I had an odd weekend. first of all, happy mlk day & women’s march weekend.
This weekend I encountered my shadow side and I write this all down in order to process, reflect, and hopefully let someone know that they’re not alone by sharing my jumble of thoughts and feelings.
I had a friend whom I’ve known since 2009 (freshmen year of HS baby) visit me all the way from California. We went out to dinner a few times in my town and this weekend planned to go to Boston.
We left on Saturday, later than we planned to because the Amtrak we were planning on taking had doubled in price so, we opted for the later & cheaper train. We had wanted to attend the women’s march, but when we decided to take the later train, resolved to missing it in order to save $40.
My biggest excitement for going up to Bos was
1. TATTE BAKERY seriously, land of my dreams. and
2. Going to see Miss You Like Hell, a new musical at A.R.T.
side note; I also had to return a shirt at Talbots that my gma got me for Christmas.
When we arrived, we headed straight for Tatte and saw that Talbots was along the way. I got $50 credit in store and chose a sweater to buy that was marked down off $80 to $28 and so I bought 2 and only had to spend $6 (win).
On our way to Tatte, we noticed the women’s march was still going on and we quickly joined the crowd chanting things like “this is what democracy looks like” and “the people united will never be defeated”
As the cold January air gripped my lungs, I felt my throat tighten and constrict and not just from the icy wind. For some reason, in situations like these, I find it hard to stand tall and yell with a strong and clear voice. Instead, I feel overwhelmed with emotion and feel vulnerable. It’s like I’m feeling the energy of the crowd and standing up for what we believe in is so powerful that it just makes me want to cry. It’s beautiful what humans can do. (yet, it also reminds me that I may have a blocked throat chakra and need to do something to clear it)
I also noticed myself taking videos/pictures for my Insta story – as if I wanted to “show” that I was being an activist even though I probably only marched for all of 10 minutes.
This is a layer of my shadow side that I don’t normally want to face, but I want to be open and honest with you all, the good and the bad.
I honestly feel guilty that I haven’t really done anything in the political activism scene and haven’t done much to help others who are less fortunate than me. I mean, there I was swinging my Talbot’s bag back and forth as I dreamed about what kind of pastry I’d eat at Tatte after this marching was over.
After the march ended, we ran into a crowded Starbucks to use the bathroom with crumpled up march signs stuffed behind trashcans.
We then made our way to Tatte and I enjoyed a chocolate berry tart, iced latte, and sweet potato & avocado toast.
Jose (my friend) really wanted to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum of art so we headed there next. We only had an hour to check out the musuem before closing, which was in my favor because when I go to museums I tend to blow past everything, while Jose can spend hours and hours observing the art.
I didn’t know much about her before going, but while there I learned she was a wealthy New England elite whose father died and inherited almost 2 million dollars making her one of the wealthiest women of her time.
She decided to dedicate her riches to collecting art and curated a beautiful museum full of paintings, tapestries, and furniture. They called her a patron of the arts, who wholly dedicated herself to supporting the arts whether it be theater, painting, visual arts, or music. When she died, she put in her will that nothing in the musuem should be changed or sold, she wanted it exactly the way she put it together. Her vision held steadfast.
Strolling through the museum, I kept coming back to the idea I read in Eric Maisel’s creativity coaching book about “passionately making meaning” in one’s life.
Here was a woman, who was so wealthy she didn’t even need to remarry because she had her own fortune. Her way of “making meaning” was collecting art and her catchphrase was “c’est mon plaisir” or “it’s my pleasure”.
I love this phrase because it reminds me of two things.
- That life should be about pleasure and we should be able to enjoy ourselves through art, music, paintings, etc.
- That a life full of pleasure may also mean a life full of privilege. She could dedicate herself to art because she didn’t need to work.
I have complicated feelings about the second part because it makes me question whether creativity & art is only for the privileged. Can we really only dedicate our lives to it when we’re coming from an immense place of privilege? How can creativity & art passionately make meaning when you’re worried about food/shelter?
