Recently, I was faced with quite a wake-up call. The end of a relationship that mattered a great deal to me brought to my attention some inaccuracies I had been portraying regarding the person I am, though not intentionally. I had been making some statements for so long, they had become tenets of my being. My best example is how for years I had been saying that I hate winter. Since it, like all the rest, had never been questioned, it never occurred to me to stop and ask if it was even still (or ever) true.
In reevaluating some of these, I realized that some of them really weren’t true, including my statement about winter, and that I had been misrepresenting myself on accident for quite a long time. Self-improvement and awareness has always been important in my life, so this was quite the blow for me. I was extremely disappointed in myself and felt that I had allowed my ignorance to ruin something special and beautiful, but I remembered that there is a reason for everything and that things always work out. (And yes, I realize this isn’t why we broke up. Refer to The Dumpee’s Guide for more on that.) Maybe the reason for this is to make sure that it never happens again allowing me to move confidently into a new relationship with the knowledge that I have done the necessary work and am presenting the most authentic version of myself. This had to happen. I needed someone or something to make me ask the hard questions and face some harsh truths. I have spent the time since bringing up all the “facts” and statements I make about myself, questioning each one. I’m still working on answers, and some I won’t have until I try some things, but it’s worth the time and effort. I don’t want just a “yes or no, is this true?” I want to know how it became a statement in my life in the first place and I want a reason for why it is or is not true now. There is no- “it just is.” I want to go deeper.
What I learned about my winter statement was interesting. When I sat back and thought about my relationship with winter, I remembered days of building snowmen and snow forts-playing for as long as possible with garbage bags wrapped around my hands and feet if I had to- going skiing, sledding, ice skating, jumping off the roof into piles of snow, snowball fights, looking out the window at the beauty that can only be found in a snow-covered landscape, and how invigorating it always is to take in that deep breath of cold, crisp, snowy air. I used to love winter. We were great friends. It has never been my favorite season, mind you, but I definitely didn’t hate it. I was a full-blown participant in it and found so much joy in those days. Winter always had a home and special place in my world. So I had to ask myself when that changed, and when saying “I don’t participate in winter” or “I hate winter” became an automatic response to winter-related discussions. It took some time to figure this out, but as it turns out, it happened when I first moved across the country on my own.
In all irony, I moved to the land of snow- upstate New York- so I should have found myself in activity heaven, but instead I found myself isolated. One problem was that I was in a new place and didn’t really know anyone and those I did know didn’t participate in a lot of winter activities. The other problem was that I was at an age where everyone just wanted to go downhill skiing or snowboarding- expensive activities- and I just couldn’t afford it. Finances have always been a prideful thing for me so it was embarrassing to admit that I couldn’t afford to go, and it was easy for me to become resentful of something I couldn’t afford to indulge in. As time went on, I did less and less through winter, mad that I couldn’t afford it, depressed, and feeling lonely. Instead of recognizing the real problem- inactivity for a person who needs to stay active- I blamed winter. I blamed winter over and over again until it became part of me and my belief system. It took this happening to remind me that I’m not that person anymore. I have a lot more opportunities available to me. I know more people who engage in a much broader set of activities who will teach me and include me. To continue making that statement at this point in my life is absurd, so every day I am grateful that I was challenged. This call to question has given me a chance to repair my relationship with winter, to be “friends on” again, and make my life better. There are so many adventures to be had now that I would have missed out on if I had allowed my old way of thinking to continue. What a shame that would have been.
I was hesitant to publish a post until I had an adventure to speak of, but I realized that the initial questioning has been an adventure in itself. It is an exploration and a learning experience that never stops and those are my kind of adventures- those that perpetuate continual growth. I have always been the kind of person that is up to try anything, but because of this specific awakening, I made a commitment to myself to say “yes” to anything I was given the opportunity to try. The commitment alone stirred an excitement in me that I hadn’t felt for quite some time and I can’t wait to experience all of the things that come my way. In fact, starting this blog came out of that. I had started talking about doing this around six years ago, but never started. I made excuses like “everyone has a blog now, what’s the point?” The truth was that I was afraid- afraid people wouldn’t like what I had to say, afraid of never being seen. So I changed the way I talk to myself. Instead of saying “but what if?” I say “so what?” “what’s the worst that can happen?” and “what have I got to lose?” Needless to say, this will be an ongoing series as I document those adventures. Something good comes out of everything, even heart break. “No one likes having their heart broken, but the crack is where the light gets in.” My light has just begun to shine and adventures await.