments that I really do love (which I was reminded of this week). I was reminded that everything in the Universe is meant to happen when it’s meant to happen, and that there is always room for growth.

To celebrate this life-altering perspective change in my own world, which coincidentally occurred during the week of my 100th post, I wanted to challenge myself to write 100 reasons to be grateful.

So, here we go.

I am grateful for:

  1. My family
  2. My health
  3. My family’s health
  4. The fact that I can call my dad about anything, including how long I can keep chicken in the refrigerator without dying
  5. My mom, and her constant love and support
  6. My hilarious sister who has become one of my best friends
  7. The brashness of my grandmother
  8. My boyfriend and the kind of true love that I never thought I would find
  9. The country that I live in where it is safe for me to say “my boyfriend” without fear of losing my job, or worse, because of it
  10. The freedom to actively and adamantly oppose the current government (#RESIST)
  11. The bravery of others in radical political resistance
  12. My high-school friends (small in number now, but mighty in memories and laughs when we do see each other)
  13. My college friends
  14. My grad school cohort
  15. My new friends that I met in New York City
  16. The greatest city in the world: New York
  17. The Hamilton Lottery (which, I won!)
  18. Theatre
  19. Broadway
  20. Music
  21. Musicals, for giving life to situations that go beyond words
  22. Art, in general
  23. Movies
  24. LGBTQ literature
  25. Free museums (thanks, NYU discount!)
  26. The stability of my job
  27. All the people that make my day job better
  28. The students that I work with, who remind me why I do what I do
  29. NYU – for giving me the opportunity to move to and work in my dream city
  30. The view from my office building
  31. The energy of Washington Square Park
  32. The bright lights on Times Square that always bring me up when I’m down
  33. The calm that comes over me when I visit Hudson River Park
  34. My ancestry and knowing who came before me
  35. Water fountains when I am especially thirsty
  36. My hair, and that I still have most of it
  37. The fact that, even if I start to go gray (which I already have), knowing that this is suddenly a fashionable trend
  38. The air I breathe, quite literally. Let’s all take a deep breath right now.
  39. Yellow flowers
  40. A good book that you want to stay up all night reading
  41. Literacy
  42. Writing in a coffee shop
  43. Finding a passion in writing
  44. Coffee shops with seating, outlets, and free wi-fi
  45. Strong, black coffee
  46. Soft pears
  47. Bookstores that smell like new paper
  48. Libraries
  49. Full bookshelves
  50. The smell of spring
  51. Drag, for teaching me that everything is a social construct, especially our own selves
  52. Ru Paul’s Drag Race for giving the gays their Super Bowl equivalent
  53. Social media for allowing me to keep in touch with friends and family
  54. The gay men and women that came before me, fought the prior battles, and positively impacted the world
  55. My education, from the first day of pre-K through my last day of graduate school
  56. The knowledge I gain from life circumstances
  57. Big, comfy sweaters
  58. Hot tea on a cold day
  59. The magic of snow
  60. Christmas!
  61. All-You-Can-Eat Sushi
  62. Going out to eat for a special occaison
  63. Going out to eat on a typical Tuesday
  64. Whole30, for teaching me to love cooking again, and for making me feel healthy again
  65. Having the privilege and ability to travel
  66. Seeing so many different parts of the world
  67. Having a place to sleep at night
  68. This lumpy couch I’m sitting on
  69. Clean water
  70. Penpals
  71. Sunshine as my alarm clock
  72. Being a morning person
  73. Being a first-generation college student
  74. Being a first-generation American
  75. Visiting family in Italy and gaining a deeper understanding of the culture
  76. Cruises
  77. My journal
  78. The habit of journaling
  79. The person that inspired me to start journaling regularly again
  80. Public transportation, for getting me where I need to be
  81. Tall buildings, that remind me that the world is bigger than myself
  82. Mentors who have given me guidance throughout my life
  83. Coffee chats with friends
  84. The twentysomething experience
  85. Sharp cheese
  86. Red wine
  87. The smell of lilacs
  88. Planet Fitness pens (I just love the purple color…)
  89. Self-love
  90. Confidence
  91. New socks
  92. The person that inspired this blog post
  93. Friendship anniversaries
  94. Walks around the park, just to go outside and get some fresh air
  95. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream
  96. The beaches on Cape Cod that remind me of home
  97. All the memories of my life that bring me joy
  98. The moments of my history that have made me who I am today
  99. This blog
    And lastly, I am grateful for:
  100. The journey

Friends, what a wild ride life is and continues to be. Recently, I’ve been stuck in a little bit of a rut, mostly due to my own impatience and expectations. But all will happen when it’s meant to be, and in the meantime, I am overjoyed to know that I have 100+ reasons to be grateful for everything else in my life.

So, thank you.