Firstly, you should know that I am saving the cotton quilted throw. Whilst you stay, I offer just a single duvet.
It may be cold, and yet, it is warmed by promise. The promise that you’ll thank me. You’ll thank me when balmy nights grow hot. Again, when your happy mood grows harsh.
These are such questions I do not intend to dip in sugar.. despite how much I know you love the stuff. We’re friends. At least, we’re the type that share a lot of history. For the time being, it makes us similar. It’s what assures me I can speak in blunt tongues.
Firstly, how are you? I know, I know – it’s a tough question to answer. A response, particularly yours, is apt for changing minute-to-minute. Let me make it easier.
They say – in fact, your dad has always said – that you need just three things to respond with a positive answer. Something to love. Something to do. Something to look forward to. I encourage you not to regard the future, so much as the right now. Do you have all these three things?
2017: I have them in multiplicity. But for the sake of your question, I’ll pick just one of each. I have a boyfriend to love. I have communicating to do (my own writing, my job, etc). I have Melbourne to look forward to.
Wow – it sounds like you should jump out of bed every day. What, despite your having of these three things, stops you to jump? Start with what you have to look forward to: work your way back.
2017: I guess it seems far away. I’m not going to Melbourne tomorrow, after all. It’s the impending “soon”. And there’s so much admin to do beforehand.
If you could go tomorrow, would you?
2017: Um, probably not. There are loose ends to tie up. People whom I love and owe this time. There are also people I don’t.. but enough I do.
Right.. so you wouldn’t change time. Then why resent it? Look forward. Anticipate. Know that you’re doing the right thing by those you love, and that you’re tying those loose ends. Let that be another source of happiness: satisfaction.
Is there anything else about what you’re looking forward to that, well, stops you to look forward?
2017: I guess there’s always the risk that things could go wrong. They mightn’t go the way I plan.
Some of the best things to ever happen have and will be unplanned. You should never let risk be another reason you don’t jump in the morning – but another reason you do.
Speaking of doing, tell me about what you do. Communicating. What about it doesn’t make you jump every day?
2017: I love it. It’s what makes me feel purposeful, skilful and generous with my time. But it – my endeavour to communicate for myself, for and to others – also makes me stressed and frustrated. It takes me away from loved ones. It can mean that I never relax. Sometimes I am so exhausted from communicating on larger platforms, that I fail to do so with any proficiency on a more intimate scale.
Why does it make you feel so stressed and frustrated?
2017: Because I take on a lot at once. If I’m going to communicate and that’s going to be my thing, I want to do it well. I want to stand out. I want to be the best I can be.
Doesn’t that mean taking time, if not more, for the people close to you?
2017: Yes, I suppose it does. Who am I kidding? I know it does! That’s the very balance that stresses me!
In those moments you have been less stressed by this balance, what has been different?
2017: I’ve had less work or at least, been on top of work. I’ve had time to be social – to, even, prepare dinner (something I rarely have time for and as a result, I tend to rely on AJ). I’ve also been in a more light-hearted and calm headspace.
So that’s it then: what you do ought to keep you busy. But it also needs to be manageable. Standing out takes time – and you will. You’ll never be happy, however, if you can only do so by way of constant stress, detachment from your loved ones and from yourself. You’ll only wind up hating what you do. So let it keep you busy – but for no more time than it satisfies you to. It’s not worth it. Few things are worth losing a calm headspace over. After all, it’s within this space that you often function – and ironically, communicate – best. Only you can ensure that you stay here.
What else – apart from the stress of it – makes you unhappy about what you do?
2017: I guess, the occasional criticism.
I could tell you that this is what grows you – because it is. I could tell you that this shall be what makes you the best communicator – because it is. And yet, there is more. Criticism is what makes praise appear in colour, as opposed to in black and white. Criticism is what defines good communication. Could you be good at what you do without it?
2017: No, I guess not.
Can you become good at what you do with it? Absolutely. Savouring criticism is a large ask, but it is far lesser than ignoring it can be.
It seems fitting to reiterate my feelings on risk here. Criticism should be a reason you jump in the morning. If praise were the inevitable, why even get up?
2017: You make a fair point.
Now move onto what you love. What about this makes you stop to jump?
2017: Sometimes I just want my space.
When is this?
2017: When I’m tired, when I’m stressed, when I feel claustrophobic. When I have fucking period pains.
Suck it up.
Yes, you read right – suck it up. Each of these feelings you have just detailed are inevitable: you can’t change that you will feel them. Are you going to let the inevitable stop you from jumping for what you have to love?
2017: I want to say no, but sometimes I can’t help it. He doesn’t always know how to respond to those inevitable feelings.
And do you always know how to respond to those inevitable feelings?
So cut him some slack. Realise that you, McKenzie, are the prime – and arguably, sole – director of your own feelings. If you’re struggling to control them, it’s hardly fair to criticise someone else for struggling all the same.
2017: What about in the case he’s being irritating?
To be irritated also requires you to be irritable. Have patience. Breathe. Don’t let 90% of what you choose to express and how you choose to react be characterised by negativity. You’re only minimising your own chance for positivity.
2017: And if I can’t.. have patience?
For every time you don’t have patience, you lose the right to expect him to find it with you.
2017: But he does?
For now, yes. That shouldn’t be a reason to exploit his capability – but one to enhance yours.
..Now, riddle me one last thing: why don’t you jump when you wake in the morning?
2017: Never-mind. In 2018.. I do.
Wearing: Emma Ford Swim