My name is Melissa. I live in New Mexico, I have for over 20 years. I am no one that special, I am a cashier at a grocery store and I work at a liquor package store as well. I thought a lot about a plan to make 2019 better, what plans can I come up with? The truth is I don’t have a clue, because no matter what plans a human being can come up with, there will always be events that surprise you and change your life in ways that will change how you see everything.
I never thought I would be a meth addict in 2012, or that I would get arrested for going on the run with my boyfriend when he escaped from jail in 2013, or that I would have two miscarriages, or that I would have three degrees and still work blue collar (something I will always be proud of, no matter what anyone says). I would never have thought I would see my sister fulfill her dreams so completely, or that this year I would deal with a roommate addicted to air duster, who is now in treatment, or that I would get a huge burn on my arm that resulted in a scar after it melted half of my tattoo. I have seen myself and those around me face heartbroken and uplifting moments, and I have spent years supporting and being supported by my community.
So since plans in my world don’t often go with the flow of life, I thought instead, here’s how you can be a light, every day no matter what.
1. Journal. The first step in helping the world is being honest with yourself and facing your own crap. As they say, you can’t help anyone else unless you can help yourself. It’s a good way to figure out what you need to change and what is worth keeping.
2. Smile more. Sometimes something as simple as a smile can make a bad day a little better, and it gives people permission to smile themselves even through bad days.
3. Listen. Being a cashier for 16 years you hear all sorts of stories from people from many walks of life. We all have them, because we are all living them. So don’t be afraid to hear someone’s story, a lot life gets passed around that way.
4. Be ready for change. Sometimes the things that we love the most are the very things we need to let go of in the quest for that better life we are searching for. Sometimes the things we think we hate the most are the very things that can save us so completely. Nothing is permanent and a good heart should be ready for change.
5. Be humble. I went from being a successful grad student with an office to living on the streets strung out. Life will humble you in ways you can’t imagine. Realize that you are amazing. Realize that in some ways you are insignificant. Don’t always believe your own bullshit. Be open to new experiences with people.
6. Forgive. And let yourself be forgiven. This life doesn’t come with instructions. We are going to stumble and we are going to mess up. So is everyone else around us. Realize that no one is perfect. Forgive others and forgive yourself.
That’s the best plan I can give people, based on my own life experiences. Because sometimes changing the world is simply being prepared for it to change, and to be ready to help. One more thing. Time will take as much as it gives, and it spares no one for any reason. Life is really beautiful in all it’s flaws and triumphs. Recognize that, and act accordingly.