It feels like forever since I’ve written, at least words that really mean something to me. I keep putting it off without having an actual good excuse to keep me from this space.
I turned 32 last week. I never imagined being this old when I was younger. I don’t think many of us do. The aged terrain past our 20’s seems so cold, distant, and foreign that we basically slap the ‘old’ stamp on it and forget it will ever exist. But it does.
I also think many of us dream that our lives will be completely together by 30. We will be married, have a wonderful job, kids, a happy home, and maybe even a cute pet scampering around in the yard. We will have celebrations, anniversaries, and a future with permanent love and opportunity.
That doesn’t happen for us all.
Some of us lose those perfect jobs. We lose out on love, be it incomprehensible death or divorce. We find out we are barren or unable to produce children. We can have a grave diagnosis or an uphill battle that turns our lives upside down. At a young age, we are unable to fathom that life is uncontrollable: a relentless cycle of lessons, hard decisions, and nights praying the cup in our hand will dull our aches and anxieties.
I think we can all conclude that 2020 was (and is) the epitome of turbulent and painful realizations for everyone, of any age. She was a slap in the face after eating 12 grapes at midnight; there was so much hope and delight in each of our wishes and prayers. But 2020 decided to pull the rug out from under us.
I remember my January toppling over sideways, right from the start — personal heartache, a world mourning the loss of a legend, and also my loss of a beautiful friend gone way too soon.
And so the months went on, more Jumaji-esque situations and inconceivable reveals that put us, as a whole, under a malignant cloud. We’ve struggled to love our neighbor, to empathize with friends and family, and to recognize our own walls of privilege, immorality, and discrimination.
It’s been a nonsensical loop.
Honestly, I think I was afraid of facing this keyboard because I wasn’t sure what would come out. I’ve truly been struggling through an amalgamation of things during 2020: where am I going, who do I want to be, why do I feel so stuck, and how can I do more? We have been wrestling as a nation, as well as individuals.
I am not naive in thinking I am alone in these emotions and thoughts. Anxiety is the souvenir of 2020, and we each have created our own unique relationship with her.
So, on my 32nd birthday, I blew out my candle and made a wish. I know we aren’t supposed to tell it, but because 2020 has already been so ass-backwards, I might as well offer it up.
I wished to find happiness — which, in Bri terms, means peace. That seemingly unattainable, precious thing that would make life feel a little more bearable.
But as I reflect, sitting now in a dark room with nothing but music and the lights from this screen, I realize like any precious thing — happiness, peace, love — we can’t chase it. We can’t wish for it, or wait for it. We just need to make decisions in our lives that will allow us to move toward them. These decisions may not always be easy, or enjoyable, or suitable to our circumstances, but at some point we have to be brave and move with purpose.
If you love someone, tell them. You never know how much they may need to hear it. And if you don’t love someone, let them go. Allow them, and yourself, to find a different path to happiness, peace, and love.
If you’re plateauing at a job, and aren’t growing and moving forward, actively look for something better. You know how much you are worth, and if you wear that with confidence, opportunities will reveal themselves. And no one else can define your worth — a reassuring, but rough understanding that slips my mind all of the time– so show people what you’ve got. Work damn hard, and show everyone, including yourself, that no 2020-pandemic-wreckage can stop you. Young, scrappy, and hungry.
So, I wished to find happiness, to find peace. I didn’t realize they are right in front of me, within me.
They are my indomitable will, my perseverance, my generosity, my stubbornness, even my sensitivity. You have to play the cards you were dealt.
where am I going— I’ve sat too long with this notion of ‘getting out’, but with zero plan. I allow each year since I’ve been back in my hometown to fade, exceedingly growing comfortable. But it’s not comfort — it’s just familiarity. It’s my job to point my compass towards that happiness of growing and breaking free of the cocoon that has allowed me to heal. I was never meant to stay, but to restart.
who do I want to be— memorable. Don’t we all? I want to do big things, create and move people, bring people the peace and joy I seek. Funny enough, bringing a smile to someone else’s face quickly brings one to mine. But I don’t necessarily want to live my life pleasing people. I’ve been really good at that for too long. “People pleaser” so to speak. I don’t ever want to be a selfish person, but maybe a pinch of selfish can mix well with my soul. I’d also like to throw in clever, resourceful, and confident. A friend once told me that we can always put a brave face on, dawn a cape, and fake it til we make it, but I’d like to continue working on the real deal — that authentic confidence that can’t be questioned.
why do I feel so stuck— If I’m honest, like we all should be with ourselves, I’m not always making the best decisions, not really. It’s such little things, too, but they add up. Time is such a priceless commodity; I cherish it above all else. But sadly, I waste so much of it. There are some things we all have to face that are holding us back, and the decision to move them out of the way isn’t always the easiest. We grow roots, become swept in our routines, and breaking these acts, especially during such an already uncertain time, can seem scary. But what is scarier: Losing out in the long term, or pushing past a difficult barrier in the present? We each know the answer, and we all just need that courage to pull ourselves from the quicksand we have obstinately planted ourselves in.
how can I do more— This, right now. This. Being real with yourself. I can do more by expecting more of myself where I know more of me can grow, and stretch, and breath. So can anyone. We are as great as we allow ourselves to be. I can do more by believing in my ability and not getting in my own way.
So, in essence, it is me, it is us, who make our happiness and peace. I forget this more than I should, and it just takes a swift little wish of a candle to remind me that wishes are sweet, but they are only there to remind us what we want to fight for, not wait for. Fight for your happiness. Fight for your peace. Only allow the love you know you deserve to come pouring in.
Maybe there is hope for 2020 yet.
Love, B. R. Banos