After a chaotic whirlwind of events, have you ever looked around at your life and wondered aloud as you stood in the hurricane-wreckage, “Uh … who am I and how did I get here?”
Let’s just get it out in the open: 2015 was a struggle that left its own kind of bruises. Everything fell apart. Relationships crumbled and friendships ended. Fear and doubt took root as events unraveled and the places I once found myself at home in no longer felt that way. Trust slipped out from underneath me and I was panic-stricken about my degree and uncertain future. It was all turning out wrong. My mental health deteriorated, my family was dumbfounded about how to handle it and my mind didn’t hesitate to spew self-hatred and hopelessness.
I know it sounds cliché, but I spent all of last year trying to pick up pieces and figure out who I was. I felt really, seriously lost, waking up every day and realizing the girl in the mirror was not the bubbly, everything-to-everyone, beloved role model people wanted and knew me to be.
Identity-striped. Try to start all over. Find new “normal”. In the aftermath of chaos, you’re left vulnerable and naked. And it’s not an easy place to be—it’s downright scary.
2015 was a humbling year of weeping in the arms of others, holding on for dear life and deciding, somewhere along the way, I was born a fighter and I was going to conquer this battle. Even though I’ve always lived as if change is the enemy, I would have to embrace and fit into the new skin I hardly recognized.
No going back now.
I did what I could. I said goodbye to the old things, people and places that no longer challenged me to be better or brought me joy. As months sped by, I had to make a conscious effort to choose people, community and vulnerability. And I learned so much. I began to wrap myself in one of the most important loves of all: self-love.
So, this is a letter.
A letter to the fighters who have been fighting a war within and around them for a really long time. To the weary and exhausted, hoping the light finally dawns. To the ones rooting against themselves. To the ones hiding, afraid their secret-wars are a burden to others and terrified they’ll be seen as “different”.
Brave woman, I need to tell you something: we are oftentimes our worst enemy.
We spend so much time discouraging ourselves, fighting against ourselves and setting impossible standards for ourselves. Please know this: you’re allowed to rest. You’re allowed to be still and take life at a slower pace. You’re allowed to go the unconventional route and to feel proud you know what’s best for you – and yeah, you’re doing your absolute best.
It’s a totally counter-culture thought, isn’t it? Radical. We glorify busyness and end up missing the full richness of life— the small, insignificant moments…
Fast forward to January 2016. I’m sitting in my undergraduate supervisor’s office and she’s scribbling in a black notebook as I try not to let the emotion spill into a flood. I recount the horror of a story of a few days past. About how the red and blue sirens flashed and wailed and ended up parked in my driveway for hours. How words crackled into the phone line as I waited 911 to transfer me, begging God to wake up from this dream. How school and concentration were two words that don’t fit into my puzzle anymore.
And she looked me in the eyes, piercingly blue, and told me my options. I had decisions to make. I could try to make it through the semester or go part-time. Part-time. Thoughts raced of self-failure.
I had to intentionally smash my pride to bits just so I could take that brave, radical step— a step towards my own team. Realizing that rest is just as important as hustling.
Stress-relief turned into just-relief. Pure, sweet, I-can-breathe-again relief.
You are important. And you can shake mountains and change people’s worlds. You have that power and you’ve wielded it before. Your journey is yours. This life, it’s yours. You get to call the shots. You get to stand up for yourself. You get to love what you do. You get to tell “guilt” he can hightail it out of your mind when you take that rest-day to just sip tea and read good books. You get to say “no thanks” to culture when it tries to shove ideas down your throat and tell you who you are.
Because the truth is you are exactly just the right amount of enough. Right now. In the mess, the pain, the confusion, the figuring-it-out-ness state of being; and in the peace and quiet, hope and anticipation. In all of it – you are enough.
There’s absolutely nothing shameful about knowing and believing and living this truth out. In fact, it’s the bravest thing you could ever do.
Cheering you on,
– image credit: Lindyn Williams