Learning to be Alone

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Photo Credit: Flickr User nebulux, Creative Commons

Recently I went out to dinner by myself. Perhaps it was cheating a bit, to pick a restaurant where I filed through a line to pick up my food, filled my own paper cup with Diet Coke, and had no waiter or waitress to notice my aloneness. But it was at least a start in learning how to be alone. So I sat, and ate, and occasionally glanced at the people around me and wondered if they saw me, by myself, with my pile of nachos and my Diet Coke.

I don’t know what I expected. It was an ordinary evening, a fairly ordinary activity (just not for me).

The earth didn’t move, or even quiver. No one stopped, pointed, and laughed at me. Small children didn’t ask their parents what was wrong with the girl by herself.

None of those.

Sure, I felt a bit awkward. I wanted to check my phone a few times to have something to do. I wondered if people thought it odd that the chairs around me were empty. But really, if I were to ask all the people who were in the restaurant that night if they noticed anything strange, I’d almost guarantee they’d say no.

Increasingly I am realizing the importance of learning to be alone, but not lonely. I see the importance of learning to occupy my space with calm and confidence, to know that the people who may or may not be with me do not define me.

Though I am quick to lament it, my singleness almost gives me a slight advantage in learning to be comfortable alone (and perhaps fuels my recognition that it is something I need to work on). It forces me to do things alone, but the choice to be okay with that is my own. It’s not just a single person thing though, it’s a human thing; to be comfortable in our own skin, wherever we are, whoever we’re around, to not be so quick to notice or care about the people who may see and wonder, but more likely, will never notice at all.

It’s easy for me to blame my aversion to aloneness on my nearly-off-the-charts extroversion, but preferring to be with people doesn’t mean I will always have that option–and I shouldn’t always need to be with them. I don’t think eating nachos in a restaurant by myself will become my new favorite activity, but it doesn’t have to be. I can be comfortable with alone without loving it.

Not lonely, just alone.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. How are you at being alone?

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Grace and the UnGoogleable

Google and I are good friends. Word definitions, timezone charts,  who’s who in that one movie–it’s all a few keyboard taps and clicks away. There are lots of things I don’t know, but with the help of Google, I can find most of it out.

About four weeks ago I started this “full-time big kid job”adventure. I’ve already learned a lot, about how to do my job and the company and life as a full-time working person. Along with the freak outs about the giant change in my life schedule, I have been coming to terms with the reality that I will not and cannot know everything immediately.

What I’m finding is that some lessons are unGoogleable.

Before this one, I had a pretty good handle on my previous job(s). While I was in school, I wasn’t expected to know everything–that was the the entire point of why I was there. Even now, I was hired with full knowledge on both sides that I was not going to step into this job and be able to do it perfectly.

So alongside the lesson of not knowing, I’m learning about grace.

Because sometimes the hardest person to grant grace to is yourself.

Grace is not an unfamiliar concept to me. It’s a word used often in Christian circles, but in those contexts it’s about the grace God has given me–undeserved, divine grace. But there are other, human-given types of grace, and I find myself needing to grant it to myself.

 
This grace says, “It’s okay to not know it all today. You are doing, you are actively trying, you are learning.”
This grace is teaching me the importance of asking questions, of admitting I don’t know it all, of giving myself space and time to process.
This grace is about learning that as I sit in meetings with people who have been in the industry for seven years, twelve years, twenty years…there is no way to Google that experience.

Yet, this same grace is teaching me I have value of my own. Experience? No, not much of that. But I have ideas. A fresh view. Skills of my own.

I am being reminded of all that I don’t know, and to be okay in it. Not to stop learning, but to relish the space it gives me to grow. To see things differently, and to approach the unGoogleable lessons with curiosity, willingness, and a heavy dose of grace for myself.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. How have you learned to grant yourself grace?

Checkpoint: A Third of the Way There

On October 1, I decided to take on the challenge of participating in The 31 Amazing Days Challenge by posting each day for this entire month.

This is post number 10, so I’m a third of the way there. Already I’m learning a few things, feeling good about some things, and failing at a handful as well. Sounds like my life in general. (Or anyone’s life, for that matter)

  • Writing is born from observation. The more I write, the more observant I need to be–of little things throughout my day, and big things in life as a whole.
  • When I started, I told myself I wouldn’t post purely out of an emotional reaction. Whoops. Exhibits  and B of my failures at this one.
  • Good writing often takes time. I have several posts percolating in my brain and on my computer I want to get just right, and they aren’t there yet. In the meantime, I’ve posted ones that maybe aren’t works of art, but they felt right for the time. So up they went.
  • I am continually being reminded that words have power, and with power comes responsibility. To choose my words carefully. To speak truth but not brutally. To be authentic. To share enough but never things that might hurt those around me. To remember these words go places and say things about me I may never know.
  • As a Christian writing these words, these words take on eternal consequences. Which is awesome, and appropriately terrifying.
  • Declaring 31 Days of Amazing doesn’t guard against not-so-amazing occurrences. However, it can (and has already begun to) force me to look at those in a different way, and will continue to force me to look differently at what’s to come.
  • I’m not done. When it comes to writing, when it comes to figuring out what I’m doing with my life, when it comes to living the way God wants me to, when it comes to any piece of my life. But I don’t think we’re ever totally done in this lifetime, and that is okay.

