"It has been one of the greatest and most difficult years of my life. I learned that everything is temporary; moments, feelings, people, flowers. I learned that love is about giving. Everything. And letting it hurt. I learned that vulnerability is always the right choice because it is easy to be cold in a world that makes it so very difficult to remain soft. I learned that all things come in twos; life and death, pain and joy, salt and sugar, me and you; it is the balance of the universe.
It has been the year of hurting so bad but living so good; making friends out of strangers, making strangers out of friends. Learning that mint chocolate ice-cream will fix just about everything. And for the pains it can’t, there is always my mother’s arms. We must learn to focus on warm energy, always, soak our limbs in it and become better lovers to the world, for if we can’t learn to be kinder to each other, how will we ever learn to be kinder to the most desperate parts of ourselves?" – Rupi Kapur
Entering into a new decade this year has been one of the greatest and most difficult times of my life -- overflowing with euphoric travel experiences and enriching relationships, paired with heart ache and unsettled feelings. It’s been a season of digging deep into my soul to discover new important parts of me. There have been the nights of never-ending dance parties and tear-streaming laughter. There have been the disconcerting nights, sorting through the darkness in the world as of late and battling my brain with what this decade needs to look like. Turning a liberating 30, was like a weight had lifted on my heart, and simultaneously was backed with a heaviness. A heaviness not only for me, but also in the heart’s of those I love and from what’s been going on all around us.
We are in this age of constant connection, yet so disconnected all at once. In conversations with friends of all ages -- single, dating, married -- I’ve heard this recurring trend of not feeling enough. Enough because they are not where they thought they would be in life -- enough for not being married yet, haven’t made it to the job they thought they would, haven’t done enough to help others, or they aren’t the parent or spouse they thought they would be. I have felt it for myself too. We all fall victim to the slippery slope of the social media bubble. With comparisons that aren’t based in reality, we start striving for something that is unattainable. We find ourselves waiting for someone or something to arrive, to fix that sly longing inside.
After leaving a job, company and truly a life a few years back, I turned to travel for healing. It was what I needed during that time. Then it was work and planning -- anything to keep the hustle going, myself busy, and to be honest, numb parts of me I wasn’t ready to face. I didn’t quite realize I was using that for my coping.
When work and my 30th celebrations died down, I felt this nervous energy stirring inside of me. I questioned myself -- Is this what I should be doing? Why don’t I feel fulfilled? It’s easy to blame a job, a city, or circumstance for being what’s wrong with how you’re feeling. I craved a major change. I sold all of my things, altered career courses and moved across the world. Surely, a new city would fill me up in all the ways I needed too. Off to Sydney I went.
Turns out, that was slightly incorrect. Glennon Doyle says it so well, “Wherever you go, there you are. Your emptiness goes with you. Maddening. Things that help: writing, reading, water, walks, forgiving myself every other minute, practicing easy yoga, taking deep breaths, and petting my dogs. These things don't fill me completely, but they remind me that it is not my job to fill myself. It's just my job to notice my emptiness and find graceful ways to live as a broken, unfilled human.”
I had layers to peel through upon arrival here. Layers I hadn’t known were there. We can fill what we are trying to ignore with work, relationships, travel, moving, but eventually they will resurface. The longer you wait, the more powerful those layers will present themselves. It’s funny how that works.
The busy non-stop life I had thrown myself over the last few years finally came to a halt. Life moves slower on the beaches in Sydney. Working hours are shorter. I began to have more time to enjoy nature, be on my own, and with those I care for. Stillness came to me in immense waves, and so did the thoughts.
My brave self was humbled quickly as I felt loneliness creeping in upon arrival, yet it felt , necessary. When I began to mentally quiet myself down, the layers, and their emotional weight, came out roaring. At first these emotions shocked me -- there was anger and self-loathing. Why had I blocked myself from receiving love, giving love, being more present, and enjoying life more fully? There was a lot to unpack. It was finally time.
The journey here in Australia has been one of self-love and forgiveness. It has been one of being more gentle and graceful to this one mind and body that I get to love throughout my life. It has been one of more compassion, of being so okay and grateful for where I am at, even if it looks different than what I thought it would be -- even if I have no idea where it’s going too next. Truthfully, who really does?
I know we all have feelings of wanting things to be different, of wishing we had attained a place, status or relationship already, or of comparing our journeys socially. Most of this drama we suffer in our minds though, is the result of a belief of lies, mainly about ourselves. My friend Amanda said to me before I left, “Everything you are looking for – it’s already inside of you.” Granted the unhurried days here, have given me time to hit the reset button to tune into these thoughts, the tools were already there. They are in you too. It’s just up to us to be able to sit with the lies and emptiness, understand, and forgive. Only then can we move forward in profoundly healing ways. We can have a deeper kindness for what others are going through, and ourselves. We can listen and love one another better – people of all backgrounds and beliefs, of people who have wronged us. Everyone’s actions and words are a reflection of their journey. It’s my daily reminder to not to take anything personally. This world could use a lot more goodness in it. It starts with us.
The wholeness I feel now is wholeness from within, that not any other can fulfill. I have my feelings of pure joy back, of excitement, of an appetite and of a softness with myself and where I’m at. I’ve been able to let go of comparison and judgment of others, but especially of me. This is the greatest gift I have been able to give myself.
Don Miguel Ruiz words speak the truth. “Our life is short. Whenever I can, I enjoy my loved ones, my family, my friends. But mainly I enjoy myself because I am with myself all the time. Why should I spend my precious time with myself judging myself, rejecting myself, creating guilt and shame? Why should I push myself to be angry or jealous? If I don’t feel good emotionally, I find out what is causing it and I fix it. I get back to my happiness and keep creating my story.”
Today I sit at a coffee shop by the beach without any shoes and without an idea of what to come when my contract is up here, but I’m creating my story. Some days I feel a bit lost, and I am alright with it. We all feel that. I’m not sure what the future holds with relationships or where I will be planting roots. I know right now I feel whole, I feel grateful for lightness inside me, for peace in my mind, for quiet bursts of loneliness, for what nature has shown me, what signs I am more aware of when I slow down. I feel hopeful to recognize false stories of the past, and of the future, that do not serve me – for being able to release those entirely. I hope today you can find more gentleness for yourself, for all that you’ve accomplished and all the ways you have loved well. You are on your own timelines, not societies, so please don’t feel like you need to rush to figure it all out.
Suburbs, family, settled, wife – if you asked me when I was 15, where I would be at after turning 30, I would’ve said all of the above. Where I’m at now? Dating, traveling, adventuring, living in Sydney and soaking in every new wave of life. This is my life-giving 30. The waves can be confusing, thrilling, heart-aching and an absolute blast. With each wave comes a new lesson, a new direction, and a deeper understanding of myself and where I am meant to be. Our journeys are made specifically for us. No waves are the same, and neither are your life plans -- that’s what makes them so uniquely beautiful. I will keep getting back out there. I hope you do the same. The ride is simply, the best part.