So Long Sweet Summer

Just kidding. More like "Wake Me Up When September Ends," if we're talking in song titles. Which, let's be honest, when aren't we?

I won't pretend I'm sad to be posting my last "What's New With You" of the summer. As I opined recently, summer is just...not my favorite. At least, not anymore. Sure, there are parts of summer I enjoy—which are really just humanity's best attempts at making it bearable: the beach, ice cream dates, long days with plenty of time for adventures. But as far as the rank of seasons, it has slipped from the top spot it held in my youth and is neck and neck with winter now for dead last.

Still, I can't help but notice the passage of the seasons and assign symbolism to the unofficial end of summer that comes with Labor Day Weekend, which we're about to celebrate and which once felt like it would never arrive. I loved the post format Lauren used a few weeks ago, and am shamelessly borrowing it for my own catch-up, look back, review, and bid of good riddance to summer '16.

It was the summer of...

new romance
I realize I never blogged about David until we were basically together (and I fully acknowledge that that happened REALLY fast), because I didn't want to be all annoying and blogging about some guy who may or may not be in my life in a week. But four months later, in my life he is. We consider our relationship's official start date May 5th, and it's crazy to think we've just about wrapped up a whole season together. Not because four months is any real significant amount of time, but because a) I haven't actually called someone my boyfriend—or been called somebody's girlfriend—since I was 18 (Eighteen! Girls, don't be flattered when boys want to "just keep it casual" because "you're cool, you get it."); and b) it oddly feels like it's been forever and just a week at the same damn time.

Falling into a relationship with David has been electrifying, exciting, frightening, earth-shaking, and, in certain ways, life-changing. He's truly unlike anyone I've ever met, wholly different from anyone I've ever dated, and in most times that's a positive. We approach things differently, which often means balance in conflict-resolution and worldview that I'm not accustomed to and that I'm benefitting from. On the flip side, we're both pretty independent people who have spent years learning ourselves as we were and creating structures for our lives that revolved around that independence. Seeing our lives converge and, in other spaces, not converge at all, has been interesting and sometimes challenging but also rewarding.

searching for balance
There's a lot of talk about work/life balance (which I am also devoted to finding within my life), but I think there's something to be said for effort/results balance too. When you're putting in 100% of yourself, and then some, and not getting back what you need to sustain your life in some way or another, burnout is inevitable and self-destruction is certain. It was this knowledge, that I was maxing myself out and still struggling financially and stalling my career, thatwas a hugely emotional burden on me all summer.

This summer was the hardest period in my year of freelancing. I had to terminate the contract that gave me the confidence to go freelance at all, simply because they stopped holding up their end and I wasn't working. But I was teaching 5 regular classes per week plus subbing at every opportunity, sometimes up to 10 classes in the heat every week. I was writing for Time Out New York, Hello Innovation, and HeartGlobe (3 articles per week on that one, at times even more); working a few handfuls of hours per week for Bad Yogi; editing for Feather; and a few miscellaneous things here and there. I was applying for jobs every single day—sometimes just two or three, sometimes up to 10. And nothing was returning what I needed to support myself and keep myself afloat.

Among all that, in my personal life I was trying to be a good daughter, friend, and girlfriend and get in some running, knowing it DOES keep me happy and stable, and that I am looking forward to a race in the fall, and that giving up the things that make me my happiest me (including running and yoga) wasn't going to help anything. So... what balance? I tried to create it wherever I could, usually on the weekends with the help of David and friends, but in all, I felt mentally maxed out most of the time.

few books and many shows
Summer is usually when I get a lot of reading done, but this year I spent more mental energy on podcasts, articles and short reads, and, honestly, mind-numbing TV when my brain needed a break. I burned through all of Happy Endings, Seinfeld, Teen Mom OG and The Mindy Project this summer. Remember, I work from home and keep these things on as background noise!

small adventures
Dave Matthews Weekend in June, the Museum of Natural History, D.C., the Jersey Shore for 4th of July weekend, a beach blate in LBI, a wine festival, and traipsing about New York and New Jersey for food, friend meet-ups, and folly. No big summer travels, but so many fun days and weekends.

food, food, food
Dating someone in Hell’s Kitchen has one important perk: food. (It helps when that person has a taste for foreign cuisine himself.) This summer has been full of my stand-by favorites (Mexican and sushi) plus my first experiences with Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, falafel, and tapas. We’re not going to talk about how grateful I am that my daily attire includes nothing more waist-restricting than yoga pants.

