Extremes

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.

Lost and Found

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.