I’m not sure what’s in the air lately, but I have a lot of friends who are going through the most extreme parts of life and experiencing things in highs and lows with no middle ground. Be it marriage or heartbreak, love or loss, loneliness or fulfillment, everyone I know seems to be experiencing so much. Once is a coincidence. Twice is a coincidence. But three times is a pattern. And this summer seems to have a pattern of extreme emotions.
I love to listen to podcasts to hear what other people have to say about life. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is called “Ladies Who Lunch” (LWL) and while they’re no longer recording anything, I still listen to their old episodes somewhat frequently. A few weeks ago while I was donating plasma I turned on one of their episodes in which they talked about moving on and letting go and, while they said a lot of really great things, there was one thing in particular that stood out to me. They got a letter from someone whose father had passed away less than a week before, and the person in the letter was asking how they can move on from the hurt they were feeling. LWL gave the typical responses of surrounding yourself with friends and family who love you, doing things to keep yourself busy, etc. But after giving all of those suggestions they stopped for a second to let the person know that it’s okay to simply feel, and something about that really resonated with me.
Throughout the summer as I’ve watched my friends go through all different emotions (or even experienced them myself) I’ve noticed how we’re always trying to move on to the next emotion. If we’re sad, we want to stop being sad and feel something else. If we’re happy, we’re questioning our happiness and anticipating something else. Very rarely (particularly in moments of negative emotions) do we just let ourselves feel. I think this lack of accepting our emotions is another byproduct of our need to constantly desire more. But I also think it’s time for that to change.
If you’re sad, be sad. Let yourself feel. Let yourself hurt. Go through the motions and roll with the punches. I’m not saying you should wallow in self pity and go about life feeling miserable forever, but what I am saying is that sometimes it’s harder to move on from an emotion if you don’t fully understand what you’re feeling. Get comfortable with the pain so you know how to work through it. When you break a bone, you don’t just ignore it and hope it works itself out. You straighten the bone and look at x-rays and wrap it up in bandages and casts which will be full of pain and annoyance but by doing this, you’re understanding the injury so you can enhance the healing. You have to allow yourself to feel your hurt to understand it, and once you understand it you can heal from it.
The same goes for positive emotions. Stop questioning the way you’re feeling. Stop thinking the higher you go, the further you fall. Stop falling in love only thinking about the potential heartbreak. Stop feeling joy only thinking about the potential sorrow. Let yourself feel good. Even if the worst thing happens, at least you were able to truly enjoy some of the best parts of life.
We need to stop fighting things. Time is always on your side and it will keep moving even when you think you can’t, so it’s high time you just roll with the punches and enjoy the ride.
Almost every summer my family makes the trip out to North Carolina for a week-long vacation. We’ve been doing this practically every year since I was two or so, yet every year is filled with its own unique sense of adventure. When I was around the age of fifteen, I was sitting on a the pier closest to where we were staying and I had just taken a break from drawing in the little notebook I carried with me everywhere I went. As I was just watching the waves and the people on the shore and the seagulls flying overhead, not really thinking about anything in particular, a fisherman looked over at me and asked if I was alright.
“I’m sorry?” I asked in return.
“Darlin’, you look like a lost soul if I’ve ever seen one.”
I think I just kind of smiled and assured the man I was alright, just enjoying my time on the pier, but to be honest I don’t really remember what I said to him. But I never forgot what he said to me.
I remember that summer being a tough one for me – I went through a lot of personal challenges and I know I struggled quite a bit, so when that man said I looked like a lost soul I couldn’t help but wonder how right he was. I definitely felt lost, but I was astounded that a stranger noticed it as well.
It’s been nearly five years and I still think about what that man said to me on a regular basis. “You look like a lost soul…” practically plays on repeat in my head some days. I still wonder about the truth attached to that statement – about how lost I feel every once in a while (because let’s be honest, we’re all lost souls sometimes). But when I think back to my trip to the beach about a month ago, and I think about when I was standing on the pier next to three of my best friends – two from college, one from home – and about the week I had just had, I know ‘lost’ was the last word I would use to describe what I was feeling. Maybe I didn’t know exactly where I stood in life, but I knew what direction I was headed and to me, it was the right direction, and that’s all it takes to feel a little less lost, right?
Maybe I’m still a lost soul, but I like to think I’m a lost soul who’s a little more confident in her journey.
