Let Go

When I look back on my life, I begin to see what was probably obvious to everyone else: I’ve been a control freak. In college, I tried so hard to find new friends that I effectively scared them away from me. Instead of letting things happen organically, I tried to force it.

As more of a tomboy, I sought out the friendship of boys. And as anyone could guess, that often led to trouble during my college years. I found myself on accidental dates. Or worse: the time I asked an acquaintance out for coffee.

I really wanted a friend and he was someone I admired. I knew he had no romantic interest in me. I just wanted to talk and maybe become friends. He didn’t reply to the message I sent. That’s the last time I remember interacting with him.

There were so many times I did this to myself. I worried and clutched tight when I really needed to let go. Letting go is one of those things that sounds so simple yet always leads to a struggle. It could be key to happiness for so many people, myself included.

If I could just let go of my grip, some of the bad things would blow away. And that would leave my hands open to receive the good things life has to offer. This is the great lesson at this time in my life.

I switched to a new job. It’s not perfect for me, but I really can’t complain. The atmosphere is tenfold better, which was enough for me to accept a pay cut. Except I actually ended up with a raise instead.

Everything seems to be lining up, except one tiny detail: it’s temporary. It could end if funding doesn’t allow them to renew my contract. And as a recovering control freak, that is downright terrifying. (Perhaps this is when I am forced to recover? Can a control freak be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to?)

Maybe life’s trying to help me with this self-improvement project. This job could be exactly what I need in ways I could never have guessed. Worrying isn’t going to help my situation. So I’m trying to just sit back and enjoy the ride, wherever it may lead.

It’s time to let go of the worry, anxiety, and anger. It’s time to start fresh with open, empty palms. That way, when opportunity sweeps in, I’ll be ready to catch it.

Cheers to letting go.

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Photo credit: another.point.in.time via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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Trials and Triumphs

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Life is crazy. On my previous post, I was having bad luck in finding a new job. But right after that post, everything turned around. And now I have a new job. In a new city. Just like I wanted. Crazy, huh?

And now everything has changed.

Sometimes you don’t realize the friends you’ve made until it comes time to say goodbye. I’ve been so wrapped up in some of the things that weren’t going right that I missed some of the wonderful things I already had in front of me. I wanted to get out of this town so badly that I tried to distance myself from people. I didn’t want to make friends that I would have to say goodbye to someday. Or become so attached that I decided to stay. Looking back, it was all because of my ego.

I wanted to feel more important and bigger than what I thought I was. But truthfully, I’ve always been big and important in my own way. I had just lost my confidence. I didn’t feel like I mattered. But it was all in my head, because I matter to many people. Despite trying to keep my distance, I got sucked in. I made friends. And it’s bittersweet that I get to move on. I finally get what I’ve been wanting for a long time now. It’s just as sad as it is exciting. Goodbyes are never easy.

When my husband and I moved to this city over five years ago, we knew no one. Yet we’ve met so many great people here. This job that I’ve complained about has brought me where I am today. I couldn’t do this if I hadn’t gone through the trials and triumphs at my previous position. Today was my last day. It’s strange to call it my previous job.

Truly, whatever you’re going through, no matter how long you’ve been there, it is for a reason. And it may not be the reason you think of.

I used to wonder what lesson I wasn’t learning. It was the only way I could explain why I was still stuck in my circumstances. Now I see that I wasn’t doing anything wrong that needed corrected. I simply needed to grow stronger. I needed to regain the “mojo” I lost.

I’ve learned how to be more fully me. At work, I was able to take off the mask and let my real self out. And it was empowering. I lost the meek demeanor I had taken on. My confidence is back, but I am not as arrogant as I once was.

I needed to be knocked off my feet. I needed to rebuild to become a better version of myself-and that had to start from the bottom. This has not been a fun transformation. There have been dark, dark moments and bouts of hopelessness, despite the appearance of calm happiness.

I knew my circumstances were not terrible. I just longed for them to be better. I longed to fly, even while feeling the joy of running. I just wanted more. And now I’m reaching out for it.

I don’t look down on where I’ve been. That job, that city, and that community helped the transition. If anything, I owe a debt.

