In with the January Music

It’s the time of year when I listen to Tegan and Sara. Do you have music you listen to at certain times of year? And I’m not talking about Christmas music. Or Halloween music – is that a thing?

Certain months require specific soundtracks. Elliott Smith = October. My Brightest Diamond = November. Blonde Redhead = April. 

One of my favorite Tegan and Sara songs is, “Are You Ten Years Ago?” Not only do I love the frenetic vibe of the song, but I’m asking myself that question lately. “Seriously Jenna, are you 31 right now?” 

Elements of life feel like déjà vu: recently out of a significant relationship, living independently with freedom to find my footing and spend my time selfishly. Even people from ten years ago are reemerging. Familiar restless energy courses through me, begging to know where we’re headed next.

Maybe we’re all on a ten-year loop of repeating patterns, hobbies and fears? I have nearly two decades of journals stacked in my closet, and pulled one from ten years ago to discover whether there’s evidence to support my theory. 

Side note: People have opinions about reading old journals. (some people burn them…what?!) I see them as helpful reminders. I can see objectively where my reactions were dramatic or when my approaches were incongruous with my desires. When I see this previous version of me, I appreciate all my improvements and upgrades. It’s like when you fire up your old iPhone and it feels weird in your hand…it’s still recognizable, but the version you have now feels more comfortable and has cooler apps.

Here are a few questions for you:

  • What qualities did you love about yourself and/or life ten years ago?
  • What are some ways of being/thinking you’re happy to be rid of? Are you really rid of them?
  • What were your biggest desires at that time? Are you living them today? Is that good or bad?
  • In what area are you most proud of your growth? 
  • If you ran into your ten-years-ago self today, what advice would you give?

As I skimmed my journal, I admired the younger me who spent leisurely weekends in bed with Netflix and coffee, or went for meandering walks and had impromptu solo brunch dates. These days, I put pressure on myself to maximize every weekend hour with productivity, socializing and projects. By the time Sunday comes, I already can’t wait for the following weekend. Ten-years-ago Jenna is inspiring me to follow where the weekend takes me instead of clinging to a list of “shoulds.”

I also noticed while my restless energy still swirls like a hurricane, it’s redirected. Ten years ago, I felt the need to prove or impress. I felt late to the adulthood party and pressured myself to race down the prescribed path you believe you’re supposed to follow.

Today, my restless energy is more about personal fulfillment. Spending my days doing what I love and experiencing the big and little moments of life. Time and confidence have helped shed the feeling of external pressure. Maybe another decade will help me soften my internal pressure?

I thought about advice I’d give my younger self, but as I kept reading, a new theory arose: Each of us already knows deep down exactly what we need. 

Example…here is a pep talk I gave to myself in January 2011:

“I need to just stop trying to control things and thinking they need to fit into some perfect little timeline. I need to just relax, have fun, not get too thinky and just be me.”

I suspect no matter our age, we already have all the answers to our questions. We simply need to give ourselves the time, courage and confidence to listen to ourselves and believe it.

Also, I’m taking suggestions for February music.

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