A Wild Life

When I’m old and grey (actually white, I hope), I want to look back on my life and feel like I did something. I don’t want to die having done nothing but sit around and blog. Besides, blogs aren’t interesting if you don’t get out and have experiences that are worth writing about. I hope I live a wild life full of stories, stories of terror and fear, stories of despair and grief, stories of joy and elation. I want people to gasp. You really did that? or That really happened? You’re not making that up? 

This is why I don’t have any regrets. Everything I’ve ever done, even the worst mistakes, has shaped my life. No good story is all oatmeal cookie; there’s gotta be some raisins in there. Of course I don’t approve of everything I’ve done, and I feel sorry if any of my mistakes have harmed others. I feel natural and healthy guilt until I apologize and get right with God and with others, and then I cement the encounter into my metaphorical journal.

I want to go off to college and meet new people. I want to study abroad in a French-speaking country. Or anywhere! I want to travel the world. I want to join the Peace Corps so I can help people in new ways. I want to teach kindergarten. I want to write a memoir. There are so many things I want to do! Adulthood is coming, and it will be amazing.

I pray that the Lord blesses me with a wild life.

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Growth Hurts

I loved my junior year. Everybody else seemed to be stressed, but I was in my happy little world of denial. I had a cozy little place in my social world and felt a deep sense of belonging as a result of that. I spent hours doing whatever made me happy and felt content almost all of the time. If I was forced to repeat one year of my life for the next ten years, I would certainly choose junior year. It was the time of my life.

It was enjoyable, but was it fruitful? Hardly.

Of course I learned things. I discovered some things about myself, primarily concerning identity and ambition. I just can’t say my life was radically changed. After each completed year of high school, I always chose one core lesson I learned that year that was represented in a new piercing. Freshman and sophomore years were easy for me to pick, but not last year, because I didn’t do a whole lot of maturing. Of all the years in my life, I learned and grew the least during junior year. Why? Because I was comfortable. 

It is impossible to make enormous strides in maturity or confidence when you’re comfortable. Remember when you were little and you’d lie awake at night because your legs were aching? Those were growing pains. Growing pains. You have to give up some of your satisfaction in order to mature. If you’re not willing to give it up, well, you’ll be forced to; often our satisfaction is stripped from us by circumstances out of our control. You have to decide whether to become bitter and stubborn or to allow yourself to learn and cherish the time you have to improve yourself.

I wouldn’t take back junior year. I think it was important for me to get a break from growing for a bit, as I’d been doing quite a lot of it in the years prior. However, I wouldn’t trade the growing I’m doing now for another year of fun. In the long run, there’s nothing “fun” about being stagnant. Besides, who would ever want to be sixteen forever?

Post-Epiphanies

After a life-changing epiphany, there’s always a high. The first few days following are magical. Nothing could ever break you, nothing could ever bring you down, everything is going to be align. This high wears off shortly when you realize that changing your life actually takes work and is rarely something that is fixed in a moment of positive emotion. When this happens, you have to make the choice between falling back into old patterns (i.e. the easy route) or fighting tooth and nail until you start seeing changes (the hard route).

And so here I am. The high from my epiphany earlier this month, referenced in my previous post, has worn off. It would be so much easier to let it go, like every other potentially life-changing experience I’ve had. Just wait for the next emotional transformation. Yes, that would be easy, but my mind has grown to be more practical. Life is not run by emotions. If I actually want to become a new person, I have to make sacrifices and lifestyle changes. The epiphany was the launch; the progress afterwards comes from flapping my wings.

I refuse to continue waiting around for the next emotional high. I will not be a slave to whims; I’m taking hold of the reins and steering myself towards where I want to be. What does this mean, practically? It means I force myself to get outside and run, even if I’m more comfortable on the couch under my cozy blankets. It means I refrain from needy behavior and passive-aggressive communication. It means I consistently reassure myself that I deserve love and compassion. It means I quit going through old conversations and recalling memories so that I can live in the present moment.

I am creating the life my epiphany showed me I could have.

 

Healing From the Ceiling

The other night I wrote about how God turned from me when I needed him, and how I realized I was essentially talking to the ceiling. Last night, the ceiling–in the metaphorical sense; I am not hearing voices–talked to me. It’s funny how God has delayed reactions, isn’t it? Maybe heaven and earth are so far removed from each other that messages get caught in the void for a little bit.

Last night, right before bed, I had a conversation with an estranged friend. It would not be appropriate for me to go into details, but I can say that it poked something deep inside me. For the past few months, I’ve been distressed over some personal matters, and it has been painful for me to reflect on happy memories from a particular good time in my life. After the conversation, I closed my eyes. Something told me, go back to those memories and feel them. All of them. I didn’t fight it. I gathered all the sweet memories I’ve been repressing and let them all flood into my consciousness. For a straight five minutes, I cried so hard I could barely breathe.

Eventually the emotions subsided. I felt more purely free than I had in months. There was a new voice in my mind, and it was wise and comforting. I had a conversation with it. To an outsider, it would’ve looked like I was talking to myself, but I think that the voice–God–was using my voice as his. Honestly, I can’t even describe it, but the words that voice was telling me were far more mature than what I would always come up with my own mind.

After some time of talking with God, I am fully confident that I am called to be alone right now. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to cut myself off from people and become a hermit. I am talking about aloneness in terms of intimacy. My life has been lacking closeness lately. I don’t have a “group” or a “person,” and it’s been excruciating to see everybody else have one. God has told me that it needs to be this way for a time.

For the past few years, I’ve been hyper-focused on my relationships with others. My happiness, my lifeblood, my identity–every bit of it depended on my friendships. If a friend was upset, it would ruin my week. If I was happy, it was surely because I’d had a good time with friends. I only felt validated in the presence of other people. If anything went wrong in my interpersonal relationships, I would freak out and become desperate. It got to the point where if a friend was upset with me, I would cruelly punish myself. I could not assert myself in personal relationships at all; I constantly blamed myself. I had no idea who I was besides what others said about me. Honestly, it was extremely unhealthy.

I don’t need to hear, “Join clubs and find people who share your interests!” or “Try to spend more time with people so you can get closer!” No. I need to heal. I need to find out who I am and learn how to make myself happy rather than depending on others. I need to work on the abandonment and attachment issues that have sabotaged my life. Until I’ve figured myself out, getting into other close relationships will only be a repeat of the same old patterns.

Again, I’m not going to hide from the world. I’ll still be my same old sociable self, and I’ll still hang out with people every now and then. But I won’t chase closeness or try to find a “place.” I’m not in a position to be close with people right now. I need to finally, finally get close to myself and to God. It won’t be an easy feat for an affectionate, fun-loving extrovert like myself. But it will be done. In time, I’ll become so comfortable with my own company that I won’t need others so much. God will sustain me, and I’ll never go hungry with him. Yes, I’m hopeful that one day soon I’ll be at a point where I can maintain healthy friendships, but today isn’t that day. I need to be alone right now–and not so I can strive to be a better friend, because that would defeat the purpose of this healing. I’m trying to learn how to not center my entire life on others, how not to be obsessed with becoming a better friend. My end goal is to end this constant dependency and learn how to rely on God and myself for satisfaction.

I’m not scared anymore. In fact, I might even be a little bit excited. It’s going to be interesting, painful, and of course, lonely. But I have never been so confident in my life that I’m going to be fully healed soon…

Because God turns lonely into lovely.