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    A Sweet Farewell to Summer

    Summer is ending. How’s your heart? 

    I entered this summer wide-eyed and innocent, or as innocent as a 24 year-old can be. Second degree in hand, I was naively ready to take on the world (again). I had a guy who mattered enough to write about, friends who loved me, and work that mattered. That soon, however, came to a screeching halt (honestly, it came to a flaming “oh shit that really took a left” halt but I digress).

    So I did what I do best; I retreated. Whether that was back to men who make my stomach turn once the alcohol has worn off or to mindless parlaying every day of the week. I ran. I ran and ran until life caught up with me. It was only when I stopped fleeing my memories and took a moment to acknowledge the beauty of this summer that I remembered it’s okay to stop running.

    I, like many others I’m sure, came into this summer with goals. Written goals, mental goals, goals spoken aloud. I would find the perfect job for the fall. I’d figure it out with a guy. I’d make new friends post-graduation. I’d create a home in my current city. I, like many others, experienced some roadblocks. I got rejected from a job. I declined another job. I came no where close to figuring out my dating life (I actually discovered that my old penchant for dramatics in how I end my love affairs is alive and well). I wrestled with (and still do) the idea that I may never find “the one.” I struggled finding community. Yet, as summer winds down, I often play back the memories. And I realize, this farewell to summer is a bit sweeter than I thought.

    A farewell to summer has turned into a realization that this summer, summer ’17, may have been everything I needed. And was probably everything you needed when you take a moment to pause. The lessons were numerous and I have every bit of faith that they will guide my fall. A farewell to summer has turned into a ‘thank you’ for the lessons.

    Lesson 1: Reclaim your time.

    I personally spend a lot of time supporting others through their shitty situationships. I encourage them to let trash people go as soon as they recognize that they’re toxic. But I’ve never done that for myself. I’ve never identified the toxicity of a man and left before it damaged me. I’m always collateral damage and honestly, it makes for great storytelling. I will dead ass ride out some soul crushing situationship until I no longer recognize my own reflection. But this summer was different. As Auntie Maxine said, I reclaimed my time. I engaged with a toxic man and I got the hell out. I didn’t catch feelings that were difficult to shake and I was able to check my own self. My price has gone up and this summer I remembered to add tax and inflation. I’ve always recognized that my time is valuable but I’ve never put action behind it. That is, I’ve never cut one of these clowns off solely based on that. And this summer I did. I said “I’m cool because I’m worth more than this.” And that, that is powerful.

    Lesson 2: Don’t internalize other folks’ issues.

    It’s quite possible that I’m a masochist. Some how when things go wrong, I always manage to shoulder most of the responsibility and blame. Even when it was not truly my fault. This summer brought out that quality twice- once when the past came knocking and once when I cut someone off- and I got sick of my own shit. I got sick of apologizing when I knew damn well it wasn’t my fault. I got tired of being sympathetic towards others who created their own demise. I got tired of sacrificing my soul for the healing of others. So I stopped accepting weak ass apologies. I stopped attempting to play God. For once, I was selfish and chose myself. I’m the person who will sit in bed for hours with physical aches as I try to understand what I could have done better. But this summer, that stopped being my story. I stopped clutching my gut over the woman who eight months ago I wanted to physically attack. I stopped massaging my heart over the man who was actually nothing I want out of a lover. I stopped internalizing the bullshit of others and attempting to “be pleasant”. I put some action behind my words and honestly got some energy to stop addressing foolishness.

    Lesson 3: Trust the process.

    I got a job this summer. And not just any job. The titled, salaried, brag about job. The job that I’ve prayed for. Begged God for. I got the job after applying for 66 positions over the course of 5 months. After a rejection from my alma mater. After declining a job that I’m still shocked I had the audacity to say “no” to. After making a contingency plan in case I had to move back home. After living off my entire savings (shout out to blowing 7k in four months LOL). And I got the damn job. This summer taught me that before all else, you HAVE to trust the process. There’s so much working in the universe to get you to where you need to be and you have to have faith. As pastor says, “Faith without works is dead”, but it honestly should be “Work without faith is dead.” Many times this summer I came close to giving up. I struggled to articulate my anxiety to all but one of my closest friends. But at some point (probably when I was intoxicated at 11am in Vegas), I said “fuck it.” Now that isn’t some inspirational moment to share but all breakthroughs aren’t. I said fuck it and decided to enjoy the present. To trust that I’ve worked hard as hell and to really believe that my blessings would manifest themselves because of that. And the process came through.

    Lesson 4: Vulnerability is more than okay. 

    (While I’m still working on it) I’ve decided to keep being vulnerable. To be about what I run my mouth about. To remind myself that it’s okay to share my full, authentic self without worrying that I’m “weirding someone out.” Even when I get sick and tired of being vulnerable for people who let me down. And this goes beyond the opposite sex. It’s being vulnerable enough to show up as the woman I truly am in my day to day life. That is often easier said that done but it’s worth it. I’ve never claimed to be perfect but I am adamant about living in accordance with my authentic self. And that requires vulnerability and trust in my own self.

    This summer was odd. This summer was stressful. This summer made me see red. This summer may have resulted in some not so nice confrontations. But this summer gave me, and probably gave you, so much to reflect on. It gave these lessons. And I’m positive that fall will be the manifestation of this work.

    Photo: John Baloyi (@jay_teja on Twitter).

    Ashley Johnson
    Ashley Johnson

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