I have a hard time accepting that I am imperfect, even though I know that perfection is humanly impossible. (Hummus comes close, but that's about it. It's also not a human...anyway, moving on.)
I also don't like practicing things.
As you can imagine, this makes for a problematic combination.
This past week I came face-to-face with the reality that I'm not perfect. And it was hard.
However, after thinking about it a lot today, I realized that life is all about practicing. Life is a series of opportunities to practice being your best self. No one expects you to get everything right, every time. That's what makes us human. It's impossible to know exactly what you're doing all the time.
And that's okay.
With that, here are a few things that I will get better at, with practice:
I don't know how to be in a healthy relationship. That's the truth, and one that I have come to accept. Relationships are something I am far from perfect at. Because of this, I am very wary of what my relationship-future will hold. To be honest, I'm terrified of relationships. They've never worked for me. I've been hurt. Badly. And each time I've gotten into a new one, thinking things will be different, I found out that nothing has changed. That being said, I can learn how to be in a healthy relationship. My future is not hopeless -- I just have to practice! I'm not good at it, and honestly, I probably won't be for a while. But my fear of relationships doesn't have to hold me back from them. I can practice my boundaries one interaction at a time, knowing that it's okay if I don't get it exactly right for a while. Practice makes progress, not perfection.
As a kid, I loved to dance. I took tap dance, ballet dance, modern dance, jazz dance and irish dance, I don't think I was ever really very good, but I truly loved to do it. A month ago, I took up tap dancing again, and I've fallen in love all over again. Most of what I learned as a kid has come back to me, and I really do love getting my sweat on in class (read my friend Emily's most recent blog post here about how awesome sweating is), but the reality is i'm still not very good. Guess what! I will get better with practice! I may not get that step right the first time, or the second time, or even the 50th time, but life isn't about the end result, it's about the process (because spoiler alert: the end result is you're dead). So why not enjoy the ride, and stop trying to always get everything right the first time.
To follow up on the dance theme, I'm really bad at exercising habitually. I go to dance class once a week, sure, but that's an organized class that I paid for and I love, so it doesn't feel like exercise. (Although admittedly, even making sure I get to that class every week is sometimes hard). I also do some yoga, but again, nothing routinely. I really want to change this, and get into a reliable, regular and satisfying exercise routine. And I'm getting there, but it's really hard. Today, I was moping around, feeling angry at myself for being bad with habitual exercise, when I realized that habits are also something that come with practice. I'm not going to wake up suddenly one morning and have a new habit. Habits take a long time to form. So I took a breath, reminded myself that I'm on my way there and to trust the process. (And then I sat down to write this post.)
4. Mental health
I have generalized anxiety disorder. It is something that I've lived with for as long as I can remember, but only started treating a few years ago. The process of coping with and understanding my anxiety has been a long and unpredictable one, and I often have moments of frustration at myself for not being "over it" already (which, I'm fully aware isn't a possible thing). I have days where something triggers my anxiety and I sit there like "I thought I dealt with this, why is my anxiety back?" and I wonder if all the hard work I've done has just gone out the window in a single instant. The truth is, living with a mental illness takes practice. It's something I have to diligently work on every day, And because it takes practice, I'm not going to get it exactly right every day. The thing to remember about practice, though, is that results are sometimes hard to see, even if they truly are there. Think of it like a young child. Kids are constantly growing -- though the kid might not think so himself, when family sees him for the first time in a few months, it's extremely noticeable. It's like that. Sometimes, day-to-day progress is hard to track, especially if you're looking at your own progression. But the outside world can see it, and if you take a step back and think about how far you've come since the beginning...you are making progress.
