In all of literature there is very little of the woman’s adventure
because she is already “it”,
and her problem is the realization of that.
A woman has only to be.
– Joseph Campbell
Flash back to a few days previous…
When I look down at my reflection in a spot of still water in the Popo Agie river, I don’t recognize the young woman looking back. It’s as though it was an image of the past staring me right in the eye.
Dressed in my ‘adventure outfit’: pink and white striped half-zip patagonia wool shirt, black mountaineering pants, grey smartwool socks, and hiking boots two sizes too big that always give me blisters, and a weighted down backpack bearing an enormous monster of a burden. I’ve worn this same outfit on nearly every adventure I’ve been on the last three years.
Three years ago I set out on a journey to New Zealand by myself, to find myself. What I found was that I never needed to leave home at all to find myself. I was always right there. But on that trip, I did learn how to live in a different way than I ever had before.
I learned to live independently; when you’re traveling a foreign country alone it’s imperative to be self-sufficient in as many ways as possible. I learned to live in the moment; constantly seeing new landscapes, meeting new people, trying new foods and activities – it’s hard not to live in the moment when you’re traveling freely. I learned to live life like a hero, like my hero; striving to be better, brighter, more joyful. Seeking to make the lives of those I encountered better, brighter, more joyful.
I learned how to live comfortably ungrounded; never staying in a place for too long. I learned how to live without communicating to those closest to me; I only had to check in with my mother every so often, for her sanity… and mine.
So this way of living I discovered seemed to fit me perfectly. I finally felt like I had found my way. My stride. My comfort zone.
And you know, it really worked for me for a long time.
But now, when I look down and see this obscured image of a girl who is no longer me, I suddenly realized just how long I had been running.
I’ve been terrified to stay in one place for too long.
Mostly in fear of rejection. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of letting anyone in close enough to get to know the real me… close enough to hurt me.
So now, I have this life I love with all my heart. I am living in the most beautiful and diverse landscape in the world, I have established a tribe of amazing, caring, talented, beautiful people, I have lived in the same home longer than I have before in my adult life. And I have the best jobs ever; I work at an amazing bookstore and I get to teach people the beautiful practice of yoga… that’s the biggest honor and responsibility I have ever assumed.
And I do not take it lightly. I value each class, each student who shows up to practice with me. Each blissed out smile after class. Each “thank you” & each “Namaste”.
It means the world to me.
And I realize this life I have now is everything I have ever asked for. It’s almost too damn perfect sometimes. And yet, I have still been living in this now partial way because that’s what I’ve known for so long.
I have been living independently even though I don’t need to rely solely on myself.
I have been living like a hero even though I have nothing to prove.
I have been living ungrounded, quick to run away or plot my escape when things don’t go smoothly or get too hard.
And I have been living without authentic communication with those closest to me.
As I am looking at this girl, I suddenly see the cycle I have been caught in. I see that the way I have been living is not serving me, it’s not bringing me lasting joy or satisfaction. It’s a little bit hollow. It’s very much lonely.
A big part of this cycle is not just the running away, but also what happens when I come back. I subconsciously instantly busy myself so that I might not actually have to feel how lost and lonely I am deep down. I keep my mind occupied with this job and that job. I escape by drinking or smoking or eating or mindlessly scrolling through instagram or facebook or pinterest. Until the moment comes where none of this is working anymore. When I make space to slow down and actually feel, the panic button goes off and I lose my calm.
Flight or fight? I always choose flight.
I run as fast as I can.
And I always, always, go at it alone.
Even when I know, truly know, that there are so many people in my life who I could call on for help, for a shoulder to cry on, for an ear to listen to me vent, I still choose to suffer in solitude. Because then, I don’t have to be vulnerable. I don’t have to show my struggle. I don’t have to admit that I am hurting inside just as much as anyone else.
And it’s so, so selfish.
Because those people, the friends who would be there for me in a heartbeat, the students who excitedly show up to a class and find I am not there, my best friends and roommates who care for me more than I will ever know… those people are left to worry about me. To wonder if I am okay. To deal with obligations I left behind. And that’s not fair. To anyone.
So in this exact moment, I am coming to a full realization of all this, what it all means, and how I need to change. And it’s a big moment for me.
It means full responsibility. It means I must grow. It means a whole new way of living.
Living with authenticity.
Living with openness & vulnerability.
Living with trust.
Living with faith.
Living with absolute love.
Living in a way that’s honest. That let’s others in. That shows the real me.
The real me that I can’t seem to see.
It’s easier to criticize myself than love myself.
And I am done taking the easy way.
I guess to sum it all up, I am really just trying to let you know that no matter what you are going through, you never have to go at it alone.
You always have a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to you vent.
You always have a teacher who would drop anything to show you the way.
You always have a home in my home.
You always have a home in my heart.
You always have someone who will be here for you, because I know the pain of loneliness. I’ve experienced darkness so vast I thought I might never find light.
This is my vow to you. This is my vow to myself.
to find deeper powers
come when life
seems most challenging.
Destruction before creation.
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
Let’s dive in deep. Together.