I'm currently outside of my Orlando apartment smoking a cigarette (I know, terrible habit) and enjoying the air and the sound of the cars passing by as I'm brought back to a moment in my life. One that I share with one other person that is on the other side of the earth. This time last year, I would be doing the same thing on a bench across the street from my college apartment in Oklahoma with my then-roommate.
When life got hard, we would look at each other and just somehow know. I'd get the wine or screwdrivers and she'd get the cigarettes. We'd walk across the street, sit on the bench, drink a glass and smoke a few. It was our way of letting the world stop. Letting whatever crap we were going through just be put on pause for a few short moments.
It never really mattered how cold it was, how much stuff we had to do, if we had plans or not. If we could tell that the other wasn't alright, the wine and cigarettes would be brought out. There were times when life would get so overwhelming that we had to take trips out to a nearby lake. These were incredibly special to me because it'd involve the sunset and the waves of the lake just crash on the dock. It was peaceful. Serene. Calm.
This is something I've found myself searching for while in Orlando. Calm. Serenity. Peace. A pause.
I've begun realizing something about myself. Something that I never really wanted to agree with and never really wanted to accept, but at the end of the day have found it to ring true. I'm an extroverted introvert.
I love to be with others, I love to be out and about in the world, and I love to spend time with those I love, but I love my alone time even more. I love adventuring solo, I love being quiet with my own thoughts (no matter how scary they are sometimes), I love breathing in the night air and taking in Florida "winter." I actually love being alone.
This moment alone on my Orlando patio makes me think of all of the other moments in life that we just can't seem to stop. Can't seem to pause. Can't seem to just breathe and take in what's happening. I am the worst at this and I'll be the first one to say so. Instead of taking a minute to adjust, to breathe, to digest what's going on around me, I've taught myself to just respond or, more honestly, not respond at all.
That's changing. And no, this isn't a "New Year, New Me" thing. This is a New Year, Better Me thing. A New Year, Calmer Me thing. A New Year, More Attentive Me thing. A New Year, More Self Care thing.
This is a 2020 Erica thing. And 2020 Erica is going to start listening to instincts again. Going to start noticing when stress is becoming too much and going to start asking for help. Going to start accepting that many things are out of my control. Going to start taking ownership of my own emotions. Overall, going to start bettering myself.
In 2020, I'm finding the calm in life. I'm finding the serene in the storm. I'm finding the peace in the conflict. In 2020, I'm pausing more, but maybe without the unhealthy habit of cigarettes.