I have fallen victim to myself.
This journey that I have decided to undertake- saying “yes” to life– has turned out to be a constant discovery of all the ways in which I sabotage myself on a regular basis. And maybe not even sabotage, but the ways I stifle myself and keep joy out of reach. So I’ll tell you a story. As some of you may remember, my girls’ trip to Chicago had me questioning what it was about the city that I loved so much. Part of me has missed living in the city and it took being back there to figure out why. It isn’t the city; it’s the anonymity- the ability to fade into the background. Having moved back to the town where I went to high school, this is something that I desperately miss. When I lived in the city, I would take myself to breakfast, treat myself to dinner, sit in a café and read, do whatever knowing that I would be left to myself to just enjoy my time. I can’t do that here and I realize what I’m struggling with is that I feel suffocated. When I go to breakfast or sit in a café or just go to the park- it is inevitable that I will see someone I know who wants to chat or use me as a gossiping point with someone else, but outside of that, people I don’t know will start getting up in my business asking me questions like “what’s wrong?” (because apparently if you’re sitting alone you must be going through some kind of crisis), or (insert creepy older gentleman voice here) “what’s such a pretty thing like you doing alone?” or whatever other ridiculous question they come up with. My favorite is when I’ve just gone for a walk and I get a message from someone telling me they saw me. Seriously? So what?! Leave me alone! What’s worse is that because of the way this town is, in all of those situations I have to remain diplomatic and kind. Everyone knows everyone and if I were to tell the creepy older gentleman to leave me alone, next thing you know I’m out of a job or will never get another one in this town. Sounds absurd and extreme right? Well, that’s just the way it works. It’s a reality that many people here don’t see or understand because they’ve never been away from it.
I’ve always lived by the words of the Dalai Lama, “be kind whenever possible. It is always possible,” but I’ll tell you that sometimes people around here really try to push the limits, and you are never allowed to live down a bad moment. Sometimes I just don’t want to be kind anymore. So I don’t take myself to breakfast, or sit in a café and read. I quit going to the park to walk, or going for runs outside. I just didn’t want to deal with anyone. And the truth is, this isn’t their fault. It’s mine. I have always been an extremely independent person and I’m sure that people who know me are probably surprised by this post as it would seem completely out of character for me to be like this. It happened slowly, but I did allow this to happen over time and now that I recognize it, I’ve decided that it is no longer acceptable. And that’s more like the girl I know.
I’ve been doing all this work: meditating, taking my health back through my nutrition, exercising regularly, getting out in nature more no matter the time of year because it feeds my soul… and yet, these other things that make me happy I’ve neglected because of other people. Shame on me. This is my journey, my life- it’s time I own that completely. So last weekend I popped in my headphones, walked out my door, and just kept on walking. I focused on the way breathing in the fresh air felt, the way the sky looked, and the sound of my feet hitting the pavement while I ran. I drew the attention of a lot of nosey people, but I ignored them all and reminded myself that I was doing something great for my physical and mental health and that overrode everything else. When I got back I stayed outside and just enjoyed being there. It may not sound like a big deal to some that I just went for a run outside in my town, but it was a big deal to me. More importantly, it was a stepping stone. It was one small gesture that I did for myself and only with myself in mind because I knew it would feel good to me. That’s a huge deal. I will continue to seek the things that bring me joy and embrace them. The people that feel they have something to say can suck it. Who are they to me anyway? Nobody. I’m done with them. And with that said, for those of you that are concerned, don’t worry- my days in this place are numbered. I do have plans to escape and get back to a place that feels good to me. I have made the best of my time here and done what I could to make it bearable, but regardless of what some people think- where you are does matter. There are places that just suck the life out of you- this is mine. I’m doing what I have to do for me. I encourage all of you to do the same. Seek your own sources of joy and pursue them, even if only for a moment, and for no other reason than because it feels good to you. Treat yourself. You deserve it.