“I care,” I said. “I care about how they feel and what they think. I care a whole lot.”
“Okay, you care.” she said nodding her head slowly and calmly, acknowledging that she received the information I surged in her general direction. “It’s good to recognize that and own it.”
“Well where do I go from here?”
“You don’t. You just sit in it. This is the step for right now.”
“Well that doesn’t make me feel any better.”
She laughed. She loves to laugh. It took her a long while to love her laugh. It’s hearty and heart felt. It’s infectious and feel-good. It’s insanely honest and will tell you, straight from the hip, how it came into existence. She shares it like a language — one that she is fluent in.
She knew I was looking for an answer – something to pacify my worry and self-doubt. Something to hold onto — tight, like you would a bungee jumping partner as you free fall; but not this time. I was solidly free falling solo with my hands grasping at the air for something — anything, to hold for comfort. And my best friend was allowing it.
It didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel hopeful. It didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere or ever would with no action steps going forward from where the conversation started.
“Just sit in it” translates in my ears most times as a fast road to sadness and to inaction and inertia.
Why though? Why the extreme negative?
For some reason I just find it scary – sitting in wherever I find myself to be, not receiving any actionable feedback. Figuring things out on my own sort of terrifies me. It’s not that I am alone, but it can feel that way in these moments. No matter what is said, I have to make a choice going forward and no one else can make it for me.
While there is an obvious beauty in finding what I really believe to be true, trepidation tends to rise to the surface quicker these days and I find myself wrestling with this simple question – what if I’m wrong?
I’ve come to discover that decision-making is what life is all about. I’ve grown up close to people who have had a very difficult time with this particular process. I firsthand witnessed individuals I love literally struggle to make a verdict on everything from material effects to personal relationships. Not knowing what to say goodbye to and what was healthy to keep.
I catch myself falling into learned behaviors like these sometimes. Even as I type this out, I am reminded of how I just spoke to a friend of mine regarding how hard it is for me to say goodbye or to end conversations with people. If it were up to me, most times, I would never do it.
I Love conversing – with a capital L. It is practically my oxygen flow.
I never want a good conversation to end – and in the same vein, I never want to have to say goodbye to great moments that I don’t know if I’ll ever experience again.
But in the end, I do. I end conversations even if I’m uncomfortable or awkwardly doing so. I say goodbye to things even if it’s a challenge in the moment. And, for the record, while it varies in degrees, it remains a challenge every single time.
Perhaps that’s all each decision ever is when it comes down to it. Trust.
The key for me has been staying grateful for the experience had and hopeful for the experiences to come. It’s enjoying the moment and trusting in the future. Perhaps that’s all each decision ever is when it comes down to it. Trust.
Life is full of choices. I think what we all need to work on making more well known is the simple truth that most of our decisions in life will fall into grey-areas – where the choices we make are both good and bad.
Life isn’t always so definitively right or wrong – in fact, it’s hardly ever so stark.
I know, trust me, I wish it were. I want there to be some sort of checklist going forward. One that I could find peace in intuitively knowing what is always “correct” and tick the boxes of the steps I am meant to take to progress from where I began.
As much as I wish for that, I also am thankful life doesn’t work that way. I think if it did we would never really come to know who we truly are because our decisions would forever be pre-made for us. I think we would rely heavily on always “getting it right” and less about embracing individual growth through mistakes made.
I’ll shoot it straight with you – I cannot stand making mistakes.
I literally cringe at the thought of letting someone down and if I slip-up, even in a small way, I typically will not let myself off the hook for quite some time.
My friend put it well the other day; she said we all need a personal trainer/motivator in our lives. Some need the ones who will get in your face and yell you into better outcomes. Some need positive encouragement and feedback each step of the way. She reminded me how well she knew me by saying that both her and I need the latter and would utterly breakdown in tears if subjected to the former. She then posed the question, “If we know that is true, why are we allowing the voices that motivate us internally to act like drill sergeants?”
“You’re not good enough.”
“It’s all your fault.”
“You messed up again – what made you think this time would be any different?”
“You’re not worth it.”
It’s not even about letting anyone down at a point; it’s about being my own worst enemy.
Her analogy made me realize that I need to make choices internally as well as externally. To know myself well enough to make a decision to recognize the type of encouragement and motivation I need for personal betterment.
I need to be kinder to myself.
I do also believe the pressure of always making the “right” decision ends up encouraging us all to people please. Like I said, I cringe at the thought of letting someone I care about down. This is something I’ve struggled with persistently. I find myself, these days, challenging my old people pleasing default through my faith. Which, to be honest, mostly looks like vast, unknown territory, but a pretty epic excursion in itself.
My faith journey has been a highly personal one for me – one that I’ve always been a little nervous to share too much about. I kept thinking it was more respectful to leave out that part of my life, but I’m starting to realize it’s more just a deficit of confidence in myself.
I guess, like with anything, I am always afraid that sharing such a personal decision will automatically put me in a box and allow for others to prejudge me without getting to know the heart behind the choices I’ve made for myself. I also truly never want to make anyone uncomfortable or feel disrespected.
The truth of the matter is, it all comes down to intention.
If I take a moment and honestly evaluate the intent behind my decisions, I wouldn’t doubt myself for a second and therefore, wouldn’t be as concerned about the possible perception of others. I want to love people well and allow them to feel heard and respected.
Ultimately I cannot control the reactions that others have to the decision I choose to make. I can only stay true to my good-hearted intentions and come back to that foundation with every choice I decide on my own.
I want to love people, not find my value in them.
I want to love people, not find my value in them. I want to find peace in the lack of a checklist going forward and embrace the idea that I may not always get it right. I want to breathe easier knowing my intentions are always to strive to be noble even though I may make decisions that could naturally bring out both good and bad. I want to let go of any ounce of me that longs for something to hold onto to feel safe – my false grasp of control.
Sitting in it. That’s where I was – still free falling.
My face was staring at the ground – what looked like mere inches away in comparison from the distance at which I had started. The metaphorically cord stretched to its furthest limit and to my whole body’s surprise, it didn’t break. I didn’t break. Instead, I was launched back upward.
“We are walking on the same path, side by side,” she came back and said. “And tonight, with this one thing, I just happened to have my foot in the air a split second before yours. I see what’s on the other side of this for you and I’m so excited for you to get there.”