Let’s allow the song (incredible) and its lyrics (poignantly on the mark) to speak for themselves. And to speak for me.
Specifically: A watched pot never boils. Time moves slowly when you’re waiting or watching for something to happen. I’ve been thinking about those words this week, specifically because my mother said them to me on the phone. During our conversation a few days ago, I hinted at one of the major Worries for a Singleton, which is #1,089,556 on the list: hesitating about making a major life decision because you wonder if something or, rather someone, waits for you around the corner. (And a part of you wants to wait to make that major life decision until you’re 1 of 2.) Her response: “Oh, Adjoa, don’t worry about those things. A watched pot never boils. I don’t want those thoughts to consume you. It’s easier said than done, I know, but don’t overthink it.” I let her words marinate before replying that I wasn’t necessarily obsessing, but merely thinking aloud.
My initial, knee-jerk reaction? 1. Pure irritation. Couldn’t I just express myself without the assumption that I was engaging in overthinking? Couldn’t I just say I was thinking about the future and what will be without being reminded of a slowly boiling pot? My next reaction: 2. I’m never not going to think about my future and whether I’ll share it with someone. It’s always going to be a thought. It pays rent, that thought. It shares a room in my brain and it ain’t going away. Next reaction: 3. Grateful for the acknowledgement that it’s all easier said than done. As I get older and those desires to have my own family grow, it’s certainly harder to just be carefree and let it go and don’t think about it and la la la. It just is. Final reaction: 4. She’s right, don’t overthink it. And as much as I have a Master’s Degree in Overthinking, my mother was absolutely correct in knowing that I do overthink, I do over-worry, I do over-consume in endless ruminations about life and the future and love and all that. And she, my biggest fan and cheerleader, didn’t want me to drive myself crazy.
Y’all. It’s hard wrapping your brain around needing something and going through life not seeing that thing manifest itself. It’s just hard. No amount of well-meaning advice…
- Don’t think about it!
- Are you even ready? It’s really hard!
- Are you putting it out there?
- Just move on!
…will remove the fact that in life, when we need something and we’re not seeing it, it’s just difficult to la la la and keep calm and carry on. Overthinking will happen. Mental over-consumption will happen. Emotional merry-go-rounds will occur. But it’s important to extract what you need–the acknowledgement of things being easier said than done, for example, or the reminder that people who love you don’t want you to stress yourself out–and try, very hard, to keep it moving. It doesn’t mean you stop thinking or praying or wondering, but it means you fight (fight hard) to not be consumed.
So the pot is there and I take comfort in knowing that it will boil. Until then, I’ll be peeking in the kitchen every now and again.
Another new year, another exercise in writing “2018” on everything until mid-April.
Here’s to weird year typos and just making it through this new 365, one moment at a time.
I’ve never actually believed in retail therapy. If you’re not into shopping anyway (hello, me), the idea of massaging a bad day or a sad mood by walking around a store or even engaging in window shopping wouldn’t be the first thing on the list. But the comedy of life is that retail therapy is almost always what I do when I need to massage a bad day or sad mood. (Barring a hunkering down in my apartment with a week’s worth of carbs.) I drive right to the store, park, grab a cart, and traverse the aisles moodily until I either leave with nothing or buy something I don’t really need. And that was me yesterday.
Yesterday, I was sad and blue and glum and humdrum and needed to do something. Something. Whatever that something was, it translated into leaving work and driving to my favorite Ross, where I parked, grabbed a cart, and traversed the aisles moodily, looking for things I didn’t need. In the shoe aisle, I tried on a bunch of shoes, of which neither ended up in my cart. I ventured over to the accessories, where I touched a lot of scarves and pulled them off the rack to examine them for whatever one looks for when you’re scarf shopping. One scarf ended up in my cart. I then sauntered over to the hats. I tried a few on (see above), which was interesting in light of the faux locs (I have faux locs! More in another post) on my head, but there was one hat that incited a high level of like and also, more importantly, fit over the locs. Perhaps because the color matched my mood?
