The Freedom To Become
Immediately after finishing my dissertation, I took a writing hiatus. As someone who wrote every single day for the past decade and a half, it was a tall order. I did it because I’m scribing my research, writing had become transactional. It was something I had to do versus something that felt therapeutic. My hiatus was supposed to only last six months, but I haven’t written with any sort of regularity since then.
In its place, writing was substituted with other mediums of artistic expression. I began to sketch. I began to paint. I returned to my love of photography and specifically photo editing. What I did not realize then, that I can see clearly now, is that I was learning how to sing in a different key.
I silently put pressure on myself to return to writing. I made writing challenges that fell by the wasteside. I set alarms to wake up and post on my blog. I even contemplated going back to blogging leaving my fully realized website to collect dust. As you can see I didn’t, but you’ll never guess the thing that changed my mind...
I did an interview last week—I was a participant in doctoral research and during the interview I was asked what I wanted to be when I was a child fantasizing about adulthood? I responded honestly, “I didn’t want to be any one thing. I just had a lot of really cool things I wanted to do. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to be was myself.” I spoke the words but they shocked me as hey escaped from my lips. Were they true?
I spent few days thinking about all the “really cool” things I wanted to experience. But then something unexpected happened. My day-dream became less about what I was doing and more about who was doing it with me. Who my support system was. Who my first phone call or panicked place of safety was.
I remembered one of my favorite life experiences with the survivalists. They told me that when you’re planning for the unexpected the only thing you can do is make sure you have people around you that you love and trust.
I was ready to go full-throttle with my plan to do podcasting. And coaching. And public speaking. And eventually write a book. And a film. And a stage play. And open my apothecary. And my birthing center. I was ready, also, to start thinking about the people I wanted around me to support me through that process. I could see them clearly because I could finally see myself clearly. I wasn’t just a writer. Yes, I’m extremely proficient at writing and I know I do it well. But my gift isn’t just in written word. Once I saw me, fully, it was easy to realize who I needed and wanted by my side.
I listened to Jane Fonda talk to Ellen the other day and she explained that with age comes less of an investment in outcomes. You realize you can survive any consequence and suddenly the worst doesn’t seem quite so scary. Even though I’m only 34, I feel that sense of peace. That sense of freedom that no matter what comes my way, I can endure it and I can come out on the other side having been made better. Still whole and still me.
Once that was clear to me, the rest felt easy. My big contemplation about my job felt less stressful. I even told the man I love that I love him, and it genuinely was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Why? Because I had embraced the freedom of being 100% me. Whatever that meant in the moment. I stopped worrying so much about what would happen if... or how people would see me if...
I stopped second guessing my feelings. I told myself the truth about myself—as I could see it from right now. And that allowed me to face other truths about the world.
To me, God is just waiting for us to show up. To see ourselves as we were created to be. Nothing delights God more than us living fully, at least in my opinion. So I promised myself that I would do just that. Be me. Become me. And I would do so with grace and gratitude. Without fear that the wrong decision would change who I am or make me less me. No...I am that I am. And I know what it means to say that now. It isn’t bound by an occupation or even a relationship. It means that I am everything that I am. The good the bad the doubtful and the sure. I am all of it and when you accept all parts of yourself AS yourself, the world can’t use it against you. Doubt runs away. Fear is ebbed at the shore. And all that’s left is love.