The Only Way Is Up
“Let me fall if I must, the one I will become will catch me.”
-Baal Shem Tov
Recently I did something that is very uncharacteristic of myself. I made the decision to delete nearly every photo album I had online. This may seem like nothing to some people but with photography being one of my favorite hobbies, I probably had 50+ albums, some of which dating back at least ten years. Well, yesterday I deleted them all. Okay, maybe not ALL, but most. Now before I get all over dramatic about it, just know that I do keep hard copies of the best photos from each event/trip in photo albums on my bookcase. Also, I most likely have at least half of them digitally stored on some unknown device somewhere in my life. So it’s not like I’m deleting my entire past. Although, I truly cannot explain to you how liberating this was. To be totally honest, I’m not even exactly certain why, but it feels like a weight has been lifted. Maybe it is because the majority of the activities in those photos don’t appeal to me anymore? Or possibly it is that some of the “friends” in those photos aren’t really friends at all? Or maybe it is because I am just not who I used to be. Whatever the reason, I am glad I did it. I feel lighter, happier and ready to move forward. Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of your past. Your younger, naive, irresponsible self will always seem the most appealing the older you get. The thing is, you aren’t that person anymore. Try as hard as you want, but there is no going backward in life. So you may as well embrace where and who you are, here and now.
There is a piece of us that stays stunted in our younger selves, in our past. We protect ourselves by building up layers and pushing through life. Everything you have gone through up to this point has helped you become more of who you really want to be. Every year, every month, even every day is a different version of who we are. Think of it like an update you would do on your phone or computer. We are always growing more into who we really are. We set out and make goals, then once we reach them, we become a newer version of ourselves. And as we grow, so do our dreams, desires, and relationships. Your power is the ability to allow yourself to accept this process and become who you truly are, even if that means leaving somethings behind.
We’re afraid of trusting the process. It’s like the suspense of going through the discovery phase and showing up to deciphering things and meet ourselves as we actually are is just too much. We put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves to be new, different, fresh – a changed person full of health, happiness, and inner peace. But if we don’t achieve all of these things all at once, the blame can sometimes slap us back in the face. We start to build up self-resentment, guilt and negative perceptions of ourselves. We are all too guilty (at least I am) of holding back who we truly are because we worry about what other people will think. But the thing is, the world needs what you have. Someone needs what you have. YOU need what you have. The more kindness you have for yourself, the easier life will be. Life is way too short to spend flogging yourself or feeling bad about any part of yourself.
So back to my point. Most of us put ourselves into boxes. We fall into routines; safe, comfortable habits become the thread of our fabric. We fall into social expectations and learn to pat ourselves on the back for following the rules and staying stuck, but inside our true self is crying because it wants way more than that. Our hearts want more, need more. These goals and opportunities for growth are messages, and if you listen to them, it will always lead you to the most fulfillment. You have to remember that sometimes it is necessary to leave people behind. Love them, care about them and revisit the good times when you can. But just because someone or something made a huge impact on your life at age 24 does not mean that person/thing will be around to celebrate 30 with you, and that is just life. Take what they have given you, embrace how they shaped you and keep moving. Break out of your box, which means to stop trying to fit into society’s expectations of you, and instead invite the world and your relationships to fit into you. There is no question that other people around you are doing the same. Writing it down on paper seems sad, but is it? It’s all connected. Your gifts, your circumstances, your purpose, your imperfections, your journey, your destiny- it’s all molding you. Embrace it.