Several months ago, I came home to find a stack of cardboard boxes blocking the front door to my apartment. This, of course, is not a rare sight for me. Since Amazon Prime came into my life, my front door has essentially been a daily minefield of packages, all wrapped up in that familiar blue Amazonian tape. The contents of these boxes, by the way, are often mysteries to me. Sometimes I open one thinking it's going to be something sensible like eye cream, but it turns out to be a geode or a whole bunch of gold thumbtacks that I inexplicably ordered in the middle of the night. The point is: I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon, but so do you probably.
Anyway, on this particular day, the packages blocking my door were not my usual buy-now-with-one-click Prime purchases. Instead, they were a bit...special. Here's what was in them:
If you can't tell, those are the printed pre-order copies of my book: Lifeless Pile of Mush!
About a year ago, I wrote a blog post announcing that I was planning to release a book -- one that you could touch and smell, with pages you could dog-ear and spill coffee on. Now here in these boxes lived the fulfillment of that announcement. It was essentially a box full of dreams come true.
And you know, I would like to say that I jumped for joy. I would like to say that, upon seeing these books, I attempted my first ever somersault, popped ten consecutive party-poppers, and high-fived a ghost. I would like to say that I called up that one kid I knew in 7th grade, and said, "Hey, it's Christy. Remember me? The girl you once said looked like a hairy snake? Well, guess what? THIS HAIRY SNAKE WROTE A BOOK!"
Sure, I would love to say that I did all of those things. But I didn't. Instead, I stood there for a moment, thumbed through one of the books, and eventually pushed the boxes to a corner of my living room. I would get to them tomorrow.
It's not that I wasn't excited. Let the record show that I was indeed excited. After all, I poured a hefty amount of life force into creating that book -- drafting it, annotating it, formatting it, replacing sort-of-funny words with more-funny words. Plus, thanks to the cover design by Tim Bauer, it is absolutely stunning. I'm confident that if all of the pages were just filled with the phrase "I'm a big ol' hairy snake" people would still want to put it on their coffee table. And let's be real: that is pretty much all I am looking for.
So why no jumping? Why no somersaults? Well...it's complicated.
A year ago, I imagined that receiving these books would be the physical representation of the completion of my life's biggest dream. And in a way, they were exactly that. However, along with being a symbol of completion, the sight of these books also felt a lot like a symbol of change.
The truth is life has been strikingly different for me lately. If you check in here every once in a while, you may have noticed that I haven't written in this blog for over eight months. (I can't for the life of me remember the last time I went more than a month in my adult life without blogging.) As I have mentioned in previous posts, I started a grad program in mental health counseling, and needless to say, it's been busy. I won't bore you with details of my busyness because everyone is busy, and to be entirely honest, it's probably one of my least favorite topics of conversation. But the point is: it's been a lot. And more important, it's been a new type of a lot.
When I started this program, I thought, "Oh, no big deal. I'll just integrate writing with psychotherapy. I'll make a hybrid career, and it will be easy. Perhaps I'll even have time for yoga."
But I have not had time for yoga. Or top notch hygiene, for that matter.
In fact, as is expected during a masters program, my life has been all but taken over by school. Along with my studies, I started a position as a graduate assistant, I am in the midst of my clinical fieldwork, and I have a whole heapin' helpin' of clients in my care. On an almost daily basis, I use words like "countertransference," "psychodynamic," and "neural integration." Hell, I recently submitted a fifteen-page paper titled "A Perspective of Holism: Subject Analysis Through Individual Psychology." Next month, I'll be presenting RESEARCH at a conference! WITH DATA AND STUFF!
The point is a whoooooooole lot about my life is different -- from the way I spend my time to the language I use to the things I care about. Sometimes I feel as though I must have somehow slipped into an alternate reality. A few months ago, I was a writer. Today, I am very much a therapist.
And when those books showed up on my doorstep, that fact seemed to crystalize. Opening the packages felt somewhat like opening a gift from my former self. My writer self -- the quirky lady with the kooky, creative day job. Perhaps every author feels like that when they first hold the final copy of their book in their hands. That feeling of wait what, did I actually make this???? (Seasoned authors, can you weigh in on this please?)
However, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is less about the book and more about what the book represents: the fact that I was one thing and now I am something else.
And being something else is scary.
It involves being a living example of a concept that we always believe to be theoretically true but struggle sometimes to prove: that people can change. It's a double whammy, in fact, because not only can people change, but YOU can change. And you have changed, and now nothing will ever be the same. (It's perhaps not as dramatic as all that, but you catch my drift.)
Stranger still, sometimes change can be entirely internal. Sometimes you can wear the same sweatshirt every day and eat the same avocado on toast for breakfast and appear, by all accounts to those in your life, completely and utterly the same. And yet, there is something different. Something significantly, intangibly different. And tomorrow, you are thinking about adding some sriracha to that toast.
All of that said, change is weird. We are right to resist it. It is uncomfortable and draining and, no one tells you this, but it also tends to be accompanied by emergent wrinkles under your eyes.
But on the flip side, change is also beautiful, wonderful, necessary, and if nothing else, natural.
And that's sort of where I'm at right now. In the natural place. The place that is built on a sturdy enough foundation even though it lacks some refinement. I like it here, and I think I'll stay a while.
So as I have historically done at the end of these blog posts, I want to extend the same permission for others that I am trying to extend to myself: it's okay if you are changing. It's okay if life looks all kinds of different than you thought it would. It's okay if your goals, expectations, relationships, or interests change shapes entirely. It's okay.
At least that's what I'm telling myself.