Sunday, October 19, 2014

Peace in the Journey (On Being Humbled)

I've been wanting to write for a while, but I haven't because lately, I haven't felt very inspired.  I wrote a post a couple of months ago about being happy, and I'm embarrassed to admit that, once again, I'm not happy.

I keep struggling with the issue of happiness, and every time I write about it, I think that I have the answer, but I don't.  I always seem to think that the next step in my journey is bringing me closer to happiness.  This is something that we all struggle with, I think.  We have been taught that happiness is the destination.  And while I have even tried to instill in the young women I advised and mentored that "It's the journey, not the destination" that counts, I still struggle with the journey.  I still seek that destination.  And for me, that destination equates to happiness.

I thought that if I were in the right place and felt good about my job, I would be happy.  I thought that if men at the very least noticed me, I would be happy.  I thought that if the weather were warmer, I would be happy.  And while some of those things have happened, they still aren't enough. The job is not what I thought it would be, and again, I am learning that because someone is a supervisor or manager, it doesn't mean that person is a leader.  Men do a little more than notice me now, but they're not doing exactly what I want them to, in the way I want them to do it.  The weather is warmer, but the amount of time and energy it takes to get around in this area means more time is spent indoors or in a car than enjoying the weather.  In other words, this is a season in my life where everything is out of my control, and I don't like it.

Found on Facebook
For so long, I have been comfortable.  I was the go-to person at my job.  I knew how to get things done fairly quickly and effectively.  I had settled for an on-again, off-again relationship that gave me the feeling of being loved without the daily sacrifices that one usually makes in a committed relationship.  I arranged my life so that I had as little inconvenience as possible.  I basically made life as easy for myself as possible, challenging myself only to the point where I could pull back easily: take doctoral courses, they get too difficult to manage, take less classes or just take a leave of absence.  Have someone tell me he loves me, that gets too difficult, do or say something to push him away so that I don't have to invest emotional energy.  Move closer to work.  Be friendly, but withdraw or disappear often enough so no one
would actually rely on me for anything.  This comfort I created for myself protected me from being hurt and made me feel almost invincible.  I came off to many as confident, empowered, successful, and smart.

Finally, the facade broke, and I made a decision to jump off the cliff of comfort (I know, corny).  And here I am, in this new place with new people.  I am feeling my way around work, around new relationships, and around this new place that seems to provide everything I need but feels like a mountainous challenge to get to so that I could enjoy it.  I find myself retreating and withdrawing.  I find myself wondering who I really am and if I really am this lovable person that I always seemed to be for the last ten years or so.  I find myself humbled by my experiences - being low on the totem pole at work, my self-confidence misunderstood (and attacked) by some, not being ferociously pursued by a romantic interest.  Every day, it feels as if the person I have been for so long keeps falling away in pieces, leaving someone unrecognizable even to me.  I don't know who I am at the moment.  My support systems have been hiding places for me, and so I don't want to rely on them right now, because I understand that hiding is the same thing as being in control, creating a comfort zone, and remaining safe.

I am not there.  I have not made it.  I am living day by day, moment by moment, feeling intense discomfort and discontent.  I am not there, but I am here.  I know that this part of my journey is meant to take me somewhere I haven't been before.  Maybe I haven't been able to commit because I think I'm a failure at commitment.  Maybe I need to stop thinking that relentlessly intense pursuit is a sign of long-lasting interest.  Maybe it's the little things - small demonstrations of thoughtfulness rather than grandiose romantic gestures - that lead to getting to know someone genuinely and not the image of Prince Charming that has probably sabotaged all of my relationships.  Maybe work isn't the place for me to throw all of my energy into, because in reality, people are more important.  Maybe I need to stop seeing work as a place where I serve the institution or the person I work for, but just as a conduit to serve people in a way that aligns with my purpose.  In other words, I am not there to please those that hired me; I am there to turn on a light for the many people I encounter who cannot see how to achieve their goals.

I am here.  This is just another step in my journey, not my destination.  I am completely out of my comfort zone, feeling emotionally, mentally and spiritually naked.  In this nakedness, I must find peace.  And the peace in this journey, for me, is that this isn't my destination; this is a kind of "threshing floor," a place where negativity can be stripped from me so that I can be made more pure to go into the next step of my journey.

Humility comes as a result of the exposure of ego.  As the negative aspects of my ego are exposed (either through self-awareness or by the actions of others towards me), I am more humbled.  In that humility, I can learn.  As I learn, I am prepared to take the next step.  It's time to let go of the old to receive the new; old mindsets and habits must give way so that I can be prepared to step into a completely new experience.

And isn't that why I turned my own world upside down in the first place?