cue rent

Aka Idina Menzel belting Seasons of Love  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In daylights,  in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee– in inches, in miles, In laughter, in strife– in five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes– how do you measure a year in the life?

Long time no blog and all that jazz because to be honest, I’ve been really busy LIVING. But I also love blogging (thank you to people who read my jumble of thoughts I publish that honestly pop into my head at 4am ily) and I’ve been thinking so much about this specific topic.

In the past, when I was struggling with an eating disorder, I measured everything in quantifiable ways. Calories, weight, steps, BMI- I was beyond wrapped up in numbers. I needed proof of my “progress” in what I thought initially was a way to better myself. Looking back, I clung to these numbers because I needed quantifiable proof of my worth as a human. Being a friend, a daughter, a student, an artist- none of this mattered because I couldn’t measure it on a scale and compare my progress numerically.

And then I went to treatment and I got better (okay not as simple as that but that is a whole other story). I came back to school for my sophomore year, and I kicked ass re: my grades. But that’s kinda it. I focused so much on my grades as means for proving my worth that I neglected friends, self care, the whole nine yards. And even though I swore I was better- and I was doing better with food and exercise and feelings- I was still using those dumb numbers to prove my worth. I could get a B, but that directly influenced (okay, influences still) how I feel about myself. This is a call-out post for myself, and for anyone else who struggles with this– you can be both a work in progress AND a masterpiece. Work to improve yourself AND still be proud of who you are. I care about my grades a little too much, AND I’m proud of how I’ve changed my life to reflect more of what I value.

This summer, I’ve been interning at a refugee resettlement agency. I have a million and six things to say about this in another post, but it’s the most fulfilling and meaningful experience I’ve ever had- and not necessarily because I feel like I’m a good person for what I do. I do feel good because of that, but the real prize comes in building and keeping relationships- something I didn’t even know I valued when I was sick. I love being able to help others, and I feel like I’m my best self when I spend time at my internship. Between conversations about common experiences or realizing that a client and I both study public health, teaching four and five year old refugees what the word for dog is in English, blowing bubbles in the office even though I’m probably not supposed to because it makes a ten year old refugee laugh, I’ve never felt so whole. The work I’m doing aligns with my values, it helps others, and it does the very thing I never knew I needed in creating a whole lot of love.  I haven’t had grades or test scores or assignments to tell me if I’m doing a good job or not. And that has been the best possible thing. For the girl who’s obsessed with grades, not getting them has been a breath of fresh air, because it forced me to learn to how to go without the quantifiable measures of success.

I saw Idina in concert a few weeks ago, and I can’t stop listening to Rent- or thinking about how I measure my years. I used to only measure my worth and effort in calories and weight and then grades and slowly, in relationships and time and things that can’t be quantified.  I’m trying to think of how I measure the best summer I’ve ever had, a summer that has been more incredible than I ever thought possible. I expected a lot out of working with the U.S. refugee population, but I didn’t anticipate how they’d change me, and my perspective on life.

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