I love how optimistic I was when I first got here. Everything was new and unsure and so it was easy to believe that I would adore everything about my life. There were so many things to look forward to.
There still are.
But it is no secret that lately I have been struggling to find that optimism again. I can't seem to work up much happiness or contentment. I know that with this audience I don't need to say when this started happening for me. I cannot, however, say with certainty that I wouldn't feel the same way had things gone differently this past month.
When we are feeling down, part of us WANTS to feel that way. It becomes easy to sit down and sink down into the deep, soft, mud of self-pity (points to the person who names what book this is from). Once there, it's hard to muster the motivation to leave even if we know how unhappy wallowing really makes us. We're humans. We weren't meant to wallow. If we're not careful, we might just end up in a puddle of cement instead of mud and the we REALLY can't get out (does that help anybody with the book reference?).
So what are we to do when things get that way? I could tell you all the answers you already know. Instead I am going to tell you about a book. One that Juli lent me when I stopped by her place on my way home from New Hampshire. It's called A Single Voice and it's by Sister Kristin M. Oaks. The tag line is "the unexpected life is no less a life."
Honestly I'm not one to turn to books to solve my problems or for inspiration (unless it's the scriptures). But I was getting bored with all the fiction I was reading. Nothing that I brought with me was inspiring me. Then I saw A Single Voice and thought, "Why not? This might be exactly what I need."
It was and still is. There are a lot of thoughts and insights that only really apply to single females. But there are some things that also apply to everyone.
This morning, as I was reading before I headed to work, I read this. "If you are complaining about your life, it is because you are thinking only of yourself...The most effective medicine for the sickness of self-pity is to lose oneself in the service of others."
This is a quote Sister Oaks included in her book from President-then Elder Hinckley.
I do not delude myself into thinking that I am not being immensely selfish in my wallowing. I should feel nothing but gratitude for being here in Maine gaining the experiences that I am. The truth is, I am only human. I can't force myself to not feel these things. I just have far too much time on my hands.
And yet, I do find that there are times I am able to forget myself, my petty emotions, and find a measure of happiness. So far it's been in little things. Making a gift for a sibling. Writing a letter. Being a supportive ear. Cutting out a new pattern for an envelope. I just wish I could fill my life with more of these little things.
I can. I may not have all the time in the world but I do have my nights. And there are many things I could be doing. I can approach the sisters in my relief society and ask if there is anything that I can do to aid the members of my branch. I have already considered offering my services as a babysitter on date nights. We have several families with young children.
I am not helpless. I am not suffering. I only convince myself that I am. I don't have to feel lonely if I fill my time with other people.
The solution to my lack of optimism and general happiness may seem obvious to those who are more experienced in this life than I. Service is a principal I have been told much of my life. The difference this time is that I understand the truth of this council.
This book has begun to change my life and the way I look at it. I'm not saying I know I am going to be like Sister Oaks: Single until I get into my 50's. I don't have to give up searching for a companion. But I also don't have to sit passively and watch my life slip away as I wait for him to show up.
I am going to study for the GRE as soon as I can get my hands on some materials. I want to take it in the late summer/early fall. I want to apply to grad school. I don't like the deadlines of homework and tests, but I love learning and feeling my knowledge expand. I might not get accepted. This might not be my path. But I can't keep standing idly by watching opportunities come and go.
I can't keep waiting for things to be easy. I can't assume that what I want will be handed to me. I can't hope that everything will turn out right because it's "what's supposed to happen". Maybe I did make a hasty decision in coming here. But I am going to make the most of that decision.
I just hope that I can keep this fire within me. I hope I can act on what I feel right now. I hope I can follow through.
And as a last thought, I know R/L ate my ice cream and that IS annoying. But every other thing that bothers me about her is because of ME. I need to put myself in her situation. It's hard living with someone when you've lived alone for so long. I can't keep assuming that the tone she uses with me isn't just the way she talks. I don't know much about her still and I shouldn't assume that I know how she feels. I might still be casually looking for a place to live that is closer to work but maybe I wont be able to leave the view that I have from the house. Maybe I won't be able to give up having a spacious room with lots of light and some furniture. Maybe I can find therapy in getting over myself and live with R/L for the rest of my time here.
Maybe not. But at least I can try.
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