If I've learned anything about life, it's that I don't have it figured out.
I was recently chatting with a family friend who reminded me of this. He said, concerned, "...you were doing so great. You had this well-deserved athletic scholarship in college, you graduated with honors, you were part of an incredible non-profit. And then you traveled and had your fun, but now I'm worried that you're not living up to..." I think I subconsciously tuned him out, uninterested in what he would say next. I went temporarily deaf because his apprehension hurt something deep down. He was staring all of my own fears in the face and giving them validation.
I was disheartened. And also dumbfounded, because I thought I was doing... okay. Well, okay enough to deliver the facade that I'm succeeding at being an adult.
Do you remember as a kid feeling overwhelmingly carefree? I've been pondering and trying to encapsulate that state. I think as children we allowed ourselves to be weightless because our parents did a really good job of protecting us from the heaviness of the world. They subtly took all of the responsibility, and gently convinced us that everything was okay, that they had everything figured out. The more I get to know my mom as a friend, the less I'm convinced they did. Which is comforting in a way.
I'll admit, I do know more about life than I let on:
1. Success cannot be defined by anyone but yourself. When I think back to who I was in college, I was fueled by accomplishments. Running new personal records, making the deans list, receiving compliments from professors - most things that equated to what I could achieve. But really, I was just going through the motions. I would argue now, despite not having a job in my related field of study, that I am more "successful" based on what I believe in, the things I am passionate about - like loving others and myself better, advocating social equity and environmental preservation, practicing health and wellness and sharing those practices with my peers. Success is a state of mind, not a pre-defined bench mark.
2. Plans change. And being the most adaptable creatures on the planet, we change with them. Not all roads are straight and paved, but that's how we grow. And most of the time, the roads that are straight and paved are less fun anyways.
3. Our community of friends and family are meant to encourage and celebrate us, not bring us down. Their support certainly should not be conditional. On the same note, vulnerability is a sacred key in relationships. I always assumed other people didn't want to hear about what I was struggling with. Don't believe this lie! Being open with your emotions allows others to love you more accurately and beautifully.
4. Although money is a necessity, it should not be the deciding factor for any of life's qualms. I come from an extremely wealthy area of the world, and it breaks my heart to see bank accounts, status, and consumerism make slaves of people. Having money is not a bad thing, but with it comes the large responsibility to use it wisely and lovingly.
5. Loving yourself is the most worthwhile goal that has endless gifts. Practice self-love daily. And don't ever agree with anyone who says you aren't succeeding or living up to your potential. Only you can decide that, and the answer should always be no.
6. Life is hairy. I don't have it figured out... and that's okay.
Wow. That ended up being much longer than I was intending. I feel like I word-vomited all over your computer screen. Gross. Perhaps I was just needing an ear. So if you made it here, to the end of this epoch, thanks for listening. I love you.