Once upon a time, I knew who I was, and I knew what I wanted…except…I didn’t.
I was a spunky little girl who loved to dance spontaneously, twirl in skirts, play outside for hours, curl up with a good book, and laugh as hard as I could.
Without giving a thought, I would talk to anyone who would listen, befriend strangers at random, and daydream about a future that was bright and full of adventure.
I lost that little girl through years of insecurity and instability.
I became sullen and withdrawn, emotional and rebellious.
This led to being insincere and disingenuous.
Whereas I’d once wanted a life full of travel, creativity and time spent in nature, I decided it was good enough for me to find normalcy, sameness, and survival.
A carefree freelance writer? Why do that when you can be a “normal” and safe teacher?
Travel the country via an RV and journal about it? What’s the point? Just visit your usuals and stay in a hotel.
Dress, eat, and live however the heck you want? But what about what these people will think? What about those women? How can you not worry about what others will say?
Even for me, a wild child at heart, the pull of what others thought about me, the worry of the rug slipping out, and the thought that everything would fall apart if I behaved as myself used to be all it took for me to crawl back inside my shell and hide.
And when I did venture out from time to time: self-publishing a book here, writing a public blog there, trying this new hairstyle, or hanging out with that new girl–or, gasp!– allowing my children to be who they chose, as opposed to forcing them into every activity and new fad under the sun, sure enough, I would hear the gossip abound from those who were vehemently against living life authentically.
After years of feeling different, I wondered if maybe I was wrong, and they were right.
Maybe it wasn’t that they were against living authentically; maybe to them authentic meant having all those things that I didn’t care so much about.
Maybe it was true that I’d been damaged by the years of abuse I endured, I told myself through thoughts of self-condemnation while drinking my anxiety away night after night. Maybe I was the bad one. I was broken. I was less than.
It was years–forty, to be exact–before I realized that neither me nor the people who live like the Joneses were wrong. Whether they were living authentically or not, they’d chosen their path, and I’d chosen mine.
And I’d chosen mine because I’d failed to ask the most important question one should ever ask before making a decision:
Am I doing this for me, or am I doing this for someone else?
Each time we make a decision, we must take accountability for that decision.
But often, we make other people the star of our show. We hold them accountable and place blame on them when our decisions don’t give us what we want.
We play the victim or the martyr or a combination of the two. Or we rush to make a decision because we’re afraid to stop and think about what the outcome of another path might be.
The worst of all decision making are the decisions we make with a foggy head.
Those happen in times where we’ve given up control of our own life and are walking blindly without feeling. We just want to get through it, and we wake up twenty years later, realizing we got through it but we gave up completely.
Here are a few other questions I asked myself to see if I was making the right decision.
Am I running to something, or from something?
Is this decision going to make me happy, or is it going to make me look happy?
Am I making a heart decision or a head decision? (This one is tricky, as oftentimes we must make rational decisions for the sake of our children.)
Can I live with the decision I’m making or will I be really upset twenty years from now?
Will this move me closer to my goal or further away?
And so on.
In order to make clear decisions, I had to stop and think about where I was, where I’d been and where I was heading. I wanted where I was heading to leave me better off, feeling better and more content about the choices I’d made.
We all want our decisions to lead us to Audacious Authenticity.
When I decided I was ready to get sober for good, I knew that part of being sober was being curious about how I’d gotten myself into the mess I’d made of my life.
When I started asking questions and truthfully answering them, it led me to conclude that I’d found myself in sticky situations time and time again because I’d failed to live for authenticity, choosing safety and façade instead.
I’m not perfect, and I never will be. Abandoning black and white thinking was what led me to my ultimate peace, my “HUQUMMA,” I call it.
It’s amazing that mystery gives us comfort, but what I’ve learned is that humans aren’t meant to know everything.
We’re not. We couldn’t possibly.
I’m embracing my mystery, my HUQUMMA, my peace, my Christ.
And I’m doing it all for me.
See you soon,