While I got what I could from the musuem, I didn’t have a guide or anything so I didn’t know the history behind each work of art. This led me to become quite bored and I ended up sitting on a bench, scrolling on my phone while waiting for Jose to finish up.
This also left me with a feeling of guilt because here I was in this incredible sanctuary for art with so many stories to be heard if I just had the willingness to listen. Instead, I sit addicted and engrossed into my metal device in my hand.
It reminded me that stories give us meaning. While I can look at an elaborate tapestry depicting a scene of humans and nature, I can appreciate the time it took for someone to sew that and wonder how they made it, but it doesn’t truly give me meaning until I’ve heard the story behind it. The why. Without the story, it’s just a pretty impressive tapestry.
We left the museum as it began to snow. We got dinner at a cheap sushi place and spent the rest of the evening hiding from the cold, watching Broad City in our Air BnB.
The next morning, we woke up early and braved the slushy streets for more Tatte and a glance at Harvard’s campus. Our musical got cancelled due to weather and we realized there wasn’t much else we wanted to do and it was too cold to wander the streets, so we took an early train home.
Once back home in CT, we bundled up and spent the rest of the day binging You on Netflix.
Yesterday, was MLK day and I thought about how I wanted to be productive. Work on my creative projects, read books, spend time with my spirituality, work on launching my website for my new business, but instead I stayed in bed all day long watching Netflix.
Normally, I don’t watch a lot of TV. There’s actually very few tv shows that I like.
But it was cold outside and I was with my boyfriend, whom I was kind of upset with all day because I felt like we weren’t truly connecting. We weren’t in some love fest cocoon as the storm raged on outside, we were two separate beings in two separate worlds just sharing the same bed.
This caused me to be agitated and upset and I realized two things about myself.
- I can’t take a damn day off to rest. While sometimes I dream about days like this – spending all day in a cozy bed, watching netflix with my boyfriend, and eating Domino’s. Instead, actually experiencing this made me feel lazy, unproductive, and generally unhappy as if this was all I was ever going to do with my life (holy geez, Leya it’s just one day)
- I still have tendencies of escapism. I was bored so I engrossed myself in other people’s lives & drama. I didn’t want to sit there and face my own shit. I didn’t want to face the cold.
Coming back to work today, my mind was caught up with all these ideas – researching yoga teacher trainings in India, feeling like I haven’t touched my projects in years (even though it’s only been 3 days) and feeling like I’ve given up on all my hopes and dreams just because I spent all day yesterday in bed, doing pretty much nothing.
I don’t know what the solution to this is and I recognize that I am coming from a huge place of privilege even having these “problems”. Instead of feeling guilty about this, I’m figuring it out what it’s all trying to tell me.
I’m realizing that I’m always “escaping” into the future. Dreaming, planning. I’m not sitting down and facing myself.
I’m searching for external things to make me happy – things like food and going to restaurants/bakeries/etc. (honestly these things make me so happy and can’t tell if that’s good or bad)
I also always want to “feel” productive like I’m always wanting to move forward in achieving my goals. If I’m not actively taking steps further, I am consumed with guilt and feelings of unworthiness and like those feeling will last forever.
ahh, the shadow self.
All that I can do for now, is write. Share my story. Stop making excuses and acknowledge what I’m going through. Stop feeling guilty for even sharing this story because it feels so trivial, dripping with privilege.
Instead, face it. Recognize that it’s okay. Recognize that I’m not alone in these feelings. Recognize this is the shadow self at play. Love the shadow self. Know that I am not defined by how much I get done in a day or how much connection I have with my boyfriend or how many experiences I can “show off” on Instagram so other people will believe that I’m having a good time.
I want to focus internally and know that all that I need is already within me. I don’t need a teacher training in India to teach me this. I don’t need to plan for the future, because all that really matters is the now.
All that I need is within me, at any moment, as long as I am able to listen.
Also, if things like getting an iced coffee or getting boba makes me happy, THAT’S OKAY because life should be about the things that give you pleasure. while acknowleding and being grateful for the privilege you have.
more pleasure. more listening. more facing. more accepting.