It ended up in my cart, as well. So did a pair of pants. The End.
I didn’t analyze my sadness and blue too deeply though. Mostly because 1) winter; 2) Monday; 3) single. You know what I mean by #3. The grays of this seasons and its accompanying doldrums seem to be heightened when one is going through it by their lonesome. And although, to repeat, this is a year-round desire, the fall/end of the year finds it all very pronounced. It comes and goes and it is what it is. I’ve long given myself permission to call a thing a thing (praise Queen Iyanla) and feel exactly what I feel. And I felt it all yesterday. It’s interesting how the mind finds a way, any way, to cope.
Nevertheless: here’s to distractions by way of hats and scarves, and other such things. Onwards…
Sometimes I wonder if I love fall so much because it’s the visual embodiment of all the things that, psychologically, I should be doing a better job of maintaining. Every year, nature takes stock and detoxes, shedding its skin in the loveliest, most wondrous of ways. It’s a lesson to be learned, and certainly one to echo.
Because, dear reader, I know how to do the following things:
drive long distances
remember every vestige of wrongs done to me
Let’s discuss that last one. Is it really letting go and shedding if I hold on to the memory, almost lovingly, to my chest? Is my intent to remember not to be hurt again really a thinly veiled attempt to just remember the hurt(s)?
And yet, one thing I actively try to do is be a good forgiver. In the past, I held grudges like a boss. As I grew up and looked inward, it was important that growth and maturing involved a decided effort to strip away some of the
vendettas grudges I was holding on to. I’ve come a long way. But there’s still road to traverse.
Sometimes I think wanting to protect our hearts, as women, involves a large dose of remembering. The heart needs protection. It needs a shield. We have to remember the past so we don’t repeat letting people inside who shouldn’t be there. But balance. So much balance is necessary. To wrap the heart in a shield doesn’t also mean to let it grow cold with memory.
Look at all the trees around you, just stripping things away and readying themselves for the cyclical new beginning.
Copy and paste.
Even with endless rainy days (it’s been raining here for a full two weeks, reader) and minor disappointments in life (I’ll spare the details and provide them for another post, but let’s give you one clue: men), you’ll find This Square Peg moving in some fashion during the day. Even if it’s chair dancing at the office, a little jig in the ladies’ loo, full out imitations of Janet Jackson’s Pleasure Principle video in the gym–I’m always moving.
Little joys that come from responding to the songs in my ear and/or the songs in my head. Can’t beat that. At some point today, dance if you can.
Happy Fall Friday, just keep swimming (which we’re doing here in Texas), and bon weekend.
Y’all know I’m a singleton, right? If you didn’t know: I’m a singleton. I enjoy my singleton life immensely, but yeah, full disclosure: I also want that demographic to change. And I have to tell you, dear reader, that the desire to change my singleton status becomes even more heightened when autumn settles over the atmosphere.
Is it the image of walking down a leaf-strewn path with my hand inside another’s?
Gazing up at an orange moon and marveling about its wonder to someone else and not just to myself?
The general electricity in the air that seems to call out for change?
Years ago, I mentioned this to my bestie, that I seem to crave the presence of another even more during the fall. “I get it,” she said. “There’s just something in the air that makes a lot of folks feel that way.”
Is it the prospect of dressing up in my burnt orange and boots for a non-solo dinner or movie outing?
Leaving the mark of my fall-inspired chocolate and/or burgundy lip color on another’s cheek?
You’d think that a season where nature dies beautifully and bursting with color wouldn’t necessarily call for the welcoming of love. Or perhaps that’s it exactly. It is the fall of the year, after all. Nature’s last hurrah as it prepares for the unremitting winter to come. Maybe I want to fall in love in fall to prepare for the inevitable chill on its way; the darkening, cold, hushed days that, sometimes, can be unbearable when you’re alone.