5. Living minimally
This weekend I went shopping, and bought things I didn't need. I haven't done that in a while, and it didn't feel so great after I did it. (I have a pair of shoes I bought from a thrift store that felt fine at the time I bought them but now I think are too small...) Again, like with my exercise thing, I was pretty angry at myself for doing that. I kept thinking, "But you were doing so well!" Progress is often two steps forward and one step back. And that's normal. Again, I haven't mastered minimalism yet. This is still something I'm learning, and of course I'm going to make mistakes. What's important to remember is that even a step back in the name of practice is a step in the right direction. I learned from the process, and I'm better for it.
The bottom line is this: Everyone makes mistakes. Nobody's perfect. (Hannah Montana throwback, anyone?) But if you look at life as opportunities to practice being the best person you can be, then things become a little less black and white, Suddenly, every moment, every opportunity is a gift, given to you precisely when you need it most.
Even if that means making a mistake.
Do you have things you are practicing? How do you deal with the frustration of making mistakes? I would love to hear about it!
Lately, I've been dwelling a lot on personal change. Change in my attitudes. Change in my diet. Change in my self-care routine. I've been focusing on it because I'm proud of myself; I'm being proactive, taking steps to improve my quality of life. Because isn't that what life is all about? Learning and growing and improving?
Well I realized something today: I've been approaching it wrong.
Most, if not all, of these amazing changes I'm implementing in my life right now come out of a desire to not be who I was before. On the one hand, this is a good thing. I'm recognizing unhealthy habits that I want to change. I'm doing something about my dissatisfaction. But on the other hand, in doing all of this self-improvement, what I'm really trying to do is erase my past. Because the truth is, I'm mad at myself. And I don't want to admit it. I'm mad at old Greta. I'm really angry at her. I don't want to be her anymore, so I'm doing things to create Greta 2.0.
But guess what? Old Greta will never go away. My past is as much a part of me as my present is, and no matter how many positive changes I make to my diet and shopping habits, nothing can change that.
And that's okay.
Self-improvement is not forgiveness. Change will not erase my past. Instead of focusing on changing those things about me that I don't like, I can try to accept those imperfections as part of me, and then move on from there.
I am human; I make mistakes. Imperfection is what makes me who I am.
It's time to forgive myself.
I found this quote a few years ago, and I didn't really understand what it meant.
Now, as I'm deep into this journey of self-love and self-respect, this quote means so much to me that I almost want to get it tattooed on my body, somewhere where I will see it every day as a constant reminder to stand up for myself.
I have lived most of my life trying to please others. I've lived in fear of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, or simply being wrong. Each decision I made was carefully calculated to be the best for everyone else. And then, when people would still treat me poorly, or not like me, or disagree with me, I would get angry at myself for not being good enough.
I'm done consenting to feeling inferior.
Because really, that's what I was doing. I was choosing to live on everyone else's terms, believing firmly that they knew what was best for me. I was consenting to feeling inferior.
Since I've discovered self-love, I refuse to allow myself to feel inferior. I refuse to be treated like an object. I refuse to be used and then discarded.
I am worthy of respect and love. And it is my right to not accept anything less than what I deserve. I deserve to treat myself the way I treat others, with love and kindness and respect. And I deserve to surround myself with people who treat me that way too.
Unfortunately, this means I've had to walk away from many friendships and relationships. My circle of friends is much smaller than it used to be. And that's been hard. But since I've experienced unconditional self-respect, I refuse to go back.
And you should too.
No one can make us feel inferior without our consent.
I've never been one for "almosts." I tend to think in absolutes.
As a kid, I remember my grandpa always telling me, "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades," and I guess that stuck, because I never wanted to just be "close" to something. I was always an all or nothing gal. I either got a 100% on an exam, or I didn't. It didn't matter if I still got an A. If it wasn't perfect, it didn't matter. I needed to get everything right, there was no room for error.
That's an exhausting way to live.
This aversion for "almosts" deterred me from trying many new things, because if I couldn't do it all at once, it wasn't worth doing at all. I'm still fighting this, especially when it comes to exercise, but my journey with food over the past few months has shown me that "almosts" are actually quite useful, and nothing to be ashamed of.
