Standing in the kitchen the other morning, unloading the dishwasher, I started to cry. Unexpected. And. Uncomplicated. I cried with the overwhelming knowledge that I love my life, that I have never fully appreciated it, and that I have never felt so happy and at home and complete, ever before in my life, the way that I do these days. I am used to struggling against the edges of my existence, desperately stretching to scratch an itch I can’t quite reach, rubbing up against anything and everything in an attempt to alleviate the aggravation.
But here, in Calgary, in this apartment with the killer view of downtown, where I wake up next to the love my life at the ungodly hour of 5:45 AM every day to go to a job that I love with a fierce joy, I have discovered a home and a belonging that I didn’t know I was capable of.
It’s not perfect. Nothing ever is. But it fits me like a glove.
Who. Am. I.
What makes up “me”? What do I believe in? What do I value?
I believe in helping those in need, in the best way that I know how: I know that I am lucky, and I believe with my whole heart that it is my responsibility to share that with others. Volunteering is critically important, and one relationship, one person, can change someone’s life forever. I want to be a force for good.
I often feel like a victim, though, like life and other people are messing me around on purpose, like I’m being buffeted by a cruel power that just likes to watch me suffer. How often have I found myself under the covers in bed, drowning in a depressive episode, moaning that it’s not fair, why do I have to be this way? How often do I get annoyed with people when I am not heard, though I do not try again? How often do I swear at people on the road, when I could just let it go?
I need to embrace my personal power more. Look what happens when I do: I end up crying in my kitchen out of pure joy. Two months ago, that was unthinkable. Two months ago, I was crying every day out of pure misery. I changed it. I made it different. We always have the power to choose. I can choose to take things into my own hands, or I can choose to languish. I can choose to get angry or I can choose to let it go. I don’t believe that gratitude is enough in and of itself to change a bad situation into a good one, but it sure as hell sets us on the right path. How are you supposed to embrace new opportunities when you’re entirely focused on how stuck you are?
I worry often that I am simply restless, that I have a restless soul and will forever be trying to find something else. Something other. But when I sit with myself in the quiet and listen to the thrum of my heartbeat, I understand a few things. I know that that restlessness does not come from the core of me, but from looking around at what others have and feeling envious, of thinking that I need to live up to other people’s expectations, that I need to live like someone else that I admire and look up to. I know that what I have is more than enough. That it doesn’t matter if I never see the world or achieve cult writer status. As long as I have love, as long as I have some reason to wake up in the morning, I will always be just fine.
I am ruled often by fear. We are not friends, but master and slave. Like most, I fight a constant battle for my freedom with fear. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose. But I truly believe that one of the most important things I can do to live a full life is to constantly push up against the boundaries of what I can do, to test myself, to push back against the fear and see what happens.
I am afraid of being a writer, so many days I avoid my desk completely.
I am afraid of rejection, so I hold myself back from people, protect my vulnerability, nurse my envy instead of my love. I don’t reach out to them if they don’t reach out to me.
I am afraid of being wrong, of not being the smartest person in the room, and so I get angry very quickly, I cut people down and treat them with disdain instead of meeting them with open, reasoned discussion. I act as though anyone who doesn’t agree with me is an idiot.
I want to be more open, more kind, more full of wonder. I want to be less angry and afraid.
I value love, friendship, vulnerability, creativity, compassion, and adventure. I will cultivate these things in my every day life more, pulling away from the negative things that are holding me back.
I will ask the girl at work to go on a coffee date.
I will work on listening more to others’ opinions with an open heart.
I will learn to let things go and be kinder, in thought, word, and deed.
I will lean into my fears. I will not let them control me.
I will do things that I’ve never done. I will take a new way home. I will bring little bits of adventure into my day to day life: a new workout, a new spice, a new, homemade shampoo.
I will lean into who I am, and what I value, and I will be better for it.
Now. Who are you?