“It is only alone, truly alone, that one bursts apart, springs forth.”
-Maria Isabel Barren
I stared at the Mount Si sign, adjusting my backpack, putting one foot in front of the other to launch myself up the mountain. A year ago, the thought of doing anything alone would’ve killed me. It’s incredible when all of a sudden the limits you created for yourself no longer exist.
I crave people: community, conversation and energy – I need it in my life. In other words, I’m an extrovert. But as I’ve become more self-aware, I’m learning that there’s a quiet little voice that urges me to be alone and find myself. Prior to this discovery, the extrovert was so happy to have found an amazing person to spend my entire life with.
I made a decision. I stood in front of family and friends and said yes to a life. Even though a little introvert voice asked me politely to wait, I still said yes and committed my life to another person. I could list off the reasons I did it: love, mom’s cancer, “ideals,” but there isn’t really any use in doing that. As time passed and I lived confined to a role I wasn’t sure I wanted, that little voice grew louder.
Miles and miles away from my old life, moments of loneliness hit when I crave it. Then I remind myself that I left. And when I did, the quiet voice became a pounding song that held my hand as I drove away. I needed to find myself. I needed to know what I wanted – and it had to be done alone. I had to allow myself to take that journey.
People shift and change. If we don’t let them, we lose them. If you start to feel dishonest about yourself, you lose you. I was so lost, and I never even knew who I was to begin with. I hadn’t given myself a chance to find it.
Sweating up Mount Si, the grey skies cleared to let light in and it hit me – how everything is beautifully flawed. If we allow everyone to be a perfect mess, we can find our way on our own – but still together.
I have been many different versions of myself. I’ve had every hair colour and tried almost every sport. From student council president to class troublemaker, yoga teacher to trucker’s mouth, I add a lot of flavour in the pot. I’m aware of this.
In my marriage I felt like I was wearing all of these hats, trying to find yet another version of myself that fit for somebody else, not one that fit for me. I was left with a room full of hats and I didn’t want to wear any of them.
I truly need to know who I am in order to mean what I say in life. I had to discover it the hard way. I had to break a promise. I had to learn that the grass can be browner, and you won’t make it into everyone’s good books along the way, but you’re worth finding.
Somehow I know that every experience has led me here – to knowing myself. Every bad decision and wrong turn was actually the path I needed to take.
I’ve never learned anything by following directions. Falling over has helped me up, and getting lost has helped me find the way.
Now I’m on top of this, looking over it.
The view is imperfectly perfect, but I’ve earned it. More self-aware, I get me and I know how I fit. I didn’t discover any of this by ignoring the quiet voice inside my soul; I found it by becoming best friends with it.
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