life

9.

Have you ever met people who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their life? I have a friend who I met when we were just teenagers. It was so apparent to me he was meant to create music. I remember sitting in the music room where I pretended I could harmonize, watching my friend light up while he sang and went against the grain. It was so clear who he was going to be in that moment.

That same year, I spent an entire weekend forcing a thought on what I should do with my life. If I racked my brain any harder I’m sure I would’ve popped a blood vessel (it’s still up for debate if I did). All I could come up with was generic answers about changing the world. I was disappointed and frustrated in myself that I couldn’t figure it out.

A few years ago I had a particularly intense year of work and decided to take a solo vacation. (One of the perks of being a single working woman.) As an extrovert, taking a week to not talk to a soul was a new experience for me. My mind would wander most at night, when I’d sneak down to the beach and lay in the cool sand watching the moon shimmy behind the floating clouds. I wrote, and I thought a lot, hoping I’d get the answer to the question that still miffed me, “What am I supposed to do with my life?”

You never forget the moment the purpose giver speaks to the purposeful. It wasn’t a glamorous moment. In fact, I almost missed it. I had come from the bathroom to walk down the stairs to play a pick up game of volleyball when the thought brushed quietly through my mind – your greatest purpose is to love.

How simple? How broad? Isn’t that even cliché? I knew that I was to love, but when I stopped to really think about it I realized how revolutionary that thought was. My whole life I was looking for something totally different. I was looking for significance in doing something. Although if our purpose is to love, then being an artist, a mother, or a mayor is a way to express and give it. We certainly can do all those things that we are gifted at well, but without love we won’t feel fulfilled in our purpose. And who knows maybe you are so gifted, you may just change those avenues a few times in your lifetime.

Here’s the truth: Our purpose isn’t to prove the value of our existence by doing things. Our purpose is acknowledging the value of our existence by loving. At the end of my life, I don’t think I’ll ask if I got it all right, but I’m certain I’ll reflect back and wonder if I loved well.

 

x.

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8.

I found myself slouched on the floor in my tiny bathroom sobbing while replaying the moment in my head over and over again. A friend of my family was in town speaking at a major event that evening. I made a point to go hear her, though I was exhausted from a long week with little sleep. At the end of the night, I worked up the nerve to go say hi, which meant I had to say hello to several people awkwardly just to get to her. By the time I made it to her, my anxiety was on high and my social cues were on low.

Unfortunately no one I said hello to was privy to the fact she was a close family friend, so when I asked her if she was pregnant as my opening line, they were dumbfounded. The family friend knew me well, so she laughed and saved the moment by asking me about my life. After 15 minutes of catching up I went to leave to see the group had disappeared.

Later, my friend who had tagged along with me told me how furious the event heads were at the situation and how awkward she felt. Needless to say, I was mortified. I knew my “uncouth statement” was the talk of the group by the looks and standoff nature I was getting in the weeks following.

I was devastated. Not only was my “people pleasing” bruised for disappointing people I valued, but I also didn’t know what to do when I felt hurt by people above me that I trusted. I was used to mentors sitting me down and asking what was going on in a conversation and seeing the best in me.

If they had just asked, they would’ve known she was family. If they had just asked, they would’ve known my stress and exhaustion from life was on overload. But they didn’t.

Instead, my heart hurt in a space I felt like I was supposed to feel safe. I was trying to keep a good heart, but the hurt would bubble up all over again when something new happened that wounded my heart.

It has taken time, but I’ll say I’ve learned a few things from those kind of moments.

I had to learn how to see leaders in their humanness. They are held to a high standard I couldn’t even uphold at times. The perspective that they are figuring out life just like I am, help me allot more grace towards them.

I had to learn how healthy and important boundaries are, especially as a people pleaser. It’s an addiction you know – people pleasing. It’s that urge to say ‘yes’ to not disappoint someone or tarnish their view of you. Creating boundaries according to conviction, kindness and intention goes a longer way than saying yes to everything. Something I am still learning.

The hardest thing I’ve had to learn was to let my heart break when it is hurt. I thought most of my life that if I just held it together, plastered on a smile and believed for the best, it would be just fine. But at some point you’re going to want to feel more than the dull simmer of just fine. It’s starts with facing wherever the pain is stuffed. Facing pain is apart of the process. It’s not a weakness. It’s not stepping backwards. Nor will it break you to a point of no return.

Here’s the truth: when you find grace for human nature, set healthy boundaries, and face your pain, you’ll find a healthier and freer you.

 

x.

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