Why, at times, does it feel like the hardest thing we’ll ever do, is live this life for ourselves? Take narcissists out of the equation, and it seems kind of backwards, doesn’t it?
We come into this life as a single, whole person. We start whole, because we know no different. As we grow, we break. We begin the process of learning and learning is hard. Learning hurts. Learning results in growth, and growing pains are a real thing. We adopt expectations of others, we conform to social norms, commit to tradition, tradition, tradition, and BAM, our lives are decided for us rather than by us.
As we become adults, the growing pains don’t become less painful or less frequent, we just become really good at coping and numbing the pain in creative, dysfunctional ways. It’s quite impressive, some of the shit we come up with to erase pain from our existence.
Into adulthood, we bring new discoveries and vices that we didn’t have as adolescents, when shit really started to suck. But as adults, we’re free to do as we please. We’re free to make choices only real adults can make.
As adults, we can choose to become formally educated, or we can learn while backpacking through Europe or Morocco. We can learn a skill that makes us a specialist or we can sing in clubs every night. As adults, we make choices to let go of old habits and relationships or hang on to them because, who gives a shit, I can do what I want.
We are free.
Well if I’m so free, then why did I kick my own ass to ensure I acquired the American dream by the time I was 30 years old? The pressure cooker I lived in didn’t feel so freeing, it felt hot as fuck.
If I’m so free, why did I bury my own feelings for years on end in fear of everyone else’s expectations of me and reaction to my truth? Choosing to suffocate oneself under a mountain of accomplishments didn’t feel freeing, it felt fraudulent.
If I’m so free, why have I continued to allow others to dictate my feelings? That wasn’t freedom my friend, that was a surrender of power for temporary acceptance.
I’m an adult, and I am in charge, but I am far from free.
To live a life for oneself after living years for other people, it’s jolting. It’s confusing. It’s fucking messy. And it’s no one’s doing but my own.
At no other point in my life have I gotten up each day as unsure as I do right now. At no other point in my life have I laid my head down at night without a clue as to what tomorrow might bring. At no other point in my life have I been scared shitless and optimistic all at the same time. Am I lost? Am I delusional? Probably sometimes If I’m being human. What I was going for is that I am becoming free. Becoming free doesn’t mean ‘freedom achieved.’ But every day that I wake up and ‘let go,’ even just a little, of the expectations I’ve created for myself, I am the freest I’ve ever been.
Becoming free is the release of the binds that held me so firmly together since I was a child. It’s the ability to straighten my arm as so, if I choose, or bend my leg here if that feels good. It’s a life without limits created by other people’s expectations of me. I’m a child whose father has let go of her hand for the first time and I have no idea what to do or where to go. I am tasting this freedom, and I’m not quite sure what I think of it.
Coming out about my own unhappiness in a life that looked, from the outside, like something from a movie, well it sucked. It hurt, to be honest in that deep, personal way. And it hurt me, to hurt others. But as the adult who was free to make adult choices and who was born into a world as a whole person, I neither felt free nor whole. I knew I had to change. I knew I had to hurt in order to learn, in order to grow, in order to be whole, in order to be free. But that journey is long and arduous, and I’m pretty sure it never ends.
People come into our lives to teach us things. But have you ever thought about the lessons you’ve taught others? Think about that. Think about all the people whose lives you’ve changed and you don’t even know it.
In life, we use each other. We exchange pleasantries the way we exchange lessons. Pretend you’re giving a best man or maid of honor speech to each person in your life, what would you say they’ve taught you? And what do you think they’d say you’ve taught them?
My personal decision to come out of my own confines of freedom, stand up and simply say, “something has to change,” has affected people around me, near and far. Our actions are always going to affect people, that’s what their supposed to do, that’s life. If we hurt someone, it’s our job to acknowledge the pain we caused, find the lesson, apologize and move forward. If we are the ones being hurt, it is our job to acknowledge the pain we feel, love ourselves, find the lesson and move forward. It is our job to live with intention.
We don’t have to run from the pain, which ends up leading us backwards anyway. Pain doesn’t have to stunt our progression. My truth isn’t false because it hurt others. No, my truth is just that, and the pain it caused is a lesson to be learned by all. There is no blame to hand out. There is no guilt to be carried. And there is no shame to be lived in. It’s life. It’s growth. It’s exactly what we are here to do. And it’s hard. But it is worth it.
Life is one big fucking lesson, and the ironic thing is, most of us thought we left school a long time ago. So for all of us adults who are free and whole and ha(miserable)ppy and coping and numbing ‘just fine thank you very much,’ thinking we aren’t being schooled every damn day by Life itself, the joke’s on us!