A friend recently introduced me to this band called Balance & Composure. The more I listen to them the more I find myself relating to not only their lyrics, but the feel of their music. Their name resonates with their sound so perfectly and got me thinking. Our lives really are comprised of balance and composure. Balancing our priorities, our relationships and our emotions all while trying our best to keep our composure. Maybe I’m reading into them all wrong, but it’s a thought worth exploring so I’m gonna go with it.
Recently, I lost my balance. I’ve been way too focused on people’s perceptions, and less focused on my own. I tend to go through this cycle where I play the tough girl who can handle almost anything that gets thrown her way and end up reverting back to the one needing affirmation that her worth is still present. I hate this cycle, but the problem is I don’t quite know how to reverse it. I’m in this habitual pattern and like a zombie in a trance I consistently fall back into the same routine.
Our past truly shapes our habits and patterns, but I’m done blaming my psycho ex boyfriend and my slightly dysfunctional teen years for each present moment that I allow to slip me by. I’ve been told several times that I rush healing when trauma happens, but what I hate about the healing process is that there is no manual. Every person deals with loss, pain and repair differently. Why does it have to dictate every single moment of my current journey? Why do I habitually crave others to validate my worth?
I know in my heart that I am more than a number, more than a bunch of molecules and atoms (and all that other scientific jargon) compiled together to create a life. I am a human being with a functional moral compass, who knows the difference between pure joy and ruthless heartache and lived to tell the tale. I’m done with fake people who want fake conversations. I’m done putting on a facade so people will feel comfortable around me.
Hell, one of the reasons I moved five states away from my hometown was so that I wouldn’t be gawked at by ignorant people who had no idea what really happened in my story, but loved to gossip about it. I’m tired of running from who I am and what I’ve been through. I talk about it like a war story, and at times it could be deemed as such. I allowed people to tell me to just get over it, and felt the sting of the words it’s not that big of a deal. I refuse to accept that anymore. I’m healing at my own pace, but that does not mean that it has to define me.
I talked to a friend from my high school HOBY seminar tonight. Short tangent: HOBY is this wicked leadership event (bring out my nerd crown) that literally changed my life forever. It showed me that people were capable of compassion, and were loving enough to care about others more than themselves. They had dreams to change the world, and they actually are! Right this second, my facilitator from the World Leadership Congress is building schools for children in Africa. He’s lived in Malawi since I met him, when I was a sophomore in high school. He’s changing lives. He’s giving back. He’s making this world a better place.
Anyway, my conversation with this HOBY friend… We were talking about finding our adventure. I told him that I needed something to live for, that I felt like my purpose was missing. I get up and I go to work and I come home… and watch Netflix. What kind of life is that? How do I change this meaningless – punch the clock, get paid, repeat – cycle? Well, he pointed out the obvious and told me to find a hobby. That may have been an acceptable answer when I wasn’t running from my own thoughts on a daily basis, and still in a town where I knew exactly how to get involved.
Internet searches for community service and local organizations doesn’t do much good unless you’re looking to walk into this death trap:
So I decided to make a list of things I want to accomplish in the next five years. And if I don’t accomplish at least half of them, I need someone to promise to physically hunt me down and shake some sense into me. We only get one life. Might as well spend it living, not just dreaming about it.
1) Spend time at a nursing home, getting to know people and writing about their stories
2) Adopt a puppy, preferably a beagle, and name her Dixie
3) Quit working at places that I don’t find purpose in and pursue a career that helps people
4) Go to Graduate School and stop finding excuses not to just do it
5) Write my story down. All of it. No bullshit, no skimming the ugliness. Just write it.
6) Keep a journal of everything good that happens to me, everything that makes me smile.
7) Defy all odds to be exactly who I am, and stop giving a damn what other people think about it, because in the end who has to live with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
8) Do at least one of the following things I’ve been talking about for years: Join the Peace Corps, Enlist in the Air Force or live abroad for at least a year
9) Ok, maybe I need to pick two in #8. Designated accountability buddy, you have every right to count #8 with extra weight.
10) And I skipped #9. See what I just did there? #10 now needs two goals.
a) date someone worthwhile, and not some skeez that I typically attract
b) teach a class on gender, sexuality and femininity… the world could use an education on what it means to live in a socialized environment and how it affects our perceptions
11) Participate in a SlutWalk or Take Back the Night to spread light on the rape culture that society has so blindly accepted
12) Learn to play guitar so I can serenade myself to sleep at night
13) Put music to my own lyrics that have been sitting in my music journal for years
14) Learn how to sail a boat, and spend more time on the water enjoying the beautiful sunshine
15) Get in shape, stay in shape and get healthy
16) Explore new religions, get a grasp of other cultures and dig deep to find my true north.
17) Develop relationships with people I wouldn’t normally become friends with. Everyone craves acceptance and love. Why deny someone the feeling of belonging if it doesn’t hurt anyone?
18) Find a way to forgive the people who hurt me in indescribable ways. I don’t need to get restitution for what’s already in the past, but I do need closure, and that can only happen when I allow myself to forgive and let go of the pain.
19) Learn to surf. This can be my motivation for getting in shape. I’ll need a strong core to take on those waves. Sheila, we’re going to Costa Rica baby! 🙂
20) Travel, travel, travel. What’s life if I just stay in one place? I need to spread my wings and fly a little. I see a road trip in my near future, Smith. Are you with me? Bring your tunes, dude. We need your impeccable taste in music.
I have to start doing more of what makes me… well, me. I’ve got to find a way to give back, and spread more love. I’ve figured out in the past few years that not many things give me a sense of peace, but writing is one thing that has always been my source of tranquility.
Starting this post my heart felt heavy. I’d been confused about my adventure and my HOBY friend insisted I find it. Although the void in the pit of stomach will continue to eat at me until I find my true north, I have placeholders in my adventures. They’ll be there waiting to give me purpose, to give me a source of hope for my world. And to help me give back to those who need it most.
Because in the end, what is life worth living without love?
And what is the point of living if you can’t help others along the way?