I’ve come to learn that we have a lot more control over our life than we think. Sure, we can’t control the choices or actions of others. Yes, the workings of the world around us are out of our hands. But we control our actions and our perceptions, and that’s a lot.
So, if you want to do something, do it. Maybe it will take time and hard work, but it can be done if you prioritize it and try.
If you want to be someone, be them. I don’t mean someone else, but merely a better version of yourself. The only one standing between who you are and who you want to be is you.
If you want to accomplish your dreams, keep pursuing them no matter how hard it gets or how crazy people think you are. You must be fearless in your pursuit.
Choose to be fearless.
Choose to be happy.
Choose to be you.
It’s like the wise Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
While I was driving home the other day from my cousins graduation party, I had one of the most blissful moments I think I’ve had in a long time. I was driving, and on my left were mostly blue skies with pink clouds scattered here and there, and to my right was the Western Sunset glowing orange and gray, emanating with the potential of a storm. I could see the rain falling in the distance as a storm was coming closer, and all I wanted to do was sit and watch as the storm drew near. I continued to drive until I found the first spot available to pull my car over so I could sit and revel in the beauty that surrounded me.
As I sat and watched only for a minute or two as the colors changed and the rain expanded from the small spot it was originally falling, I couldn’t help but feel mystified at the beauty of all that was around me. It was so amazing, and I wish a description or picture could do it justice, but it can’t. I began to think about how sometimes the world acts a lot like the way this moment felt – beautiful before wreaking havoc. Like, right when we’re in our highest moments in life and things are the most beautiful, it only takes a second for them to fall apart. That sounds a lot more negative than I mean it to, but I think it’s something we’re all used to experiencing – it’s just the highs and lows of life.
But even if they do fall apart, and even if things go downhill and we’re left at the bottom feeling numb and broken, I think it’s important to take a moment to appreciate the right now. We get so worried about the bad things that could come next that we forget to enjoy the good things are happening right in front of us. It could have been really easy for me to look into the distance and ignore the beauty of the changing colors all around me and focus only on the rain that was about to come. I could have gotten so captivated by the lightning or the impending storm that I didn’t even begin to think about how beautiful everything actually was, but I didn’t. There are times in our lives where I think we begin to get scared about being happy. It’s like we understand the concept of the ups and downs in life, and we know that the higher we get the further we fall. But I don’t believe anticipating the fall makes it any less scary, I think it just takes away from the thrill of the climb.
Just sit back, put your hands up, and enjoy the ride – every moment of it.
Intentionality – the fact of being deliberate or purposive. (Google Definition)
Intention – a determination to act in a certain way (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Not long ago I had an interview for a position as an orientation leader for my university for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. The interview was very laid back and consisted of three parts: an impromptu speech, a group activity, and a one-on-one interview. We rotated in groups and I just so happened to be one of the last people to take part in the one-on-one interviews. While I was waiting for my turn to go in I was thinking about my transition into college and what advice I would offer first-year students based off of my own experiences. This wasn’t my first time thinking about this, but I figured giving it some extra thought might be helpful considering there was a very good chance I would be asked a similar question. Luckily for me, that was one of the very first questions I was asked.
At first I wasn’t sure. There is a lot I would want to tell a person making such a large life transition, and a lot that I wish I would have known, but nothing I was thinking of seemed good enough. But then I remembered a quote that I had read in The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst: “Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.” I have this quote written on my calendar in my dorm, and beneath it, in bold letters, I have written, “BE INTENTIONAL.” So, when the interviewer asked me what advice I would offer a new student, I said that I would tell them to be intentional with their choices. It will be so tempting and easy to do what you want without putting much thought into your decisions because you finally have that extra freedom you never had before… I mean, you’re in college, right? But only so much time will pass before you realize that these decisions you’re making aren’t paying off in the way that you hoped they would.
As I was talking to the interviewer, I felt as if I were giving myself advice more than anything. I dedicate a lot of time and energy doing things that I know (or at least hope) will put me closer to a goal that I hope to achieve. Being intentional with my choices can be really easy when it comes to large scale decisions, but what about the smaller things that I do with little thought? Things such as the way I communicate with others, the music that I listen to, or even the people that I surround myself with seem to happen automatically, but maybe they shouldn’t.
A few days ago I asked a friend how you can know if you’re on the path that God laid out for you and she said that as long as you’re being intentional and praying about all aspects of your life – big or small – you’re on the right track.
Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances, but each day is full of thousands of choices… how intentional are you being with yours?