“Why, what’s the matter,― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
New Year’s day might fall on January 1st, but February is when the year really begins. It’s when the shock of the calendar change wears off and the work can begin. It’s when the year begins to become itself, what it will be and not what we had hoped or wished it would be instead.
January was squandered while we recovered from the holidays but come February 1st, we all got a second chance to begin. All you needed was the courage and resolve to do so. But if you didn’t, those resolutions may feel long gone and failure may have firmly set in now that March has come. Some of those failures will have to be accepted. The time for do-overs has passed, but there is time yet to change, to adjust, to begin anew now, if you want.
For me, there have certainly been failures already. There is a lot I haven’t started yet and plenty I suppose I’ll never start now. At the same time, a few small steps were made and I’m exceedingly proud of what I’ve done and still resolve to do this year.
In fact, through March my plan is to keep on doing what I’ve been doing, only now I need to work on doing it a little more, and a little better, and with a little more courage.
But before I do, here is what I am currently…
Writing my journal entries, every day, but not much more if I’m honest. February was a bad writing month but not from lack of want. I just had too much else to do. Those daily journal entries may not be much, and they may not even be very good, but I am proud of myself for writing them. They’re better than nothing at all and they’re already beginning to add up. I am working on a real piece for Zen and Pi that I’m pretty excited about and I’m thinking again of writing a book.
Making the most of my time. I’m working on mastering the art of “deep work” but scheduling more than a couple of hours of creative focus at a time while working a split shift at my day job has been difficult. I’ve had to examine closely the ways I use social media and my phone in general and accept hard truths about the kind of work I want to be doing vs. the kind of “work” I have actually been doing. I’ve removed time-sucking apps from my home screen and replaced them with apps that rouse my brain cells, feed my curiosity, and inspire me to write more. I’ve started using timers and I’m learning to take my ambitions seriously. I’m making progress.
Planning a wedding! I’ve been planning my wedding for quite a long time now but this month I finally took the first concrete steps toward having a wedding. We have a ceremony site, a venue for our reception, and we settled on invitations and colors. We’re terrified and regretting the decision not to elope but we’re doing it and it’s going to be wonderful, and even if it isn’t wonderful, we’ll still be happy because we’ll be married which is all we really want, anyway.
Anticipating Springtime! It’s in February that I first start to feel the first hints of the change to come though I can’t tell from where the feeling comes. Nothing looks any different. The weather is still as cold and dreary as it was last month, but I no longer feel as though the frozen abyss will go on forever. I feel a slow vibration building beneath the leftover layers of snow and ice. I know soon something beautiful will grow there and I’m eager to meet it.
Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson. February was not as good of a reading month as January was and I think it’s because I read so much in January that I have slacked off. I think I burned myself out. Not only that, but those last few books were pretty easy and these two are really challenging me. I’m slowly finding my groove with Garcia, but Dickinson is testing me every step of the way.
Watching the third season of True Detective on HBO, the last season of Shameless on Showtime, oh, and The Umbrella Academy on Netflix, all three of which I highly recommend but besides that, I’m trying not to watch much else. TV has been taking up a lot of my evenings and I always feel guilty for wasting so much time. I’ll always watch my favorite shows, and even binge-watch the ones that interest me the most, but I won’t put on just anything to pass the time. All time is valuable and must be filled or used intentionally.
Feeling left behind. For the past few years many of my closest and most inspiring coworkers, people I consider friends, who motivated and encouraged me and who I tried my best to motivate and encourage too, have all been finding bigger and better opportunities while I have continued to go on doing what I have always done. I do like my job, and I am good at it too, but I long to find some big new opportunity too. I long to follow a dream and to be able to say to the world that I made it.
Fearing a lot less than I have in the past. I wouldn’t say I’m more confident but I’m certainly less concerned. I’m developing a “so what?” attitude. So what if it’s ugly? So what if I’m unworthy? So what if I fail, look stupid, or even get a little hurt? So what? I’ll move on and at least I’ll know. And, to be honest, at this point whatever it is I’m afraid will happen is no worse than to go on living life as someone who never even tried.
Reflecting on this Ezra Klein podcast in which he interviews Kate Manne, professor of philosophy at Cornell University, author of Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, and my new favorite person. Manne argues that we should define misogyny, not as something men feel, but something that women experience. This simple statement, this simple change in perspective is exactly what we need to take the fight against not just misogyny but racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and all other forms of discrimination and oppression. It’s the mind shift that people who participate in those systems need to take in order to move from a place of defensiveness into a place where they can acknowledge, accept, and change their behaviors without the people who experience discrimination and oppression having to expend any more emotional labor than they already have.
Needing more writerly friends. I’m shy by nature and paradoxically more so online. There are tons of writers and creatives I follow across quite a few social media accounts but I have no idea how to approach any of them. I don’t know how to start a conversation or how to add to one already happening. I’m star struck by them all and I don’t feel like I deserve the attention of the ones who bother to follow me back. I long for people in my life who are on the same journey as me and understand the difficulty and the importance of what I dream of one day doing.
Learning all about social norms and social change on Coursera. The course is offered by the University of Pennsylvania & UNICEF so, besides learning about expectations, sanctions, and choice, I’m also learning more about real-world practices, attitudes, and motives behind child marriage, female genital mutilation, and open defecation. I’m looking at my culture differently and adjusting my perspective not so much on some of these deplorable practices of other cultures but on the people who practice them. Human society is exceedingly complex, and harder to change than we imagine. I’m looking forward to beginning Social Norms, Social Change II next week and learning even more!
Hating the common workplace practice of putting more work on people who have shown excellence and enthusiasm simply because they can handle it, especially in workplaces where that added excellence and workload don’t translate into additional pay or benefits. In my experience, these uneven expectations often hurt women more than men, the latter often assuming that what is hard for them to do isn’t as hard for others. If you ever hear yourself saying someone else should do something rather than you because they “know more about it” or because they are “better at it” please stop for a moment and consider whether what you are doing is fair or right. Take a moment to consider that it is you who should do better, try harder, and live up to the expectation you have of this other person instead.
Loving love. Most people I know either hate Valentine’s day or they think it’s stupid. Many of my friends are single or they’re long-term couples who forego celebrating the season of love because they believe it’s a shallow expression of emotion and it conveys a superficial understand and what it means to spend your life with another person. But I—a hopeless and eternal romantic— cannot resist. Of course, romantic love between two (or more) people should be acknowledged, celebrated, and strengthened every day but I still love having one day a year to celebrate love not just with my partner alone but with couples all over the world, together.
Hoping for an opportunity to present itself soon. I need a break, a sign, a chance to take a leap. I need a little validation, something to show off, something to be proud of. I know opportunities like that don’t just drop into a person’s lap and I know if I want to go somewhere it’s me that has to do the moving, but still, wouldn’t it be grand to be one of the lucky ones? I’ll do the work, but I’ll go on hoping for a miracle too.
So, yeah, all in all, February was a good month. I got to go on a trip. I got to celebrate love with my love and a few friends who are in love too. I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped but I did a lot more than nothing. I’m proud, or at least I’m content, and I’m ready to move on, to leave February behind, and to greet March with enthusiasm and pride.
But what about you? How did February treat you? Did you celebrate love with a special someone? Are you as tired of winter as me?
Let me know in the comments.
The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love
Photo by Michael Hacker on Unsplash