#realtalk: It’s a year-round desire. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t entertain the idea of a seasonal love and then moving on when summer wakes up. But there’s just something about love and this time time of year.
C’est la vie en automne, I suppose. Happy Friday, onwards, and bon weekend…
This Square Peg in college: ’twas an interesting time. When I look back, though, I can honestly say that I loved my college days. It was the 90s. The soundtrack of my life was lit, as the kids say, and the life lessons abounded. Here are 10 things I learned in college:
- My education really did belong to me. Other than that pesky Math credit, I basically curated my path of learning. If a class and its content didn’t interest me, I found one that did. I explored avenues of thought and learning that were entirely my choice. I was paying for it, after all. (Still am. Le sigh.) In other words, it was an interesting lesson in reaping the results of my academic decisions. When K-12 isn’t really about you, this was all about me.
- Never, ever, ever declare your undying love and devotion for your English professor when he’s likely within earshot.
- Don’t do #2 for professors you don’t much care for, either. I was in the cafeteria complaining about one of my not-that-nice professors and she was right behind me. Not pretty. Thank goodness I passed.
- College boys will be college boys. There were some doozies, y’all. One kid, a fellow English major, asked me if I used mushrooms to find inspiration when writing. I asked him if he meant the gross things in the ground. He said no. I then got it. I then walked away, laughing. *insert eye roll here*
- There’s an amazing literary world out there, people. I discovered some of my favorite authors, primarily female, during those four years. Flannery O’Connor. Edith Wharton. Alice Walker. I delved into their works and never looked back.
- Sarah McLachlan has a song for every situation. Case in point: I lived the entire Surfacing album during my sophomore year.
- There are educators out there who passionately care for their students. I met a number of them.
- Overconfidence + higher education + assumptions = a D on your first paper for an English class. I learned to be humble and ask for help and advice.
- One will freak out about classes (four essay-heavy ones, to be exact) and working two jobs and believing you will flunk and one’s Mom will assure you that you’ll be fine and will command you to stop writhing around on the floor. College breakdowns are a dime a dozen. *shrug*
- After four long years, a seminal moment will occur when you finally begin the path to discovering just who you are and were meant to be.
Good times, indeed. I learned more than ten things, but we’ll pause for now. More lessons–and declarations of love–will come in another post.
Onwards and upwards…and college loan-wards…
Y’all. Why am I so scurred about turning 40????
A bit of background: growing up, no age ever really scared me off. I ached to be 12. I couldn’t wait to be 16. 21 was super cool. 25? Give me 5. And if you’ve read any of my past posts, you know about the wonder, amazement, and sheer beauty that 30 brought me. (There are too many posts to link about 30; just hit that search button, playa.) As the ages continued, I embraced each new year, grateful for the increase in wisdom and self-discovery, among other awesome things that came with getting older.
But why is 40 giving me all the terrors known to man? What is it about that number?
Oh, and the whole “you’re only as old as you feel” adage means nothing to me. I was born old and stressed out. If anything, getting older has given me ample opportunities to age backwards. Meet your Melanin Benjamin Button, everyone. So why do I envision this new decade hiding behind a dark corner, flexing its long claws, ready to strike?
Here are some irrational, pre-40 fears:
- All my bones will fall apart.
- Someone will refer to me as middle-aged.
- My hormones will get further out of whack and someone will find me on the side of the road muttering unintelligibly to myself.
I said irrational, didn’t I?
In the past, like most kids, I always felt too young and dreamed of being older. And now…give me trips to the library during school-sanctioned summertime and rolling in the grass in the backyard without fear of ticks, please. Perhaps it’s that, the strange sense of losing youth, that’s bothering me. Even though I craved getting older, I also knew that the process would take time. Fast forward to now, where time is a giant clock that has “40” emblazoned on its surface, staring back at me with its arms folded and an impatient tapping of its foot. We have arrived.