So here I am, almost vegan, and loving it.
How did I get here? I had been wanting to cut dairy out of my life for a few years now. My acne was out of control and I had tried just about everything with no luck. But the thought of giving up all dairy all at once was terrifying to me. I loved cheese. Like, really loved cheese. And I couldn't imagine life without it.
So, for my 2016 New Year's resolution, I opted for an "almost" --I decided to stop drinking dairy milk in my coffee. I couldn't commit to never eating dairy again (ice cream!? cheese?! yoghurt?!) but I could commit to ordering soy or almond milk every time I went to Starbucks or Einsteins. That I knew I could do.
And I did. Starting January 1, I stopped drinking cow's milk in my coffee. And guess what? something incredible and unexpected happened. I stopped craving dairy all together. Slowly, as I realized how much better I felt without cow's milk in my system, I started avoiding other dairy products. Naturally, without forcing anything, I started ordering dairy-free cheese on my pizzas, stopped buying yoghurt for breakfast, ordered hummus instead of cream cheese on my bagels. And I let it happen. Cutting dairy out of my life entirely was easy to do. My body was literally telling me it didn't want dairy in its system anymore. And then something else happened. My body stopped wanting meat. I would go out to eat at restaurants and crave the vegetarian option on the menu instead of the steak. I started eating veggie sandwiches instead of turkey. I became addicted to hummus and carrots.
Now, by no means am I telling you that I am 100%, completely vegan now. This is a blog post about "almosts," after all. I do eat meat and dairy occasionally, although I never feel good after I do. (I ate 2 mini York peppermint patties earlier this evening and my stomach is still screaming at me). I'm not sure where my vegan journey will take me, or if I will ever label myself as officially vegan, but I do know that this process has taught me the value of "almosts." Taking little baby steps to eat healthier and listening to what my body is telling me about what foods I put into my system has made me more self-aware than ever. (It's pretty incredible what your body will tell you if you just know how to listen to it).
So friends, embrace the "almosts" in life, because they are not failures, but beautiful, little successes.
(Also, shout out to anyone who gets the movie reference that inspired the title of this post)
I leave you with a food porn picture of my dinner from tonight. All vegan and delicious!
I will be the first to admit that I never thought I would consider myself a "minimalist". If you know of me (or even have stalked me on Instagram for any short amount of time) you will know that I like stuff -- specifically clothing and accessories. (Oh and shoes. Can't forget the shoes.)
This love affair started for me at around 13 years old, when I finally started making some money of my own, teaching piano lessons. Suddenly, I had caught the shopping bug...each weekend it was a new purse or a new pair of shoes that I most certainly didn't need, and that I would probably only wear a few times before it got shoved to the back of my closet, never to be found again (fast fashion, anyone?).
Sitting here, reflecting on it now, I realize that I have never felt okay without having stuff around me. It wasn't just about the shopping. I can probably count the days as a kid that I could see the floor of my bedroom. My closet was never organized. My clothes were never put away. My bed was never made.
I write this in the past tense, but the truth is this was me up until about a month ago. I've been living alone for almost two years (!!!) and my friends can attest that I needed about a week's notice if I was going to have friends over because it took me about that long to make my apartment even presentable to the outside world. I had to put my clothes away, do maybe a month of laundry, do some dishes, make my bed, vacuum, etc...the list goes on and on.
And then, by some twist of fate/life happening, here came April and suddenly I WAS FORCED INTO BEING ORGANIZED. Basically, I'm moving out of my apartment in August, so my landlord needs to start showing the apartment. And I get one day of notice before a showing. So guess what? This means I have to keep my apartment ready at all times to show to potential renters. No more messy kitchen. No more laundry all over the floor. Time to maybe start making my bed.
Oh, I don't know, maybe start acting like a grown-up.
