I rang in 2015 underneath a balcony of a twenty-plus year old nightclub, my best friends and I trying to find some breathing room in what felt like a crowd of a thousand people. We spent the first twenty minutes of the brand new year trying to avoid getting trampled, albeit when I look back it was somewhat funny having to crowd-surf in order to get down the stairs. We danced, helped ourselves to free cocktails, and met some pretty attractive men in the process. It very much a once in a blue-moon experience, especially on a holiday like New Years Eve.
I often tried to re-create it several times afterward, from birthday celebrations to weekend trips to Iowa City. It’s not that it wasn’t necessarily fun as it used to be, but it didn’t feel as easy or as natural as it did nearly two years ago. I’d go with every intention of staying out late, but literally would be half asleep by midnight. Whenever weekend plans consisted of simply going to dinner and a movie, I’d start to wonder if I was limiting myself in some way:
Was this normal or acceptable for someone my age?
Would I miss out if I wasn’t doing something crazy or adventurous?
Am I becoming a boring person because my interests and priorities are changing?
Some days are a yes, and others are a no.
I could talk about how lately the ideal Friday or Saturday night is a combination of catching up over drinks and then eating pizza and watching Netflix or DVR’d TV shows in sweats. I could say that maybe I’m more inclined to explore the nooks and crannies of my favorite concrete jungle as opposed to traveling the entire world. I’m not one for “dating all types” because I of not just what I want, but what I need in a relationship. If I went out with anyone and everyone, I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons.There’s nothing wrong with seeking out substance, and I am becoming more comfortable with resting in the middle, as opposed to going to one extreme or the other. However, I have noticed traces of comparison and even jealousy, which leads me to believe that this is more of an identity issue than anything else.
This is nothing to be proud of, but some areas of my life have definitely been wrapped up in what I was “supposed” to do, or even what I “should” be doing right now. It’s challenging to avoid being swayed by articles detailing the ideal post-grad working person, or habits that need to be broken by the time I’m twenty-five or thirty. Some of us mature faster, and some of us are late bloomers. It might take a lifetime to learn how to be productive, mentally tough, or loving toward ourselves and others. To put a timeline on anything is unrealistic, and eventually becomes more about people-pleasing than becoming a better person.
Self discovery often seems like a thirst-quencher after a major change or transition. It provides comfort and security in the midst of what seems like a big question mark of unknowns. The reality is that we never really “find” ourselves, because we’re constantly changing and evolving. The only thing I can guarantee to be true about myself every single day is that I am a child of God, as well as a human being.
Maybe it’s time to stop searching and start embracing what is in front of me, and what is within me.
It doesn’t mean that I stop paying attention or go wherever the wind blows. When I’m in tune with who I am, I’m more likely to be truthful about the reasons behind why I’m doing something and to set myself back on course, if need be. There are things that I’ve done out of curiosity, but then they slowly turned into self-medication and numbing from what I didn’t want to feel (or face). And no matter what I did to try and escape, it never worked. The real hurt came from the fact that I was refusing to love myself as God made me, and anchoring my heart and spirit in my faith rather than my actions.
It’s a brick wall that I’ve run into on a number of occasions, mostly because every time I’ve tried to get back up, it was by my own strength alone. I know that I need to make some changes in my life, but this time I want to allow myself to be molded by truth, grace, encouragement, and hope instead of trying to do it all on my own.
If you want to call it a transformation of sorts, it is far from complete. It will always be present and always be in progress. This time around, I pray for one major difference: I need accountability, a person or couple of people who can check in with me every so often to see how I’m doing. Whatever this is, it has been a long time coming, and I’m tired of getting stuck in the same dark place on a repeated basis.
I’m ready. I surrender. And I don’t want to go back.