It is wonderful to feel this enlightened and positive after years of lingering on the negative. I see now that I am blessed with a capital “B”.

I didn’t always see what lay before my feet. I didn’t see the light because of one shadow on the wall. But I’m better now. My eyes have been opened. I’ll look back on this phase in my life as a time of tumultuous change, but not the change of darkness. It was a painful molding process. Change can hurt. But often, we look back and see that it was for the best. And if we don’t change, we don’t get that lightning moment where we realize that all is not lost. And we have so much more than we realize.

I go on to the next phase with a new job in a new location, just as I hoped. But now, I’m strong enough to do it. Thank God the world isn’t as I once perceived it. For all the terrible things out in the world, there is also good. And it can be so easy to miss out on the good things if we accept the bad as truth. Today, my truth has changed. And I choose to seek out the positives.

I choose a new path.

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Not Quite There

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My dreams once felt within my grasp. But there are times they float a little farther from me. But like a balloon on a string, they never go too far. Some days I feel like letting go of the string. But I can’t. This string is tied to me. In the rash movement of emotion, I can’t undo the knot. And once my mind calms, I realize I don’t want to untie it.

Some days, I sit and wish my lost hope would return. Then I feel a gentle tug. The dream is still there and within it lives hope. Never too far away.

Our eyes see what we want them to see. We can easily overlook the horrible things we see in the street, turning them into an unimportant blur in our memory. We can convince ourselves we are 12 feet tall and invincible or that we stand small as a thimble. If we are invisible, it is because we have made ourselves unnoticeable.

That gentle tug of our dreams isn’t always enough to pull us out of our own self-induced sadness. We’ve told our eyes that it’s dark and we can’t see, despite the lanterns lighting the way. We tell our cold legs that they can’t go on, despite the warm sun on the horizon. How easy it is to fall into that pit of despair when there is less to despair than we want to believe.

Life can be dramatic. Or we can make it so. And that can work in two different ways. We can be enthused and in awe of what’s around us in such a passionate display that people stop and take notice. Or we can convince ourselves that all is lost and there is no way out, even when the doorway is within sight.

The craziest thing about all of it is that we are in control. We have so much more control of our lives than we often believe. But we don’t have to take charge of our fate. We can sit quietly in place and let the world pass us by with all of the good and bad it may or may not bring. Anyone can live a passive life.

I want to live an adventure.

I want to stop in my tracks and gawk at the wonder surrounding me. I want to appreciate the things that have been put here to be appreciated. I want to see potential where others see misfortune. I want to reach up when I feel like collapsing down.

That comes from within. And if it’s not there now, it can be nurtured back in from wherever you buried it, no matter how long ago. But it takes time and patience. Self-forgiveness can be just as difficult as standing tall during trials.

Today, choose to see the best. See what could be instead of what is lacking.

Love instead of hate.

Be alive!

You will get there someday.

Photo credit: derekskey / Foter / CC BY

My Better Half

There’s a saying that your significant other is your better half. I know it’s meant to be a compliment to them, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s really an insult to both of us. I’ve been downgraded by society since I got married. Somehow, I went from being a full, independent person to being viewed as half of a person.

Together, we are not two halves. We are two FULL people now unified by our commitment to each other. I refuse to accept that marriage has downgraded me to half a person.

But not everyone agrees. I lost a lot of friends when I got married. Suddenly, my single friends didn’t think we could hang out or relate. I didn’t change; my marital status did. I’m half a person to them (and now a stranger).

I also feel like I’ve been thrown away by others close to me. They think it doesn’t matter if I don’t have a career, because my husband will take care of me. But I didn’t waste thousands of dollars and four years in college just to throw away any aspiration of having my own career.

Even in the closest relationships, it’s important for both people to have some measure of independence and individual goals. Otherwise you end up co-dependent, which doesn’t allow for a healthy relationship.

I used to think feminists were just crazy ladies imagining inequality, but as I’ve gotten older, I see what they see. After all, I’m living in the gender gap. I’ve been thrown away, even by people who may not have meant to throw me away. Even by people who care about me. They care, but they don’t think I have what it takes to get by in the world on my own.

