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To Live or Thrive in San Francisco

Tony Bennett's heart scuplture, America's Greatest City by the Bay.

It has been some time since my last post, has it not? So much has changed in such a short amount of time, and I could not be more amazed.

I’ve began my life anew in San Francisco, CA; and it has only been a week and half or so that I have lived here. However, in that amount of time, I have learned how truly precious and unexpected life can be. I have felt more gratitude and joy than I ever could have imagined.

As many of you who have been following my blog may well know, I have struggled tremendously with finding my purpose and place in this crazy thing we call life. I can be honest when I say I am 31 years old and, more times than not, I feel like a mess. As a result, my choice to come to the city by the bay came from a strange mix of confusion, hope, necessity, and recklessness. Confusion and recklessness because I had only a vague understanding of what my life would look like when I got here; more like a rough outline. Necessity because I could feel the suffocating weight of stagnation bear down on me. I say hope because I needed to believe that there could be something better. To add to this, I had reached a place where I no longer felt at home in my own hometown. I have a saying, “I love Los Angeles, but it does not always love me.” And while it is the city of the angels, it has a way of showing its dark under belly and cutting, even the natives, to the quick.

Truthfully, I found myself doing something extremely unhealthy to my psyche; I was comparing myself to others. I was comparing my life to the lives of those I had grown up with; an inevitability when you live in the same city, with the same people you have known since your youth. You start wondering why it appears as though their lives are taking off, and you are inexplicably stuck docked at the terminal. This was me, and this thinking was taking more of a toll on me than I realized. It was the beginning of a deep, afflicting, and crippling depression in me. One that made me question my value and doubt my right to an existence on this earth. One that made me lose all hope of a brighter future, and thus crippled my ability to strive for more. In short, I was lost.

So, as you know, over a year ago I did the one thing that ever brought me joy… I began to write, again.

I began to write and keep this blog.

I began to write in my own private journal.

And it is that writing that led me down a path towards a master’s degree in fashion journalism at a reputable school in the heart of San Francisco.

And it is in San Francisco that I now reside.

However, I do not feel like I am just living here… I feel as though I am actually thriving here. To live and to thrive are two very different concepts indeed. The former is to simply go through the motions of existence, while the latter suggests blossoming within that existence. I feel as though I am finally beginning to bloom after over three decades of dormancy. In the first time in my life I feel as lucky as those I once admired and envied.

union_square_shot

To live or to thrive.

I have lived so long in struggle, with disappointment, and  tending to heartache; that now, when something good comes my way, my appreciation and gratitude is heartfelt and genuine. The Universe can be a harsh, unrelenting teacher when it attempts to instill the lessons crucial to our life’s particular journey. I often felt singled out by this seemingly cruel way of instructing, and if the heart is not fortified and the spirit not nurtured, one can easily succumb to that cruelty.

I have been witness to more than one loved one making the choice to not exist because of that cruelty; and I, myself, have stared down that path of despair and hopelessness in questioning agony, only to step away from the precipice at the final seconds. I have looked despair squarely in the eye, and was greeted with the coal-black nothingness of lifelessness.

I have stood there.

And yet now, I am standing here with so much to look forward to.

So, I implore you to believe me when I say that the thankfulness I feel is immeasurable and invaluable.

For the first time in an exceedingly long time in my short life, I have a glimmer… just a scintillating gleam of hope nestled away in my heart.

It is my desire to protect it. To cultivate it. To encourage it. To grow it.

I have began to build the life I have always dreamed of for myself in a city I never would have thought I would end up. I can envision that future in my mind’s third eye, and it is that mere vision that gives me the strength to try in this beautiful, terrifying, exhilarating metropolis.

I have a new home to explore, a mission to complete, an education to obtain, a new job to fulfill me, a loving roommate to encourage me, and a little kitchen to express my affection in through my cooking. However, more importantly, I have began to find my heart again among the rubble and ashes of dashed hopes and forgotten dreams.

So, I am grateful. Deeply, truly, eternally grateful.

And it is my hope that any one who once felt or currently feels lost will someday get to feel this overwhelming since of gratitude that I have felt everyday for the past week and a half.

My inspiration: hold on a little longer. I beg you, hold on. It is my greatest desire that you feel this feeling I feel today.

Until next time my darlings, may you always be sweetly inspired.


Featured photo: One of the many hearts of San Francisco, Tony Bennett’s heart sculpture, America’s Greatest City by the Bay, resides on the corner of Powell Street and Post Street in the infamous Union Square.

All images taken and edited by A. Reneé & co. for Darling Afflatus, 2016. Please do not use without permission.

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