I recently posted a photo on Instagram with a “deep” and somewhat recurring theme for me, something I alluded to in my previous post. The words are ones I have been mulling on for years, but just when I start to lean into these words I get up and run. Typically around the three month mark of being in my hometown, my restless soul is rearing up for another adventure, another escape, another opportunity to outrun my emotions.
But this time I am still – immobile in the grand scheme of things.
I realize the reason this theme is so constant for me is because it’s taken me nearly a decade to work through a myriad of life events. I start to dive deep, write a blog post about my feelings, and then I flee before the real work is done. If you’ve been around this space of the internet for a while, you’ll know I’ve shared similar struggles for what feels like lightyears, and I often feel like I am prattling with these posts, but what I wrote on Instagram encompasses what I’ve needed to do for quite some time…
“Coming back to my hometown is always hard for me. There are emotions and experiences stuck in time here, and when I move away a small part of me is trying to escape them.
I came back this time because I knew I needed to sit with these feelings, to grieve lost friendships and relationships, to allow myself to fall on my face without the nagging judgmental voice of my ego, and to figure out what I need in order to heal and move forward.
All of these things are possible anywhere in the world, but I find when I’m off on adventures my focus is elsewhere. So here, in this town I can’t help but feel stagnant and stuck in, I find myself face to face with the same emotions I’m always trying to outrun.
Call it growth, call it adulting, or simply call it burn out…but I’ve been allowing myself to feel so many things since moving back. It’s not easy, it’s certainly not fun, and there are plenty of times I want to jump in my car and drive far away, but I stay. I stay in these feelings because deep in my heart I know the only way out is through.”
Despite my broken record like posts the last few years, something is different this time. This time I am not running away. I am doing “the work” no matter how uncomfortable it might be. I’ve officially reached the point of no return, and I cannot take this cycle anymore. It’s time to move forward. So I have been spending time with myself in isolation, while also challenging myself to be more social. I struggle with meeting new people, but I know these struggles stem from deep rooted fears most of us experience from childhood.
I am not great at small talk, the superficial conversations make me uncomfortable and anxious.
However, I know without these awkward initial engagements with other humans it’s nearly impossible to make friends. So often I dismiss a relationship before it even begins because I hold out for those rare people I click with immediately. I crave long, deep, vulnerable conversations with people who listen and who share parts of their brokenness few others have seen. I’ve only had a few of those people cross my path within the last decade, and as much as I wish all friendships could start this way I do believe some friendships flourish after time.
Unless you’re an animal. I will forever be the introvert in the corner with the animals.
One of the reasons I chose my current job was because I knew it would be a place of comity, filled with people who like to hike, explore, bike, and whatever else we can get into outside. Despite the common interests in activities like hiking, I still feel anxious when committing to spending time with my coworkers outside of work. Typically when I decide to push myself out of my comfort zone I move across the country…or the world…but right now I am pushing myself to be more social close to home.
Meeting new people is a crucial part of my healing journey, and it will be impossible for me to rewrite the narratives I have about myself without putting myself out there.
I recently went on two hikes with two separate groups of people from work, and both excursions were good not only for my mind and my body, but also for my soul. The first hike I embarked on was one I have done many times before. In fact this used to be one of my favorite solo hikes, making it somewhat ironic I decided to hike this with three other people. While I am not usually a fan of larger groups, having more than one “new” person makes it a bit less overwhelming for me.
I am very picky with my friends, but once I feel comfortable with someone I am an open book. Truthfully I can be an open book right off the bat, if only someone shows a genuine interest. For so much of my life I have been around people who don’t show interest in what I have to say, or they listen just to reply. This has conditioned me to keep to myself, but it has also allowed me to appreciate those special souls I meet who want to hear what I have to say.
This aversion to other humans is something I have struggled with since the endless gaslighting of a previous relationship, causing me to question everything about myself.
This old hike with new friends was a nice push for me to get outside and start breaking open my shell of introversion. The only way to become more comfortable with discomfort is to continue pushing through. Four days later, I agreed to another hike with three guys I work with. This adventure ended up being a full day – 12 miles through mud, snow, flooded trail sections, many downed trees, and it was a blast.
I tend to get along with people of all ages, but I don’t have many friends my own age. I attribute this to the fact I continue to flounder in life while most people my age have “careers.” What I love about my job is the employees range from 18 all the way to late 60’s/70’s. The first group I hiked with I was the youngest, the second I was the oldest, and yet both times were enjoyable for different reasons.
My soul tends to connect with fellow old souls, and I have discovered physical age has nothing to do with the age of our souls.
As I continue to grow and push myself towards personal melioration I find comfort in the discomfort. Each time my throat tightens up before a night filled with tears, when my chest aches at the thought of a lost love, or when I let go of the obsessive control over my body and what I eat, I feel oddly comforted. I know in these times of pain there is a future of flourishing.
How joyful we could be as humans if we only took the time to work through our brokenness.
I’m writing this post to say I am in a place of comfortable discomfort. I don’t know if that makes sense, but despite the underlying anxiety I feel most days, I know I am where I’m meant to be at this moment in time. I am enjoying meeting new people, destroying the false narratives in my mind, and finally allowing moments of the past and present to work their way through my mind. It’s amazing what we can discover if we only take a moment to put away the distractions of life and press the pause button.
So here’s to pushing through. Through the discomfort, through the sadness, through the joy, through the laughter, and through the pain. Being human is one wild ride, but what a blessing it is to have the freedom to explore who we are, and what we need. One step, one day, one minute at a time.
Q: How are you taking time for yourself lately?