I made a promise to myself recently that I would begin being more authentic, more honest with myself and others. Part of that is sharing vulnerability, something that’s not easy to do. You might think this is a weird place to go about it, but really its easier than face to face. There’s a disconnect here – I can’t see your face and weigh the reaction, and today’s post is really about disconnection.
I began reading Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist today. The tagline is ‘leaving behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of life’ That idea appealed to me immensely. I’ve been looking for ways to tap into something I’ve felt I’ve been missing for about three or four years now.
Back then I knew on the surface my life seemed to be going fairly well. I had a decent job, I was doing well at Crossfit and lifting, I had great friends and was living with my partner. And I was chronically unhappy. Not a crippling sadness or depression, just a constant numbing undercurrent of ”there’s gotta be more to it than this…surely?” which I ignored and covered up whenever it raised its head and tried to make me take notice. Who was I to be unhappy with my lot when it was more than a lot of people have? What did I really have to be unhappy about? I was just being silly and emotional and if I just pushed through, things would be better…..wouldn’t they?
But slowly I began to realise something had to change. I didn’t even know what it was that I felt was missing, just that it was. So, I began to look. I tried life coaching, I looked into mindfulness, I began to explore spirituality and read self-help books. Now I have a growing belief that this ephemeral, always on the periphery thing I’ve been searching for is connection, with myself. And I’m still learning.
I’m just 50 or so pages into Shauna’s book and already it’s brought me to tears twice (possibly more) because what she talks about is how I have felt many times in my adult life.
The first was on just the 17th page (of an e-reader) where Shauna quotes Richard Rohr (I should probably know who that is) who apparently says that the skills that take you through the first half of your life are entirely unhelpful in the second half. Ironic really, when I’m retraining in my 40’s. She then goes on to say that on inspection of those skills she realises they didn’t serve her at all…. and here’s where it got real for me, she says;
“They made me responsible and capable and really, really tired. They made me productive and practical, and inch by inch, year by year, they moved me further and further from the warm, whimsical person I used to be…..and I missed her”
Even typing that out threatens the tears will come. That is how I see where life has taken me.
I miss me.
In the testimonial letter my high school principal wrote about me in my final year he described my personality as ‘mercurial’. I didn’t even know what it meant and had to look it up. I wasn’t all that impressed to begin with. Often someone who is described as having a mercurial nature is considered volatile, capricious, temperamental, fickle. Gee, thanks. Yes, I do have some of those elements in me, but typical of the English language the word can have another context which I like to think is how he meant it, it can also mean clever, lively, quick… whimsical.
I haven’t felt those things for more than fleeting moments in longer than I like to think about. I want them back. I want to feel joy in who I am. I want to be grounded. That’s not to say I’m unhappy now. Choosing to study at this point in my life and beginning this blog and looking toward the future are all steps in the right direction. The undercurrent now shimmers with hope. I look forward to the rest of Present over Perfect and I hope it may add another string to my bow on my journey back to me.
P.S. I do so love words and when typing that I began to wonder does ‘another string to my bow’ mean what I think it to mean? Some light research and it would seem to be a phrase that translates to having something in reserve or more than one way to do a thing and possibly comes from archers carrying several strings to replace those that got damaged. I love finding out where these things come from. Bless the web!