Forced Humility

I think these super weird times have kinda leveled us in many ways. None of us can pretend like we have it together anymore, like we do cool things constantly, or like we are living very cool lives because if you are doing any of those things you look stupid and need to stop doing that. Right now, it is important for us to be *significantly* less cool.

My mom told me I needed to write because people needed to be reminded of what I was thinking. When she told me this I said no. Told myself I wasn’t gonna write because how much of what I think really matters, and if I write things down that means I’m having to actively think about them, and sometimes my brain reaches capacity for the things it wants to be thinking about. But then I got over myself and realized that I needed to write because we are in a global pandemic and. What else am I gonna do with my thoughts? Which, is humbling. Forced humility.

These past few weeks have been a constant cycle of utmost optimism and then existential dread. Which I guess tells me two things: that I’m dramatic and that I shouldn’t have this much time to myself. 

So I wrote myself a realistic list of the things I will be doing in self-isolation.

  • Reading books. No for real. If you are looking for a place to start read A Little Life
  • Writing down memories tied to certain songs because when else am I going to have the time to do something like make memories tangible
  • Sitting in the sun at 1 pm each day it isn’t cloudy
  • Sleeping in late. As late as I want without feeling bad about it because feeling bad about it is pointless. I will sleep when I want to 
  • Making cookies for the people that deserve cookies
  • Writing letters to people because we have stamps
  • Having honest conversations with myself about things I have been consciously pushing to the back of my head for the past few months. Ouch
  • Eating more peanut butter
  • Listening to Madison Cunningham’s cover of “The Age of Worry” like 3 times per day

Forced authenticity. Did anyone notice how much the things that we subscribe to don’t actually have to have our attention all the time? I used to feel like people/things were always fighting over me, constantly wanting more from me. And I thought they kept fighting and fighting and fighting, so I started to call them obligations to deal with the fact. But then the month of March happened and now I realize that I was actually just avoiding having to become friends with myself. Really, in all honesty, my only obligation is to be someone who acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly. Everything else is supposed to be a reflection of that and a way for me to make sure that obligation is sustained. Just something I’ve been thinking about.

Self-isolation is hard. I spend too many hours overthinking, I miss my brother, I miss my friends, and I’m stuck in this weird place where I am slowly losing sanity while also understanding that there’s only so much I can complain about quarantine before the complaining becomes unjustified. But I miss walking to second period. I miss being surprised by how much cream the Dunkin Donuts employee puts in my coffee. I miss going to gas stations and playing paranoia with my friends on Wednesday nights. I miss complaining about Calculus quizzes and I miss when my hands weren’t dry. I miss buying overpriced salads at Panera and doing homework with friends while eating said overpriced salads. I miss when I would drive home from work and I’d open the sunroof and treat the drive like a karaoke night. I miss taking exit 28B to drive down George Bush HW, that one highway where the speed limit truly is a suggestion. I miss making decisions I shouldn’t have been making and then laughing about it the next day cause stupidity is fun. And I miss wearing my black jeans all the time. 

One more thing. At the beginning of the year, one of my teachers gave me a copy of William Faulkner’s speech at the Nobel Banquet and told me to read it. And I did. Every now and then I read it again, because I hope to never forget what he says. All of this week, my head kept coming back to this speech, so I will share a small part that I think is very important. Especially now. 

“I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.” 

Maybe we shouldn’t forget that? We will prevail. It will be okay. We will stay home and spend too much time with ourselves. But. We will endure and become better people even more capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. 

Love, Valerie

One thought on “Forced Humility

  1. Shut the front door!

    I love that speech and was JUST thinking about it!

    And also, I’m jealous you’re learning all this now as opposed to when you’re 34 and have already lived so much life without knowing it.

    I adore you. Thanks for writing. Please continue.

    On Wed, Apr 8, 2020 at 8:51 PM beauty of the mess wrote:

    > beautyofthemess posted: “I think these super weird times have kinda > leveled us in many ways. None of us can pretend like we have it together > anymore, like we do cool things constantly, or like we are living very cool > lives because if you are doing any of those things you look stu” >


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