Have you ever played the “If I believed in past lives, I would be _____________” game? I think I might have just invented it on the way to my favorite coffee shop, but still, the game feels like a riot, and I was only playing it by myself, so I imagine it would be even better with actual people playing alongside you.
You could be anyone, really. Cleopatra. A fox (because who does not want to be a fox these days?). Shirley Temple. A tree in the Hunger Games. (Y’all are thinking: why wouldn’t you want to be Katniss? And you know a lot of us are all blah, blah I’m not good enough to be Katniss so let’s quit the drama and settle on being a lame tree instead. Maybe I’ll convince you to be Katniss by the end of this post.)
Basically, if I believed in past lives, I’d be one of those cool, kind-of pudgy and balding men who run the screen-printing companies.
My name would probably be Lou. And I’d make some pretty ballin’ T-shirts. I’d be friends with Diddy and Weezy and probably be dating Ellie Goulding because everyone would want my swag. I’d smoke cigars because that feels kind of random but awesome for Lou to do. And then I’d screenprint a T-shirt and save it for my life as Hannah, the blogger.
The T-shirt would read, “AIN’T NO WORD VOM BLOGGER.”
If I owned that T-shirt, I’d never take it off. EVER. Honestly, for the longest time, I sincerely detested word vom bloggers. You know the ones. The ones who spill their guts and heart and soul and inappropriateness all over the floor, and it kind of just looks like a mangled mess that no one is going to clean up. I used to say to myself that’s what a diary is for. I’ve never been interested in letting y’all wade your ankles in the puddles of my own struggles.
But today, I am word vomming like a B-O-S-S. I have nothing else to give you. No poetry. No pretty morals. Just honesty.
Not in the way where I am unsure about life. Not in the way where I wonder how to get out bed. Just in the fact that it feels like I’m juggling seventy-two things. And you don’t want to admit to anyone that you are afraid of any one of those things dropping and shattering across the floor. Just in the fact that the to-do list never gets shorter and you wake up thinking, “Man, I really want to be a better human being than this.”
I want to remember people’s birthdays better. I want to be the one who has the time to send my friends letters in the mail. I want to remember to eat breakfast. I want to get a better workout in. I want to stop. beating. myself. up. so. hard. for. stupid. stuff.
You’ve been there, babycakes. Let’s not act like you could not possibly be standing in these same sorts of feelings right now.
If I’ve learned anything in the last twenty-five years, it’s that we sometimes live nine lives within one day.
We’re crazy like that. We wake up optimistic. By 10:00 a.m., we’re exhausted. At 1:00 p.m., we feel illegitimate. It steepens at 2:00 p.m. when we convince ourselves that no one has ever loved us. By 4:00, we’re positive again. By 6:00, we want to hack off all the progress we’ve made in life and just start over. Sentence of the day: Humans be cray. It’s a marvel that we manage to get up every morning and get out of yoga pants. If you didn’t make it that far today, I still love you something fierce.
So here’s a few things you might need to know today, because they are words I most definitely need to digest myself.
1. You’re human.
That’s it. You’re human. You’re not superhuman. You’re not subhuman. You’re just plain human. You make mistakes. You don’t scale walls. You hurt people without ever intending to. You get your heart ripped out of your chest. Some days the only language you can endure is tears, and you’re like, “I’M SO FLUENTTT IN TEARSSSS. WHATTT ISSSS WRONNGGG WITHHH MEEE???” Shh…Shh…It’s ok. It’s ok.
2. SURPRISE! There is only one of you.
Sky-high to-do lists seem really practical until we need to execute them. You won’t get it all done today. Maybe you will, but you’ll already be making another list in your head. Count your fingers…there should be ten. Count your toes…ten again. Your eyes? Two of them.
There is one single person inside you, not eighteen or twenty-seven. Stop acting like you can manage the load of forty-seven humans.
@hannahbrencher (Click to Tweet!)
If you can’t swallow that fully, go back to point #1.
3. Take a break.
Sometimes. It doesn’t mean you stop going to work or you abandon all your daily tasks, but sometimes we just need an hour or two. Sometimes we just need a good book. Sometimes we need a Skype call with a best friend.
If your mind feels cluttered, take a break from social media. You’d be surprised to see what happens when you delete the apps for a little bit and just sit with your own thoughts instead of the 140-characters of the world’s population. Clarity comes, babycakes. Clarity comes.
4. Get yo’ self a stealthy pet name.
Some of you are thinking: When did she get all “babycakes” on us?
Well, people who know me or anyone who gets an email from me will know this truth: I only refer to people in terms of endearment. The second I know you, the second we first communicate, I basically forget your name and pick one of the following pet names for you: 1) Love 2) Darling 3) Babycakes 4) Babygirl 5) Lovely 6) Girl 7) Doll.
I’m not trying to be overly lovey-dovey with people, but names are a really powerful thing. We call ourselves all sorts of ugly things. We are fat. We are stupid. We are lazy. We are pathetic.
Baby, baby, get yourself an amazing little pet name. I hauled through six lectures and seven flights in a little over seventy-two hours this weekend, but the whole time I kept saying, “We got this. Babygirl, we got this.” And it got me through. Being kind to myself, being loving to myself, got me through.
5. Ban Adele.
Not forever. But in fragile times when you feel low and down and insecure, Adele doesn’t help anyone. She makes us want to gouge our eyes out with pencils because WE. FEEL. SO. MUCH.
Use Adele as a springboard if you need to, or just go sit in a Starbucks, and when all the sad music rolls in, just give yourself permission to cry. Big tears. Little tears. Sloppy tears. Ugly cry all over that coffee shop and hold your hands up and surrender and admit that you are far from put together. Let the baristas carry you out screaming and crying and slurring your words to Adele. Get someone to video the whole thing so that you can become a really super awesome viral sensation. And don’t forget about the person who gave you the sweet idea when you go on Ellen.
6. You. Are. Freaking. Katniss.
You are freaking Katniss. I don’t care what people tell you. I don’t care what you tell yourself every single day. A lot of the stuff we tell ourselves is just stupid little lies.
You are capable. You are strong.
You are not the tree in the Hunger Games; you are Katniss.
You’re an absolute genius at something. You have gifts all hidden in your limbs. You are not the sum of your doubts or your insecurities or the thought that you won’t get anywhere in this lifetime. You are going somewhere. You are, you are, you are. You are brave. You got swag. You got potential. You are a BOSS. Write that on your desk, doodle it in your notebooks, get it tatted on your head if it drives the point home: You. Are. A. Boss. This world ain’t got nothing on you, darling.
Hannah Brencher is a writer, speaker, and creator pinning her passion to projects that bring the human touch back into the digital age. After spending a year writing and mailing over 400 love letters to strangers across the world, Hannah launched The World Needs More Love Letters in August 2011—a global organization fueled by volunteer “letter writers,” now in fifty states and forty-seven countries. She’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Oprah, Glamour, the White House Blog, and is currently a global finalist for the TED2013 Global Talent Search (watch the TED Talk). You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
*Image courtesy of Kamila Gornia.January 16, 2014