Photo taken by me this Saturday
“In everything give thanks. . ” has been ringing through my head lately(1 Thes 5:18). Sometimes I wish I was someone who felt less or not as strongly or didn’t care or need to have a family and a more fulfilling, challenging job. But I am what I am and I am where I am. It helps to remember to be thankful and give thanks for all things, for where I am and for simply being alive and breathing in the crisp, Chicago air.
Certain moments make the feeling of being painfully alone rise to the surface. Something about coming home from the airport with no one to pick me up does that. Struggling with carrying multiple grocery bags does that too. I think, yes I’m tough and independent, but sometimes I don’t want to be. I’ve even had the dramatic thought that if something happened to me and I were in the hospital, no one would visit me(hopefully not true).
I was starting to feel that way Sunday after as I left Mariano’s grocery store with three heavy brown paper bags full of groceries and my bulky winter coat. I had to pause every block or so to rest my arms, take off more layers etc. I think I was telling the Lord about it too. The train station was still a ways off, when a van pulled up by me at a stoplight. A middle-aged man, asked if I wanted a ride. Of course I had to assess whether I’d come out of this ride alive. Somehow, I had the sense that this man was a decent human being just trying to help me out.
We made comfortable small talk and I told him, people like you are one of the reasons I love Chicago. Since I’m writing this, you know the ride ended with me and my groceries intact. That man’s small act of kindness made my day. I think the Lord knew I needed that, some sign that I’m not alone and there’s help.
Currently contemplating a move to Sweden and researching how to get a job there. And a visa. I need to make a big, momentous change in my life to match the unsettled, dissatisfaction I feel. While Chicago is my home, I was also hurt here and it’s haunted with memories of someone (my ex) and there’s this urge to move far, far away and start completely afresh. Maybe a whole new life awaits me in Europe. Something about the Scandinavian countries appeal to me. I used to dream of moving to Iceland or at least doing a global residency there for grad school when I met my ex. Somehow that dream got thrown to the wayside. It’s time I throw myself whole heartedly into any unfulfilled, huge dreams I have. It’s on my bucket list to live abroad one day and why not now?
Too often my own negative mindset or self doubt holds me back, but the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized the truth of if the mind believes it, you can achieve it. I can move to Sweden if I really want to. It’s not that hard. I’d just get a job and start applying for a visa.
Same with any other life change I want to make. It’s easy to conjure up excuses for not doing something. I don’t have time being a big one. But, we make time for what we want to. This week I started making more time by waking up earlier. Now I wake up around 6:50am, 7:15am naturally when I used to struggle to get out of bed after my alarm went off at 8am. I love that I’m waking up without an alarm clock and feeling rested and ready to conquer the day. Next, I’m going to schedule a concrete hour to work on freelance stories after I wake up. Hey, or maybe on job apps in Sweden.
I really saw that this doesn’t have to be me, lethargic and listless post-breakup, I can really shine like my classmate has. (Photo by Scott)
Something about having a heart that’s been freshly wounded makes me more empathetic and emotional, prone to feeling things deeply. I caught up with a Medill classmate on Friday. I wasn’t trying to pry, but it quickly came out that she was going through a divorce last year. I had no idea. As I rode the train and ventured about downtown this weekend there was this thought that people around me are carrying pain and heartache that I don’t know about. Everyone can see if you’ve broken your arm or sometimes if you have a serious medical condition, but no one can see the injuries we acquire just going through life, from other people and life. I’m not casting blame here, the end of a relationship or a marriage is often a two way street and in having that kind of intimate relationship with someone, you knowingly assume the risk of getting hurt. You take on that liability. To love someone is to also give them the power to destroy you, or at the very least, to hurt you terribly in a way no one else can.
The sun backlit my classmate and everything she said caused her to shine even brighter. Her way of dealing with her divorce was to throw herself into her work. She woke up at 6am everyday, Monday through Friday, and put in two hours of LSAT studying before work and two hours in the evening. It paid off of course. I left our coffee date feeling inspired and encouraged! Talk about being strong and turning life’s lemons into lemonade, lemon pie, you name it!
Seeing her so very successfully doing what I’ve been trying to do (using this time to lean into my career) freshly motivated me. I want to try waking up earlier and consistently putting in the hours to craft and sell my pitches and perhaps resurrect my old goal of teaching myself more coding. It’s all about putting in the time. Time for me to create a schedule and prioritize.
What are you doing today to make your dreams a reality? That’s my motto. When my sister asked what can you do about your concerns, the answer was easy: apply to jobs and something personal I can’t mention here. Just know that I’m making progress in both my career goals and love life. Leaning into my career and taking care of myself Sheryl Sandberg style is how I’m moving forward.
Speaking of Sheryl Sandberg, I recommend her book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.” In the wake of loss, a breakup, divorce, death or other hardship you wish you could go back to what you had before, but that’s no longer an option. You have to kick the sh** out of option B instead. Her words, not mine.
Her stories about different difficulties people encountered and how they persisted were so encouraging. Resilience comes from moving past the three P’s: Personalization, Pervasiveness and Permanence. They refer to the beliefs that what happened was your fault (personalization), that it will affect all areas of your life (pervasiveness) and that the aftershocks of the event will last forever (permanence). I’m definitely guilty of the last one. I question if I’ll always be this sad and whether my happiness will always be tinged with an undercurrent of sadness. But, it’s a fact that I won’t always feel this way. Gottta give myself credit for how strong I’ve been and all the days I kill it at work and in life.