I took the impending move as a sign to start de-cluttering. I went beyond just washing dishes and hanging up clean clothes. I took the time (with the help of my best friend, of course) to really take a step back and examine all the stuff I had in my apartment, and decide whether or not I really needed it all.
(Spoiler alert: I didn't.)
I still have three more grocery bags of papers to go through, but here is what my bedroom looks like now:
Beautiful, right? (Look at that carpet! You can see it!)
I'm sitting here writing this blog post in my organized, clean, beautiful apartment and I'm realizing something. Having a clean apartment feels good. Like, really , really, really good. And I find myself wanting to keep everything clean and organized. (I hung up a pair of pants today after deciding not to wear them...progress, not perfection!)
And here's what I think it comes down to:
It's no coincidence that at about the same time I started organizing my apartment I experienced self-love for the first time (It was an emotional and life-changing experience, but a blog post for another day). The two things are inextricably linked.
For me, self-love means knowing what I deserve, and accepting nothing less. This discovery was first applied only to my relationships with men and dating, but now, I realize that it's influencing every part of my life. Including my messy apartment.
Before, when I was hoarding stuff, it was because I didn't love myself enough to think I deserved any less. I felt (subconsciously) that if I was stylish, and kept acquiring things, I would somehow be more desirable. To friends, to family members, to significant others. I surrounded myself (literally) with things so that I wouldn't feel so alone. (This of course was all done subconsciously. I truly, consciously believed that being messy just didn't bother me). I didn't love myself enough to recognize my self-worth without stuff, without new purses and shoes and dirty dishes and dusty shelves. I didn't think I deserved anything better.
Now, all of that has changed. Now that I love myself (authentically, deeply, unconditionally) I realize not only that I deserve a clean house, but that I am me without stuff. I don't need the latest pair of shoes to be considered beautiful. I don't need to punish myself for being unlovable by not having a clean apartment. I am worthy of cleanliness, and I am worthy of minimalism.
Once I recognized this, my entire perspective changed. Suddenly, I didn't want to be around stuff all the time. The stuff bothered me. I felt uncomfortable in it. Yucky. Angry. Anxious. So I got rid of it (4 boxes worth, and still counting). I got rid of it and I feel lighter. Happier. More authentically me.
I can feel myself going down the path of having less because I've finally realized that I have all that I need within myself. I am complete regardless of how many sweaters I own.
And it feels WONDERFUL.
It's 1 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, and I'm staring at a giant pile of clean laundry in my closet, waiting to be put away. I'm getting ready to move in a few months (grad school!!!) and I'm using the move as motivation to de-clutter my life. With a lot of help from my best friend (check out her blog and follow her on Instagram! She's adorable), I have gone through my entire closet and donated three large boxes of clothes, and one medium box of shoes to Goodwill. What I allowed to stay is staring up at me from my closet floor.
As I start to hang up my newly cleansed wardrobe, I can see a trend emerging -- jeans, dark colors, sweaters and tank tops. This describes my daily uniform, which I only discovered once I had cleared away everything that didn't feel 100% authentically me. My closet is no longer filled with patterned dresses I only wore once, or that bright orange shirt I bought that one time when I was trying to "wear more color," or the pants-suit some sales associate sold me that was probably on trend for all of five minutes. Everything in my closet is filled with clothes that have stood the test of time and that make me feel amazing when I wear them.
Once everything is put away, I stand back to admire my accomplishment (and for anyone who knows me, having all my laundry clean and put away is an accomplishment). But what I see before me isn't just a closet of clothes, it's a representation of Greta, of my true self, of the person I have always been.
And it feels so f**king good.
Now you're probably wondering where the f**kboys come into this conversation. We are just talking about clothes, after all.
Remember all those clothes that I got rid of in my purge? The items that I was infatuated with when I bought them but got bored of after wearing them only twice? The pieces that went out of style after one season? There's a name for it in the fashion industry: it's called fast fashion. It's fashion that's not meant to be in style for a long time, so that by definition it requires people to shop more frequently, in order to stay "on trend." These items have no staying power whatsoever; since they aren't made to last long-term, they are usually cheaply made. Lucrative for businesses, not great for consumers' wallets.
