I wake up because I’m a light sleeper and my dog clickity clacks on the hardwood. I’m convinced I could feed her while still sleeping, because I’m pretty sure I have. Sometimes on weekends, I’ll feed her, let her out, give her a treat, and go back to bed.
But that’s where habit stops.
I’ve tried morning running, morning yoga, morning, lunch-break, and evening devotionals. I’ve tried getting into a daily cleaning routine based on a weekly schedule, making and freezing all my meals for the week on Sunday, creating extensive Excel spreadsheets of the people I want to keep in touch with and how best to reach them. I’ve tried going to the 61C cafe near my house every Thursday after work to get a jump on homework for the weekend. I’ve tried going to the Starbuck’s near campus every Tuesday before my internship to catch up on homework for the week.
None of these attempted habits have stuck.
I’ve tried setting phone reminders, writing things on my hand, pinning up motivational quotes that have been “handwritten” in white ink over sepia-toned pictures of the Scottish highlands. I’ve set little Google goals for myself throughout the day, and I’ve even tied little strings around my fingers. Although I had to use pipe cleaners or hair ties, because I haven’t mastered the art of tying knots with only one hand.
So I can’t say it’s just the habits I’m trying to get into; I’ve obviously tried all of the cool ones out there available to millennials on a budget. But I also can’t say that I just need to find my foolproof method of remembering; see again the cool ones, millennials, and budgets.
I’m trying really hard not to feel inferior to all my friends and family who are successfully training for marathons, teaching themselves a language, honing their artistic craft. While they’re all out there making commitments to bettering themselves or whatever, I’m over here constantly forgetting things, like that I decided to be a vegetarian. Up until last Friday’s impromptu kosher hot dogs with my supervisor, I was doing pretty well on that one, at least.
I often try to pretend that my awful memory is what’s to blame. I’ve definitely walked out the door without shoes on before, tried to board the bus without my bus pass, and accidentally gone without countless breakfasts. Those things should probably be habits by now, but I neglect them about as often as those other commitments I try to make.
As I sit here, trying to write this blog post (a monthly habit I’ve miraculously managed to maintain over the past two years), I keep flicking over to Facebook, or picking up my phone and scrolling through Instagram, or watching my husband play video games. Is it because Facebook, Instagram, and Heroes of the Storm are more interesting to me than this blog post? Is it because those other things speak more deeply to my soul or sing the song of my people or breathe life into the dead parts of me? Unlikely.
We talk a bit on this blog about intentionally living and what that means in this modern age and what it means for us as newly minted “adults.” As I look around at the wreckage of all of my failed habits—my dead succulents, my messy bedroom, my running shoes, unworn in over a week—I think I’m finally learning what everyone has been telling me for twenty-six years. There isn’t some silver-bullet cure, some as-seen-on-TV solution that’s going to come into my accident-prone, easily distracted brain and take away the challenges of the life I want to live. Living is just hard work. Living well is just harder. Living the way you mean to—that’s nearly impossible, for a lot of reasons. But hard work is no less important because of its inherent challenge. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go feed my dog and work hard on what comes next.
Mary Margaret is a 2013 English, history, and secondary education grad who went rogue and became a Social Worker in Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare system. Specifically, she works as a caseworker in the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network finding families for children and educating the masses about foster care, adoption, and permanency planning. She made it over the grad-school hurdle with gold stars and warm fuzzies and is on to the next big adventure: the unknown of adulthood. Her major writing dream right now is to finish her science fiction novel that explores the concurrent futures of child welfare and artificial intelligence.