The better half of me has been disregarded. My better half consists of my skills, talents, drive, etc. Instead of being recognized for the better parts of me, I’m seen as only a woman. No one to take note of.

I practice target archery. Though I’m not the only female archer in my area, there tend to be more men than women. On one of our casual shoots, there was a guy I’d never met before. And I was the only female there.

Before we got started, he told me not to giggle during the shoot. It was a tasteless, sexist joke, but I smiled at him and brushed it off. Then he brought it up again mid-shoot. I still managed to shrug it off again, but afterwards it really bothered me.

He had no intention of taking me serious as an archer, despite the fact that I out-shot my husband at that shoot. This man saw me as some giggling schoolgirl instead of another competitor. I didn’t come there to giggle. I came there to shoot. Just like him and every other archer there. Why should I be considered the fool?

Think of how ridiculous he would sound if he said that to one of the guys. They wouldn’t have tolerated it. And honestly, I shouldn’t have either. I’m tired of being treated as a naive, foolish girl when I am a grown, capable woman. Yes, I compete with the men, because it’s about my skill level, not my gender.

This needs to stop. All these labels need to stop. A person cannot be fully described by one word. They are so much more than that. I am not just a female. He’s not just a gay man. She’s not just a mother. The list goes on.

We are so much more than the label forced upon us.

And that is what the world is truly afraid of.

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Photo credit: jjay69 / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

It’s Okay to Love Art

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I’ve always excelled in school and book work. I didn’t particularly love math, but at least I didn’t loathe it. I was curious about the world and how it worked.

Biology and environmental science drew me in. But I found that although I had the aptitude to excel in the scientific classroom, I really didn’t care to know why the sky is blue. I just loved the fact that it grows darker and lighter depending on where you look. It’s a privilege to see how it explodes into beautiful colors in the right conditions. Real scientific, huh?

I can excel and flourish in science and math, but I really just want to observe life and create. I’m curious to why things happen the way they do, but I hate the step-by-step scientific process to figure it out.

When I’m really honest with myself, I realize that I’ve never actually been good at the scientific process. I get bored doing things in an exact, precise way that never changes or is challenged.

What I love is the human condition. We are capable of such wonderful beauty. And at the same time, we can be so terrible that the acts we commit are unspeakable. We are conflicted. We are not one thing, but many and all at once. It’s our greatest feat to be so varied and yet sometimes so predictable in nature. It’s a mystery, even as we think we have it all figured out.

Just because you’re artistic doesn’t mean you can’t excel in science and math. But equally, just because you excel in science and math doesn’t mean you can’t create. I am many things, all rolled into one. Varied and yet predictable. We all are.

Considering how long I’ve identified myself with science, this is actually kind of ground-breaking for me. I now have permission to be what I’ve always been afraid to be: creative. I’ve let the world beat it out of me. Everyone says you can’t make a living by being artistic or creative. You must be able to do well at math and develop analytical skills. Don’t try to think outside the box; just follow the rules like everyone else. Don’t rock the boat.

But innovation comes from these things.

I’ve been so convinced that I can’t make a career out of creativity that I’ve been successful in not making a career out of my analytical skills. I’m frustrated in my career because I’m not being true to who I am. They say follow your passion and the money will also follow. I’m finally starting to understand what that means. I haven’t been making a career because I’ve been trying to force myself to fit into a field I don’t belong in.

It’s time to break free. It’s time to be me. Free. Creative. Artistic. Me.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

 

Photo credit: Matthew Kenwrick / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Instantaneous Me

We are a society that demands and encourages instant gratification. It’s the reason people struggle to stick to their budget–they want what they want and they want it now. It’s the reason some people overeat or binge on junk food. They must have their food now, no matter the caloric cost. It’s why people actually buy those diet pills that promise weight loss in just two weeks. They don’t want to sweat it out and lose the weight naturally (and slowly) through habit changes.

We are an impatient people.

But despite our desires for instant results, life changes and progresses in baby steps. Sometimes the steps seem so insignificant that we don’t even know how we got where we are now. We can’t retrace our steps.