Fast fashion is the f**kboy of the fashion industry.
(For those of you that might not be familiar with the term "f**kboy", here's one definition that I found on the internet: "A ‘f**kboy’ is a young man who sleeps with women without any intention of having a relationship with them or perhaps even walking them to the door post-sex. He’s a womanizer, an especially callous one, as well as kind of a loser.”)
Think about it: Both come with the intention of very little commitment, are usually pretty cheap, and are not made to last-long term.
But if that didn't convince you already, maybe this list will.
5 ways that fast fashion and f**kboys are the same:
1. They are both "on trend" right now.
F**kboys are a product of the "hook-up" culture phenomenon, most popular with college-age kids and 20-somethings -- casual sex with no commitment that provides instant sexual gratification without any thought of the long-term.
In a similar way, fast fashion clothing items are meant to satisfy the customer instantly, all the while having no intention of lasting longer than a season (if the clothing doesn't fall apart before then). And who are these fast fashion companies targeting? The same age group participating in "hook-up culture" (Take Forever 21 as an example...the company name says it all!)
2. They have no intention of staying long-term.
Just like that weird-looking jumpsuit that had the strange parachute pants, f**kboys are typically a one-time-only thing.
3. They complicate things.
In my experience, (with both f**kboys and fast fashion) these one-time, commitment-less experiences can cause unnecessary (mental and physical) clutter in one's life.
-Is he ever going to text me back? Anxiety.
-Why do I have no space in my closet? Frustration.
-Even though I am "on trend," why do I still feel so empty inside? Sadness.
These are just extra stresses in one's life that are avoidable and unnecessary. Since I've gotten rid of both f**kboys and fast fashion, my life feels so much less cluttered!
4. They distract you from your true self.
Again, speaking from experience, both f**kboys and fast fashion have a way of dimming one's ability to express their true, authentic self. Despite what pop-culture and the media might tell you, the commitment-less, romance-less, "friends-with-benefits" hook-up thing does not bring the self-fulfillment it promises. I used to think that no-strings-attached sex would empower me...it did the opposite. It made me feel less powerful, less sure of myself, and less fulfilled. This is the same for fast fashion. Sure, that model wearing that leopard-print halter top leather-fringed maxi-dress might be perfectly toned and smiling ear-to-ear, but it's an advertisement. You may feel cute in it now, but how are you going to feel about that $50 you spent in 3 months when no one is wearing leopard-print anymore and that same model is now wearing a latex pants-suit? Did you really buy that dress because it was authentically you or because it was "in style" at the time?
5. There are other alternatives.
Fast fashion is not the only option available to you while clothes shopping. F**kboys are not the only men out there to be involved with. Don't be afraid of commitment, whether it be to an item of clothing or to a romantic partner. Listen to yourself and strive to be authentically you -- don't think that just because it's "popular" now that it's your only choice. You have options.
We all have had f**kboys in our closets and in our beds.
I de-cluttered mine. Will you?
Just this weekend I discovered this wonderful children's book by Gertrude Stein, called The World Is Round. In it, a young girl named Rose takes a journey of self-discovery up a mountain with a blue chair.
I am a lot like Rose. First off, we share a name (my middle name is Rose!). But more than that, I too am on a journey of self-discovery. I am trekking up a metaphorical mountain to figure out who and what I am.
I have been wanting to start a blog for a while now, in which I can share all things "me" as I grow spiritually, intellectually and (yes) physically (even though I don't think I'm getting any taller, sadly).
So here I am, writing down my journey up the mountain as (Greta) Rose.
Rose took her blue chair with her the top of the mountain.
Will you be my blue chair?
A 20-something trying to find what it means to be me!