Thursday, April 28, 2016

For When You Don't Feel Seen

For When You Don't Feel Seen post from Young Yankee Lady

My regular customers are the best part of my day job. 

We have one guy who works at Turbocam, and comes in to buy lunch a couple times a week. I brilliantly call him the Turbocam guy (I actually do know his name through some clever credit card stalking, but it's useless since the facebook search options have decided to fail me). He's got light brown hair, a normal, clean cut beard, and almost always wears a plaid flannel shirt. He comes in just before noon, always goes through express, and often has an older friend with him.

He's sweet, and quiet, and attractive, so I have a standing agreement with the express cashier that she puts on her light and pretends to need something so I can walk over when he's in line. It's all very sneaky, and subtle to the point that (sigh) he's probably never noticed. But I go to great pains to show off my management skills (look how fast I can make a void!), or make some stupid joke. Sometimes I even look right at him and say, "how are you?". I guess you could say it's getting pretty serious.

In the daily grind of our lives, it's easy to slip off into our own little world. We make coffee in our quiet house and commute with just the radio for company. We're tight with our coworkers, but only until 5 o'clock. The line behind us doesn't care about our day or our goals or that we think we're getting a cold. And it's always the nights we're feeling extra antsy that no friends are free. 

There's a lot of joy that comes from going at life solo. Making our own routines, not looking to anyone else for a schedule. But there's also a lot of anxiety, and loneliness, and mundane-ness, too. And while we may be completely content with our lives, it can start to feel like you're just one in a sea of a million, unobserved, and easily replaceable. 

But we'll never be completely aware of who notices us. We miss the sideways glances and the fact that they see us the minute we walk in the door. Someone somewhere knows our order by heart, loves the way our jeans fit, and legitimately looks forward to our regular Tuesday stop-ins. And yet we remain oblivious, too busy worrying about the frowning woman behind us and all we have to get done and whether or not we'll die alone.

Connection isn't found by scrolling through Humans of New York. It's found by being an active, present Human of the Here and Now. It's found by not simply stopping at 'good' when we're asked how we are, and by noticing the regulars in our community. We connect over the little things, the mundane rituals that get us through the week. The things we think only matter to us, but others learn to expect.

Turbocam guy probably just comes in looking forward to his sub. Perhaps he looks forward to our awkward joke exchange, too. But even if he's completely unaware that it's the same girl every time, his patience and smile and presence has added warmth to a sea of brusque, strange people. It's a connection that couldn't be any smaller, and yet feels so very deep. 

Don't ever think that you aren't seen. Somewhere, a cashier has a nickname for you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Knoxville, Part 2

Part 1.

I'm just going to say it: I was actually really disappointed with myself about my Knoxville ProSkater audition.

I felt like I wasn't friendly enough. Bright enough. Good enough. Like I wasted an opportunity to make a great first impression by selling myself short.

And, yes. I still feel that way. Next year, there's a lot of things I'll be doing differently.

But there will be a next year. As I was processing my disappointment over these past few weeks, it sparked a shift in my own thoughts. I will stay committed to my dreams. To my goals. I will keep working hard, keep improving, keep experimenting until I hit on where I need to be. 

Throughout highschool, continuing to skate and putting 'Disney on Ice' as my goal was shiny, exciting, and very, very far off. This year, my first out of school, has been scary and stressful for the simple fact that now, I need to actually make something happen. And that's a huge jump to make.

But I'm in the process of shifting my attitude. Regardless of the fact I didn't get a job from this particular audition, I'm proud that I went. I'm proud I put myself out there and tried something new. I didn't leave with a job, but I left with the tools to keep trying to get one. And while in the moment that felt disappointing, I'm realizing that's a huge step, too.

Knoxville brought to light a couple of key takeaways:

I am building a whole life.

Don't get tunnel vision to the point that you hurt yourself. I'm focusing on being healthy and happy on the ice, but also off the ice with church, coaching, writing, and being social. There's a lot of life to live, and I don't want to miss an opportunity because I was hyper-focused on one path.

Which brings me to...

There is no one path.

Every presenter in Knoxville had a different story. There were only three common factors between them: they worked hard, they were open to opportunities, and they loved skating. Outside of that, every single one was wildly different.

I've never been 'normal' a single day in my life. I was homeschooled K-12 in a conservative church of Christ home where we had horses instead of dogs and should chickens through 4-H instead of selling girl scout cookies. Never in my life have I taken the busy road, so why would I start now? Rather than worrying about the things I feel I should have done, I'm focusing on actively doing great things now. I'm excited for my path to be different.

I have not even come close to trying. Not yet.

And I mean that in the most positive way possible.

My initial reaction coming home from Knoxville was, "WHAaaaaatTTTT will I do nooooowwww?! I'm done! Done! Unwanted! Washed up! I will never make it! I tried. Yes, I tried this one singular time, and that's it! They did not want me! They will never want me! I missed my shot."

I don't care what your goal is, but at 19, that monologue will never (ever) be accurate.

There is so much more room for me. So much more room for me to grow, mature, put things out there, and chase other opportunities. I have not even scratched the surface on chasing this goal, which means I have amazing options in front of me, and that is very exciting.

I was on the ice for three and a half blissful hours yesterday. My senior moves are on the brink of peaking again for my test in two weeks. I landed five double salchows after a horrible few weeks of not landing any, and I was *this* close to landing a double toe-loop. Yesterday was such a fantastic day, and I'm still beaming about it.

I have control of my life. Often, I freak out and fully believe I don't. But I'm getting better at stopping when that happens, figuratively poking me ribs, and saying: No. You are in control of the choices you are making, and you have the power to keep making choices that bring you towards your goals.

And isn't that an amazing thing to be grateful for?

Happy Thursday! xoxo