I want change. I think that’s quite obvious from my previous posts. But I wanted a big, explosive, life-changing event with instantaneous results. I wanted to be propelled forward into that grand, picturesque future. But life doesn’t work like that. There’s growth that must be had along the way. Instant results are bad for us. As it is said, the struggle brings character. It makes us stronger. Wiser.

I’ve overlooked so many baby steps. I don’t know how I got where I am today. I couldn’t do it over again in the exact same way. But I am here. And those little steps–those tiny changes–got me here. Some were so small that they felt insignificant. But together, they created my life as I know it today.

I’m too impatient. I want the big screen TV without the big screen budget. Life doesn’t offer credit cards. You can’t get what you want without the actual resources you need. But in the end, I think we’re all fully equipped for the future we’re meant for. We just have to have the courage to use those resources. The courage to act. To risk. To let go. To be patient.

Even a change in mindset can be a step in the right direction. The key is to keep moving. Something great lies ahead, but it’s not the end; it’s just a place along the path. A place to linger and enjoy the view. But the sun is hot and you’ve got to keep moving. One foot in front of the other. One good thing at a time with anticipation of the next one ringing in your ear. Avoid the snakes on the path. Stop. Breathe. Learn. Be grateful. Therein lies the reward.

We just have to be patient.

The Luckiest Day of My Life

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Do you ever wonder why the person who expects the worst always seems to get the worst? It’s that whole “just my luck” business. When people say, “That’s just my luck,” they are implying that they never have good luck. Most of the time that’s just an exaggeration, but some actually believe that they don’t get any breaks in life.

It’s strange how the world works sometimes. I’m beginning to realize that my attitude needs some adjusting. I’ve been too busy searching out the worse scenario to see the good things happening around me. When you’re just waiting for the next bad thing to happen, it tends to fill you with unnecessary fear. And fear can ruin your day over and over again unless you learn to let go of it.

So instead of always speeding towards a stoplight in anticipation of it flicking to yellow or red, I need to sit back and just accept whatever may come. It’s not going to kill me to wait for a red light and if I get green, that’s a nice bonus to my day.

Maybe if I relax and let the dice fall as they may, the circumstances might fall in my favor. Yesterday, I decided to test that theory. I got a little angry at something that happened at work. Instead of stewing about it, I just let myself feel it and found something else to do to release that anger. Sure enough, it started to diminish. Instead of expecting my day to get worse, I just dealt with what I had been given and moved past it. And it kept me from ruining my own day.

Then, on my drive home, I didn’t rush or get uptight about traffic. I just leaned back in my seat and tried to remember to relax. Usually, when I’m rushed and in a hurry, I hit red lights at every intersection. But today, in my relaxed state, I was met by more green lights than red. And I didn’t get upset by the red ones. It made my mental state so much better when I walked in the door to greet my husband.

Did the fates align and produce good circumstances because of my attitude change? No. I’m sure I don’t hit as many red lights as I think I do. I just make mental notes of the red lights instead of the green ones. And in doing that, I choose to make myself miserable. But not anymore. Now, I want to choose to be joyful and full of hope. I want to remember the good stuff.

We have much more control over our lives than we often choose to believe. We may not be able to wield our circumstances to our will, but we can choose how we react. There’s something to be said about taking things as they come and making the best of the circumstances we’re given. It’s easy to focus on what we lack instead of seeing what we have. We have to choose the right kind of focus.

Too many times, I’ve made myself the victim instead of empowering myself to change with the circumstances and to accept what may come. If you believe yourself a loser, you subconsciously set yourself up to do things that make you a loser. I am my own worst enemy. *Cue the Lit music*

New Year’s Day is coming up, so it’s the prime time for some self-evaluation. I’m tired of playing the victim. I’m better than that. I will accept my circumstances and focus on the good things that come despite the bad I’ll also encounter. I’m not going to call this a resolution, because you condemn it by giving it that name. (How many New Year’s resolutions are broken year after year?) This is a change I’m choosing to enact.

There’s some truth to making your own luck. You may not be able to make yourself win the lottery, but you can make yourself feel like the luckiest person you know. It’s all perspective, after all.

 

Photo credit: kaibara87 / iWoman / CC BY