Taking action reveals that these inner fears aren’t true. Instead of remaining in my worry or anxiety, doing something dispels it. Taking advantage of the snowball effect and rolling with my energy and motivation to greater and greater effect felt so good today. Starting an application for one job today led to completing three. Again, I credit my new favorite blogger “Just Amyllennial” with this idea. Identify what you can do to work with the situation you’ve got.
These days I’m filled with the sense that I’m on the cusp of change. There’s a new job and stories waiting to be done by me. I’ve made some promising connections with fellow Medill alumni that will help me publish and sell freelance stories. Stay tuned.
The view from ice skating downtown last night as captured by my friend on his Instagram.
Odd things trigger my sadness. This morning I was praying and reading over the morning revival on Christ and the church and how the love between God and His people is primarily like the affectionate love between a man and a woman. I didn’t want to continue reading. I know it sounds odd, but it reminded me of my breakup and what I don’t have anymore. So I stopped reading and prayed instead.
Yet other days like yesterday are pretty blissful. I was out the whole day, at church, at a lunch in Evanston at a house with a dog and then ice skating and dinner downtown with a group of friends from church and my roommate. It felt like my ex didn’t exist and my breakup hadn’t happened.
Enough about him. The twinges of sadness pass and come back and pass again. Everyone keeps telling me it takes time. Life takes time. Accomplishing my goals is tied to the passage of time. I’ve applied to new jobs and journalism fellowships, but it takes time to hear back. It takes time to meet someone new. I’ll admit I’m impatient and wish time would speed up to those moments. The time where I can get my own permanent pet, instead of pet-sitting for friends.
But there’s only grace for today. Read my friend’s touching blog post on not adding unnecessary pain to your life with worrying or anxiety. Worrying accomplishes nothing except getting yourself all worked up about how your current life doesn’t look like the one you want. It doesn’t help you get there. Doing things, applying to jobs, showing up to life and meeting people, and pursuing opportunities, does.
If you’re reading, whoever you are, I welcome your feedback and any suggestions for what to write about!
On a rooftop in London
Hi! If you’re reading I hope you feel engaged with my writing. I think it’d help if you get to know me better (if you aren’t my family and friends that I compel into reading).
I’m Hannah. I’m 28, an age that I can hardly believe is mine. Like my About page says, I’m a lover of people and of the Lord Jesus. Striving to serve God and people by leading them to Him and caring for them is my overarching life’s work. Being a science editor for my local university in Chicago is my day job. Everyday as I walk to work I’m thankful that 1. my commute is so short and I live in a beautiful city and 2. that this job fell from on high and came to me. Thankfully, my current compact apt on the prettiest street in the neighborhood and my two roommates fell from the sky as well. One moment I had no job, no idea of where I’d live and who with and mere weeks later, everything fell seamlessly into place. God’s got my back.
For the first time in 1.5 years, May 2016 to be exact, I’m single again. I’m learning to be present in all the moments of life, joyous and amusing, trying and tear-inducing and to “in everything give thanks” a la 1 Thes 5:18. More so than ever I’m fighting the pessimist within and doing all I can to keep my anxiety about this uncertain season of life at bay.
In the words of my younger sister via text, “You’re very funny and very weird and an extremely caring, non-judgmental person.” I’ll take it. Weird is better than boring. You’re more likely to find me spacing out or daydreaming than ever judging someone. I let people be and take care of me. You can only control yourself.
Join me as I navigate this season of twenty something life in Chi city. As a budding science writer/journalist, this is where you’ll find my personal, creative writing.
Me sporting the busy grad student look in News Graphics and Design class
Prior to my breakup I was fine with the status quo: continuing to live in Chicago, my cushy flexible part-time job and the state of my relationship. For at least a month our relationship was in this grey area where he had technically broken up with me, yet we continued to act the same in every way, minus the label and commitment that comes with actually being together. The past few months have been a time of coming to terms with the direction our relationship was going and cutting myself off from the temptation of still being in contact. Simultaneously, I’ve realized that I’m actually not satisfied with the state of my life and job. My roommate and I eat way too many snacks and frozen Trader Joe’s meals in lieu of cooking dinner. Though if you ask her, she’ll say that I eat more snacks/unhealthily than she does. My job is not busy or challenging enough. I thought I couldn’t wait to finish grad school, but now I’m missing writing news articles and the hunt for a good story. Editing for an ophthalmology department does not give me the same thrill or sense of accomplishment. I want a job where I’m producing creative content.
So going forward here’s my to-do list for 2018:
- Get a new job that I love. Unsure if it’ll be in journalism or in Chicago, we’ll see.
- Cook and eat real food instead of opening bags of snacks and microwaving frozen dinners. This should help with the fact that people have been commenting on how much weight I’ve lost lately and asked for my secrets. Like I said, this breakup is the best weight loss method ever, except I didn’t want to lose weight nor was I trying to. .
- Meet the love of my life this year if I haven’t already. Yes, I’m aware that this one is not fully in my control, but I will show up to every church conference and event possible this year and generally be open to meeting new people through friends or the new job. I’ve learned that I’m good at loving and caring for someone and I look forward to receiving that same level of love and care back. He might be reading this, but I’ve realized my ex was selfish and cared more for himself and his goals than for me. Oh well.
- GET A PET!!!!!! I’ll have made it in life when this happens.
- Publish some news articles this year whether it’s through a job/internship or freelancing.
- Make new memories by exploring Chicago while I’m still here and by having lots of fun with my roommates and group of church friends in our community. Check! Out with the old memories that haunt me and in with the new. My roommate and I have a new ritual of lighting candles and eating TJ’s snacks while watching “The Gates.”
That’s about it. The enormous upside of feeling like your life is in transition is that anything is possible. It’s only onwards and upwards from here.