A mantra is an audible call to reconnect yourself to your spirit, the foundation of your strength and ability to navigate hardship. Mantras originated in Buddhism as a word or sound to repeat in meditation. They can be anything, really: a single word, a specific phrase, or whatever you need to return to a present mind under pressure.
When I really sit in it — what I want the next mantra to be — what comes to the forefront is an idea so specific to this year and this time in my life, that I can only trust those reading this column will find it speaks to them, too. Instead of listing out every facet of my life and dissecting it, my usual end of year protocol, I’ve pulled back to a far, far less microscopic view of myself, my community, and my existence. The phrase that jumps out at me, and gives me the most clarifying and empowering breath right now is this: I’ve had it all wrong.
I’ve had it all wrong: I’m actually thriving
I’ve looked at every corner of my life for years, with a pessimistic Sherlock eye, and glazed over miles and miles of rich, abundant growth. I’ve pushed wonderful new flowers aside, only to zero in on weeds. Beyond selective abstraction, I’ve also woven narratives with little to no evidence. I’ve let the shitty rookie detective in my brain create clues out of the inconsequential; I’ve built tension in a vacuum, surrendered my peace of mind for pennies. I’ve allowed myself to change my gait with others, even when nothing has transpired.
It’s only when I step back and turn on a light that I see my life is flush with stability, support, and a personal charisma I’ve refused to recognize. I’m not a hundred miles behind everyone else, and I’m not the psychological wreck I’ve told myself I am for a long time. There’s nothing wrong with me, it’s just that I’m painfully human, and more sensitive than I’d like to admit. Pulling back from a knee jerk instinct to dwell on mistakes, I see someone who’s drowning in an inch of water. Lift your head, Idiot. This is a puddle, not the Atlantic.
I’ve had it all wrong: I already am who I’ve been trying to be
What a treat it will be to get to know my own life as an outsider: The equivalent of someone who put off watching Six Feet Under for a decade and is now reaping the benefits of a damn good show, while also feeling very dumb for waiting so long. Getting to clear out the cobwebs — like the kind of cleaning day where you put on LadyTron and happily get dirt all over your sweats — it almost feels like I’m getting away with a crime to decide I’m currently my best self. “I object, your honor!” screams the vision of my mother in my head, with a scroll as long as Santa’s listing the opposing evidence. In reality, my mother has been standing in the rafters cheering her ass off for me for years, she just happens to use honesty like a blunt object, and I’m a sensitive lady.
I’ve had it all wrong: you have to have faith
Trying to go to sleep last night, I felt a swirl of worries haunt my bed. A text left without a response is now the ghost of Jacob Marley, getting his chains all over my fucking comforter. The only way to fall asleep was to tell myself: You’re wrong and you know it. I come from a long line of worst case scenario worry-warts, so “having faith” is like learning to drive a stick — it doesn’t come naturally if you weren’t taught it first. If I could have the kind of nonchalant attitude I have about The Big One (a not-so-irrational fear of the massive life-altering earthquake looming over all Angelenos due at literally any moment) for every other area of my life, I’d be a tyrant with my boot on all of your necks, limitless potential for power would ultimately lead to my own corruption. There are no guarantees, and I spent far too long spinning my wheels waiting for them. You just have to have faith in yourself and the people in your life.
I’ve had it all wrong: my support system is deep rooted
Every great moment I had this year exceeded my expectations. The reality of what my community has to offer me, in terms of acceptance, support, and real love, was beyond anything my self-esteem would’ve ever allowed me to conjure. The priceless gift of the realization that my thoughts are not the truth, releases me to spend time with people without the veil of tension I had always subconsciously placed over these exchanges. I’m free to fully accept the love that’s been present for awhile, and acknowledge that I actually am understood. I never imagined being so grateful to be proven wrong.
I’ve had it all wrong: I killed it this year
And wouldn’t you know, it’s taking some convincing to accept that. My interpretation of my life was a subpar Cliff notes that skipped the best passages. While I was distracted by the “failing” corners, I was accomplishing goals, getting quality time with my people, and keeping things afloat. I wrote a lot, while lamenting to myself during downtime that “I need to be writing.” I lived my life as well as I could: did my honest best, was more vulnerable than ever before, and took a big career risk. What more could I have wanted from myself?
I’ve had it all wrong: the world is my goddamn oyster
So I surrender. I’ve had it all very, very wrong. I’m currently pivoting my resources from internal analysis to external experience and I’m feeling good about the potential profits. I’m happy to smash the glass on every item kept in hibernation for the thrilling time when I’m “ready” —that time is now. I’ll just have faith and see how it goes.