Funny how strangers can tell you exactly what you need to hear.
Funny how a single word can light a spark in your heart until your whole soul is on fire.
(I’m trying very hard not to edit this as I write, by the way. It’s not easy, because usually everything I write has to be JUST PERFECT–whatever that means–and sometimes honesty hurts a little).
Lately, my life has been a bit of a whirlwind.
Months ago, I fell in love with someone; then, I moved so I could be with that someone, instead of depending on technology and weekend visits. I have been working two part-time jobs and struggling to figure out what to even do with my life. And in between, I have dealt with sudden loss and felt incredible joy and experienced the wonder that is life on earth. I have been trying to trust God with my life, and I have been learning how to let go.
(This is the part when my inner editor goes crazy, because I use too much repetition in an attempt to sound poetic and all I seem to write about is what most of you already know.)
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again, because it’s as true now as it was then: I am not good at letting go. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. My poor mother has tried very hard to remedy this. Like many suburban families, we would hold garage sales to get rid of things we no longer used or needed. If we hadn’t used it for a few months, we would sell it.
Unfortunately, this rule also applied to toys. Before those dreaded garage sales, I would cling to stuffed animals that I hadn’t played with for YEARS, insisting that I still loved them.
“MOOOOOOOM. IT WAS A GIFT FROM THE GIRL SCOUT WHITE ELEPHANT EXCHANGE THREE YEARS AGO.”
“You can’t keep everything that’s a gift.”
“But throwing it away is mean!”
“When was the last time you played with it?”
“I don’t know, but I still DO.”
And on and on it went.
In my adult life, (I’m an adult?! What?!?!), this attitude has manifested itself in a multitude of ways. For instance: I tend I overcommit, even when I am miserable and exhausted. Because GOSHDARNIT I MADE A COMMITMENT AND I CAN’T QUIT DOING THIS.
If I am not overcommitting to jobs/appointments/whatever, I am overcommitting myself to dreams or ideas that I had when I was a teenager. For a very long time, I wanted to live in New York City. I’m sure I’d still love to, but dreams change, and I would rather live in a city with people I love than in a city with an empty apartment.
Admitting that to myself was difficult. Stupidly difficult. I told Drew that I felt like I was letting my old self down. He asked me if I wanted to be the same person I was when I was sixteen.
Here’s the thing: 99% of the time, you should not want to be the person you were at sixteen. You should want to grow and learn and become a better person. I know this. I would tell any of my friends the same thing.
I said, “I don’t know. In some ways, yes.”
While that last part is true–I always want to be hopeful and passionate and excited about everything–the more honest answer is no. No, I don’t want to be sixteen forever. Because a) that’s dumb, and b) I know way more now than I did when I was in high school.
That was so hard for me to say. And I don’t know why.
I want to cling to what I know, but most of the time, it’s not even that familiar. It’s just there, taking up space in my closet or eating away at my soul because I set impossibly high standards for myself.
(I know this is very similar to my post about moving. I almost apologized, but I have nothing to be sorry for. If you are still here, thank you for sticking with me for this long).
Last week, while I was at work, one of our customers mentioned her family was moving to another country. She told us that her attitude was very similar to owners of this blog, and how they say they are searching for what matters.
That really resonated with me. Just writing about it almost brings me to tears, because for most of my life, I have been chasing things that don’t last. I still am. My priorities have been what the world tells me they should be and not what makes my heart content.
What really matters to me? What am I searching for?
My relationship with God. The people I love. My health and well-being. Going on adventures and discovering the world around me.
But that’s not how I have been living. That’s what needs to change.
Disclaimer: I am not moving to another country. I’m keeping my retail job, because even though money doesn’t control my happiness, I kind of need it to live. I’m really not doing anything drastic.
I am simply asking myself what I want to keep.