patience and learning to trust
Despite all the good, summer 2016 was also really, really hard on me. (See above.) I had to blindly trust that eventually things in my work life would work out—because if I thought for too long about the reality, which was that I had no reason to believe things WOULD work out, I would spiral into fear-induced depression. I was filled with doubt, close calls, and unending efforts that never felt like they would yield results. I was cranky and scared more than I’d like to admit, defeated and desperate more than I’ll want to remember.

clearing space for the next chapter
But in the end, my faith was bigger than my fear. And then the last page of that chapter turned: I’m starting a new job next week, and I am breathing easier than I have in months. I’ll be working full-time in a remote contract position with a major software company on their educational programming branch’s web communications and content. The months—well, really, year-long search has finally landed me a position I can sink my teeth into and feel some security in, however temporarily (as is the case in contract positions).

So to prepare for this next chapter, I’m finally able to release myself from some of the contracts and classes I’ve signed on for over the last few desolate months, in order to make sure my mental energy and brain space (and actual calendar) are filled ONLY with things that serve my soul or my goals. I’m able to rid myself of a few “soul vampires” and I am already feeling lighter, happier, more myself.

You guys have listened to me wax fearful and borderline tragic over my employment status over the last months and I’m so thankful for all the words of support and encouragement you’ve extended to me. Thanks for cheering me on and always staying in my corner.


In the immortal words of Ms. Judy Blume,
"You can live a lifetime in a summer, especially when you're young."

What's New With You
Linking up with Kristen & Gretch for What's New With You. What's new with you?


Comments

  1. I love your first sentence, because really so long way too hot summer ;) So much goodness in this post (aka your summer)! I love hearing a little bit about your relationship, and am so excited for you as you go into a new season together :) and YAY for finding a job that will give you the security you've been looking for. I hope it will help in your search for balance / not feeling burnt out because I can't imagine doing so many freelancing projects, teaching, and job searching. You encourage me so much!

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  2. by far, Alyssa, this is my fav update blogger post I've read in a while. Your words - raw and honest - clearly and perfectly describes your life/where you are as if we were right there with you. hmm...that sounds weird but it's not LOL.

    i'm so happy your relationship is going so well! it's amazing when things happen that fast - it's like a rollercoaster ride; you never know what's going to happen next and that's part of the thrill. go with it, enjoy it, love it; it's what makes your bond with him stronger.

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  3. I absolutely love this post!! Congratulations on the new job - I hope it pans out to something more long term if you like it (or leads to something else even better!) So happy for you in your new relationship too...I love hearing about all of that new relationship energy and figuring out how to converge lives a bit. So sweet!! You sound absolutely happy and content (understandably!) Also, kind of jealous of all the time you get to spend in Hell's Kitchen! Yum!! :)

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  4. Yayyy!!! Congratulations on the new job! I am so excited for you. When I started dating Ryan, he lived in Arlington and I was in DE, so I had a similar experience with learning all about new foods. It's funny looking back at how sophisticated I thought he was just because he lived in the DC area and knew a few different cuisines I didn't. :P

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  5. I just love Wake Me Up When September Ends. Hopefully the end of September will be a cooler one, am I right?!?! Congrats on the new job!!!!!!!!!! That is so exciting!! I knew that something great would come around for you. You are just too awesome! Your update posts has made me so happy reading about new romance, faith, and just enjoying life :) Best wishes with the new job!

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  6. yayyyy for David! i'm so happy for you!
    i think efforts/balance is a fabulous way to think about life and way more important than work/life. okay not more important but definitely up there. i really hope you find all the balances soon, and the universe starts giving you back what you've put in.
    AND THEN I READ THE NEXT PARAGRAPH!! NEW JOB!!!!! ALYSSA!!! CONGRATS!!!!!!!
    i'm so happy for you :) i hope it is amazing.

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  7. I'm so happy to hear things are going well with David! This has been such a big summer for you. Let's hope the good times keep going :) Thanks for linking up with us and good luck with the new job!

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  8. Really interesting to hear your thoughts on effort/results balance. Balance is always a struggle but I like this way of looking at it. It's more measurable, more quantifiable to me.
    NEW JOB!!! Ahh so happy to read this! I hope it's exactly what you need and even if it's not, at least it's giving you some breathing room and some time to let go of some things. Seriously just so, so, so excited and happy for you!

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  9. I just really love how introspective you are. I'm sorry summer had its hard moments, but how exciting that you met an awesome guy! (where did you guys meet? or do you prefer to keep that private?) Congrats on the new job as well!

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