In the grand scheme of things, rationally, I recognize that the age is really only a number. It’s relevant for tax, census, and records purposes. It doesn’t define me or create some sort of blueprint of what my life will become. I know, I know…
Here are some of my favorites who are turning 40 this year right along with me (or already have):
Anyway, I will continue to heave giant sighs and wonder what 40 will bring me. Meanwhile, you will tell me in the comments how you dealt with new ages and/or decades, won’t you? Because you love This Square Peg and want to comfort her somehow, right? Right? Riiiight?
Because let’s be honest: there was no real manual to prepare for adulting when we were kids, was there? Sure, our parents may have given us advice and even perhaps provided their own living example. But we were
destroying playing Legos and watching Jem and the Holograms. We–I, for sure–weren’t paying attention. And then you turn 25 and you’re like…how many more nights do I have to eat peanut butter so I can have enough money to pay my rent this month?! (True story.) Here are five things I wish I had known (or listened to) in advance, but I’m glad I know now:
- Adults are just tall kids wearing grown-up clothes. Seriously, the behaviors we saw in classrooms and on playgrounds don’t change that drastically. Tantrums become manageable, attitudes can be hidden, etc. Timmy, now Tim, probably still wants to stick in a frog inside your T-shirt, but instead, he ignores you during the staff meeting. And let’s not get started on Janine and your ongoing issues with parking, personal space, and food in the office fridge. My point is that we may grow up, but not everything goes away. Cliques remain. Mean girls become mean ladies. That sort of thing. And I don’t excuse myself: the way I dealt with life as a 10 year-old versus now means I deal with it better, but trust, I still have my bratty ways. And a strong side eye.
- Credit cards are nothing but the work of the devil. My dear Daddy tried to warn me about them. I remember sitting in the car and staring placidly out of the window while he discussed the danger of relying on credit cards. I wasn’t listening. Le sigh. In college, I was offered an Faustian bargain: to get a free mobile phone, all I had to do was sign up for a credit card. Ooh, free phone! Got the phone, the card, and eventually, the bills. It was an interesting journey. I learned the hard way. But I learnt!
- Love isn’t a guarantee. Growing up, I saw how difficult things could sometimes be for my parents, who were raising four children while balancing all the things married life and the economy and other responsibilities demanded of them. The unsurprising result: I never imagined myself married. No visions of weddings or my own little children running around. It just seemed hard. I knew my parents loved each other, but there were so many struggles. I was content imagining myself as a rich advertising executive with high heels and maybe a boyfriend, a la Angela Bower from Who’s the Boss? (Honestly.) But when I got older and recognized that love, despite its wrinkles and hardships, was still love and worth the fight (also seen through my parents’ example, among others), life taught me an interesting lesson: so what? In other words, me finally understanding and wanting love didn’t necessarily guarantee that I would find it or attain it. And so far, love remains elusive. Becoming an adult with adult comprehension was no automatic journey into a love of my own, a lesson that continues to morph before my eyes. But you know what I found? An abiding love for This Square Peg. I’ll take it.
- Assume nothing. Along the adulting highway, I started to believe–really, assume–that folks would act right/make good decisions/not cut me off in traffic/so on because that’s what kind, good, compassionate people do in life: the right thing. Nooooooope. People are complicated creatures, including the person writing all of this. Assume. Nothing.
- Questions are really OK. Y’all. I’m about five months from entering a brand new decade in life and I still call my mom/bestie/sister/friends and pose a variety of questions about life, people, work, etc. My bottom line: adulting will never mean an exhaustive understanding of everything. We will still wonder; gaze in confusion; dissect; figure out or try to. And that’s OK. The complexities will continue. But that’s…adulting.
Yeah, I miss those days when I knew nothing about taxes and utility bills and struggle peanut butter and the list continues, but I wouldn’t trade those days for now. It’s nice to see the world through these adulting eyes…I think.
What’s one adulting lesson you wish you knew in advance (but are happy to know it regardless)? Share with your fellow tall kid in grown-up clothes, please…