 

Here’s to the rest of 31 Amazing Days.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

 

p.s. Thanks for hanging out with me. If you don’t want to miss a post, you can enter your email address in the “Subscribe” box on the right side of the page.

Chalk it up to Coincidence

A conversation with a friend.

A tweet.

A sermon.

An article.

A Bible passage.

How much do I chalk up to coincidence?

My Christian beliefs, and perhaps something innate in who I am, prevent me from believing entirely in the idea of coincidence. Since I believe that God has planned, orchestrated, and knows even the smallest pieces of my life, it’s hard for me to brush off a message I have heard in numerous places in a short span of time. Perhaps equally hard is determining what the combination of all of them is really telling me. Even if I manage that, is it really something God is trying to teach me, or am I just trying to force together pieces of a puzzle that doesn’t exist?

Or am I simply trying to hear what I want to hear?

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Looking for Lessons

Sometimes I get tired of looking for lessons.

This phase of life that I’m in right now, with all its uncertainty, frustration, and confusion likely has a lot I should probably be getting out of it.

God is probably going, “Just look at everything I’m teaching you, Brianna! Trust, patience, love, humbleness, graciousness–you are so blessed to be learning all of this!”

And I suppose I am.

But sometimes I am tired of learning these lessons, of always trying to discover what God is showing me in this season. Sometimes, I just want to be done learning for a while and just…be. Maybe send my brain on vacation somewhere, let it rest where it won’t feel the need to over analyze things.

Know of any nice spots for a brain vacation?

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Travel Lessons of a Recent College Graduate

A few days ago I returned from a trip I had been planning and looking forward to for months. It was…fantastic. Lovely. Wonderful. And all sorts of other positive adjectives.

I arrived in London and spent several days there, went to Oxford for a day, and ended with a few days in Edinburgh. I enjoyed myself immensely; it was amazing to see places with such history, buildings and landscapes with such beauty, to get just a glimpse of what life is like for people who live in a setting so different than mine. Cliche as it is, it was “an experience I’ll never forget.” I’ve already begun to share stories with my family and friends here, but I’m sure new ones will pop up and old ones will resurface for years to come.

Yet there was so much more to my trip than the buildings and sites I saw, the people I met and the pictures I took. All of those things were pieces, but they alone do not make up the whole. Because, as I am apt to do, while in the midst of my sightseeing and photo capturing, I was also learning. As a college graduate, I suppose that’s what I’m supposed to do: continue to observe and learn for the rest of my life.

So many times I have written about the way I struggle with change and uncertainty, how I like to have things planned out and find it frustrating to not know what’s ahead. This is still, at its core, true of me. But I think I’ve spent too much time telling myself that this is the way I am, allowing myself to buy into the idea that spontaneity and I cannot be friends, and that changes, even small ones, must be difficult. Largely due to these things, I approached my trip with a bit of trepidation, not exactly sure how I would handle things.

I learned that I do not always have to live up to my labels of “doesn’t handle change well,” “needs to be in control,” and “has to have a plan.”

When flying, I had no control over where the plane was going, or, as I experienced on my journey home, no control of when the plane would take off, which flights would be cancelled, and even, to an extent, how I would eventually get home. Much of the time throughout my trip I didn’t know what I would be having for my next meal, and it didn’t even bother me. There were shops, I had money; it would work out. I had a list of a few things I for sure wanted to see and do, most of which I got to, but other than that, I was fine with wandering around the city, seeing what would strike my (or my friend and traveling buddy’s) fancy. We stayed in a hostel in London and at my friend’s flat in Edinburgh. Hostels aren’t exactly the most glamorous of accommodations, but it worked out (mostly) fine.

Everything didn’t always go well. At one point I threw up at the South Kensington Tube station (which is actually quite a funny story). I didn’t get to check every single thing off my to-do list. My trip home took nearly 3 times as long as it should have.

Yet, I survived, and when someone asks me how my trip was, I can wholeheartedly say, “It was fantastic.” Even though I was on a continent I had never seen before, I had no control over many situations, and had no hint of a plan, it all worked out. And it was wonderful.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Lesson from a Zombie (or a movie about them, anyway)

The movie Zombieland gives rules for how to survive should there be a zombie apocalypse. Practical advice, to be sure, my favorite of which being the rule “Enjoy the Little Things.”

Such a simple concept, to enjoy the little things, yet it’s been something I have been failing miserably at lately. There is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to find piles of stuff per day to smile at if only I make the choice to notice them. Today I was driving in my car, singing along to the CD, and it struck me–that brings me happiness. Quite a lot of it, actually. I ate a piece of cake tonight. Cake makes me smile. I saw people that I enjoy, made plans with a friend I haven’t seen in far too long, wore an outfit I’d been looking forward to wearing…these are all small things, but they make me happy.

I think we miss out on a ton when we choose to only get happy about little things. God made everything–the big happy things, like weddings and news of new babies, but he also made the little happy things, like cake and red shoes. There’s nothing wrong (and perhaps everything right) in taking notice of the little things and choosing to be happy about them. Big bad things are so very easy to find when we look at the world around us, but when we’re aware of them, little good things are all around too. It’s just a matter of what you’re looking for.

So take a lesson from a movie about zombies. Enjoy the little things.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~