I was going to write a listicle about all the things I’d learned before this momentous birthday, but I already do that for a living:
I took a Content Strategy course on Coursera last year. Sharing is good content strategy. Titling my blog posts with #numbers was not.
Anyway, this last year was the kind of beautiful mess that can only be honoured in freeform writing. I’m listening to Bittersweet Symphony as I write this which I now realise has shaped the direction and tone of this post. When I left Groupon last year, this song was playing in my Uber. Ominous, serendipitous. I don’t know. But I love this song. You should read the story on Wikipedia about how they didn’t get any royalties for this song. That kind of circular, tragic irony – it’s a figurative* bittersweet symphony. You can’t plan something like that.
*I’ve been watching Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
1. There is beauty in the good and bad things.
I am now going to segue into that listicle because it feels appropriate.
I wrote parts of this post last year in July. I didn’t publish it – or anything else – because I didn’t know how to give it enough nuance so that it didn’t turn out to be commentary on any one thing going on in my life. I love messy stories. I do. I thought I did. The beauty of the human spirit and all that.
I was part of a course last year – on the last day, we were supposed to bring a memento to class and talk about it. As the day wore on, stories became more emotional and we were aware that this was something pretty special. We asked questions, we offered hugs, some tears were shed.
After it was done, one guy noted that no one had asked him anything about his story. That happens. There are some things you just don’t talk about.
It’s an experience that’s stuck with me. All the stories that aren’t shared, when we live in a time where relatability and authenticity are our markers of true quality content. (#contentstrategy) I want to think that I love messy stories, but I don’t always love the messy people who come with them. I grew up with messy people, and I always thought that was just them. But now I’m an adult, with other adult friends, and this is the thing I have learned.
Nuance is hard.
2. I write puns not tragedies.
I also went for a poetry reading last year, where the host introduced one of the featured poets as ‘one of the most resilient people I know.’ Her poem was beautiful, and I teared up because whiskey on an empty-ish stomach loosens the grip you have on your stone cold persona.
But resilient is one of those words that give me conflicting feelings, along with ‘well-adjusted‘. Who do you use those words to describe?
I read this thing that Bojack Horseman’s writer Raphael Bob-Waksberg posted on social media, where our generation’s greatest literary works are being written: (nuance!)
It’s not the calm before the storm that frightens me, it’s the calm that follows.
I watched a lot of television this year. I read a lot. I’d come home from work and lie down on the floor and listen to music I loved. When you’re a freshly baked adult, you forget that you can still do these things. In the past few years, I’ve become a more extroverted person. A lot of that came about from work; meetings, emails, people, being a full-time rah rah rah person. It was draining. I’d go to bed at 8pm. I’m a night person. It was all wrong.
And then one day, I woke up and realised that it didn’t feel wrong anymore. I want to say that this realisation took me on a journey of intense introspection and self-discovery, but it was mostly panic punctuated by me remembering that I wanted all this uncertainty punctuated by more panic.
When I started writing this post, I thought it was going to be about how I read 100 books in 2016 and became the kind of person who does daily pilates and eats salads regularly. (These are actual facts that I am taking the opportunity to state here.)
Panic! is good.
Maybe I’ll write a serious post next year.