If she got really quiet and listened, new parts of her wanted to speak. ~Sark
I am trying so hard to be quiet and listen to myself this season. Autumn is a time for slowing down, for reflection, less for doing and more for just being. As I seek a better understanding of who I used to be – who I want to be now – and who I want to become – I feel as though the season reflects my mood.
Lots of thinking and reflecting and remembering…when am I most myself? When have I been most joyful, alive… when have I forgotten time? Perhaps it’s not that new parts of me want to speak, but rather, parts of me that have been silenced for too long.
I long for adventure, and new experiences, but ones that I want to pursue. I want to take a solo road trip. I want to explore this area of the country, this part of the world that feels more like home to me than the place where I grew up ever did.
As I settle into my new job, as I figure out who I am and who I want to be in this season of life, how do I honor who I have been for the last 10 or so years, without losing sight of what I want to gain back from who I was before? I don’t want to ditch everything I’ve been so completely; there are certainly things about myself now that I think I like. I love my job… I love that I get to do what I do on a daily basis. I love where I live, and how determined and persistent I have been. I have goals – and I want to maintain those. But I want to get parts of me back that have been silenced for too long. I want to regain my independence, my sense of adventure, my yearning to learn new things, see new places, and find adventures that speak to me.
The hard part is that, while my husband does just fine with this, pursuing his own interests and ensuring that he has “him-time” to do so… I have not. I need to own this, to admit that I need this in my life – that I need to do this for me, and by myself. That this is not a joint pursuit, but is necessary to me not losing my self in the me I have become. Because I think for too long, as I have changed, grown, and evolved, I have tamped down the elements that make me, me. The pieces of me that are unique, and special, and that I really liked about me. And I have turned instead to those things that others choose for me. Why should I be limited by others’ ideas and preferences? I have room in my life to bring more of me back into it. This passive deferral to others is not me – it’s not who I ever was. I have been independent, and freethinking, since I can remember. I have rejected others’ ideas of who I should be, what I should do, and where I should live. I have owned those choices and they have been the best for me.
And yet I’ve lost that in the last few years. Probably – again – since my arm surgery (good grief, nearly 6 years ago now) and have taken the less-intense route of follow others’ wants and dreams and ideas.
It is time to dream again, to seek adventure again, to live again.
We are the authors of our stories, and we can change the way we are telling them. Unknown
You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending. James Sherman
Writing My Story
I’m finding myself more and more in tune with the idea of writing my own story, of examining where I am now in my life, vs. where I thought I would be at this age, this stage, this time in my life.
To say that reality does not match the ‘vision’ that I had for myself at age 18 is an understatement. Then again, is anything we think about our lives at age 18 truly a vision? Do we really know ourselves well enough to have a plan and a path mapped out that will align exactly with who we are, with how we evolve and change and grow over the many years of our lives?
Think about all of the changes that happen just after you graduate from high school – ostensibly a huge milestone event, one that sets you up for the rest of your life. Somehow, that seems a bit overstated for a transition out of one educational system into another.. and a transition from one developmental stage to another.
How can we know who we are, what we want, what we will become, when we have spent less than 20 years on this planet?
I know I didn’t know myself.
Spending some time this weekend navel gazing while prepping a presentation my ‘career trajectory’ and research for some undergrads… and it reminded me of just how little I knew about myself when I started this journey.
And yet, as I think about who I am now, who I was…it comes back to the very important question of who am I? At my core, what are my values? What are my beliefs? What makes me happy, fulfilled, and feeling the most-me-ish? I want to get back to that person, because I feel like over the last few years – really, since I left my previous job at another University, then quickly transitioned through two very-not-right positions for me – I have lost my sense of self, for lack of a better phrase. I have lost sight of who I am, not who people want me to be.
I just got paperwork from my therapist that asks me to remember a time when I felt alive, joyous, and, well, the most me. And the images that came to mind were all of me alone, exploring, and learning. My solo drives up and down the West coast when I had jobs out there. The northern California redwoods. Cannon Beach in Oregon. My time in Seattle. My times in Maine, attending a course but also exploring Acadia and other “me” places. Hiking by myself to the top of Cadillac Mountain. Moving to the Midwest to start my PhD program without knowing anyone, other than my academic advisor.
Taking the leap.
Exploring the beauty that is in this world. Seeking adventure. Seeking new experiences.
Always, always, with the beauty of home on the horizon, knowing I can return there when I am satisfied (for now!) with my explorations.
What is not in these mental images? Other people. My spouse. My parents. My sibling and his family. In all of them, I am by myself.
I value my independence. My ability to think and make decisions for myself. Supporting my interests – going where I want to go – doing what I want to do. Not what someone else dictates for me.
I think this is why I chafe at having no control over our banking / money. I rely on my spouse for that, and that needs to change.
I think this is also why I chafe at jobs where my goals and plans are dictated for me. Academia allows me the structure of a career, and advancement, while simultaneously allowing me to pursue my line of research. What interests me.
The other word that comes to mind when I try to characterize myself? Decisive. Even stubborn, sometimes.
And all of this makes me wonder, is my ideal life one in which I am married / partnered / with someone? Or am I truly an independent soul, who prefers her own company to that of others. Is that being indulgent? Self-absorbed? I don’t know. But I want to get back to that independent, free-thinking, decisive explorer. I want to go places that I want to go. I want to plan out my own life, and make my own decisions.
What that means going forward is an open question…but one I seek to answer. Because trying to live someone else’s life isn’t going so well. I know I can do this. I know I want to do this. Time to take the first steps…