When I first moved to Portland at 18, I would sit in my apartment at night, my desk looking out over the city streets below, watching the city light up as night fell and I’d just write. I’d listen as the streetcar chimed on the tracks below, as the city grew quieter, as everyone retreated home after a long day, and I’d stare out at those city lights in such awe that I got to live there. I found so much inspiration in the city and I’d just write about everything I felt. I was falling in love those early months in my city, I was finding my independence and above all, I was finding my voice. Those early years in Portland are still some of the most touching memories of my life and I often reminisce about how free I felt then, how perfectly in step with my path ahead I was. Looking back now, I wish I could feel a little bit of that freedom, that fierceness that I had at 18. The world is harder now, life is draining and exhausting, and the responsibilities that come with adulthood feel often like they drain a little bit out of me every day, so that as we get older, it feels like it’s all too much, like we’re just dredging through our days.
I often joke with my mom on my morning calls with her while driving to work, that every day I’m just sitting in my car on the road to the school I teach at, drinking my coffee… same thing, every day. And while we joke about it, I’m realizing lately that the routine, the packed schedules, the non-stop meetings, and the monotony of daily life are doing more harm than good for me. I’ve been struggling lately. Struggling with my mental health, struggling with the path I’m on, struggling with a loss of the fierceness that I once had, the loss of that wild, open, free heart that I had at 18.
In all honesty, this has been a hard year emotionally and what I’m learning is that I have to find a way back to that fierce and free heart that I had all those years ago. I’ve let myself get bogged down by disappointment, by sadness, by fear. I’ve lost the part of me that I loved the most, the girl that sat at that window in her city and felt so free, that watched the city light up and smiled, knowing that nothing could stop her from what she wanted. I miss the girl that counted on herself, that loved freely and lived with a wild and open heart.
I need to get back to her, but I don’t know exactly how. I know that she’s there, buried deep under the long work hours and the adult responsibilities. I know she’s there when I see the city lights shine at night or when I sip a coffee slowly at my desk. I know she’s there when I travel, when I feel the energy of a new place or when I reach a milestone at work, when some things do seem to fall in to place for just a small moment. I know she’s there when I sit down to write, when I look around at the best parts of my life and know how hard I’ve worked for them.
I think we all lose some part of ourselves at points in our lives and the real test is finding our way back to who we really are at our core. For me, I need to find what brings out that fierceness, that drive, that wild and open heart that I once had. I don’t want a life that I look back and wish I had done differently, I don’t want a life that I felt like passed me by as I drove to work and just drank coffee day after day. I don’t want a life that I don’t feel like myself, where my disappointments and my sadness overtake everything else. I’m just not sure how to get back there, back to that feeling of freedom, that feeling like anything is possible. It’s a journey and it won’t happen overnight, but I hope that with each night that falls, as the city lights shine bright and the streetcar sings its song on the tracks, that I feel a little bit more like that girl that once believed so openly in the future, that I feel a little more hopeful and a little more free.