Two weekends ago, I rode on an Amtrak train and remained entertained in my window seat.
Highlight #1: I created a new Spotify playlist that I called “easy listening”. Still under construction, it is already an audible museum, 90% of which honors British soul singers.
Highlight #2: I began reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the first piece of fiction I’ve loved in over a year.
Highlight #3: I briefly revisited a favorite hobby from childhood: watching Michael Jackson’s cinematic masterpieces (“music videos” to some).
Highlight #4: On the way home, I didn’t travel alone. I returned with my two college best friends. They visited Detroit, a place that I shouted out so much while at Stanford. My life, aside from college, gained texture for them. They saw a bit of my city, my old neighborhood, and some seeds, good and worse, that are currently sprouting. I’m grateful for this memory.
Two weeks since then, I’ve eased back into routines, walked into some triumphs, and am persevering through challenges. I am drinking more water. I am getting far less sleep. I am spending less time on Instagram but too much time on Facebook. I am memorizing Bible passages that encourage me, but I am not praying as much as I’d like. I consistently attend therapy, and I am gradually learning to manage my anxiety. I am even learning how to take better care of my hair thanks to fellow natural haired Facebook friends. Some things are going well while others are not. It’s life.
In the midst of it all, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much time I dedicate to Listening. While with friends and most of my family, I ask most of the questions. I love to learn about people’s lives, interests, and hypothetical approaches to situations (prompted by reflective questions like, “What would you do if fear wasn’t an obstacle?”). I inquire about random information and key events that friends share with me. I am not nearly as skilled in discussing myself, a habit of my own doing. I am so accustomed to primarily having a listening role in conversations. Perhaps, it’s a vulnerability challenge.
I listen to voices, often negative, in my head, too. “You’re not good enough”, “You’re not likeable”, and “What if you fail?” are terrible songs, but I know the lyrics and haven’t yet stopped playing them. It’s a bumpy journey of trying to hear what’s really true and tune out the rest.
I will likely always be a listener, but balance is essential. I also need to express myself, and writing helps me along that process.
I haven’t written genuinely in so long, it seems. Writing lets me share – whether privately in a journal or publicly on a blog post. It helps me realize my strengths, confront my weaknesses, and combat them by naming them first. With all of its benefits, I have neglected writing so many times.
I am reminding myself to tap into this form of my voice and honor its power.
What meaningful practice are you missing in your life? It is always okay to recommit (over and over again) to doing what replenishes you.