The house is empty, the Christmas lights are glowing, allowing for a quiet moment of reflection that I’ve been lacking since my return from Ecuador. The initial excitement of returning home and spending time with my sisters and family has taken it’s course. The reality of a Midwestern winter spent in the suburbs is starting to take hold and with it the kinds of self-doubt that keep me awake, heart pounding in the dead of night.
I am content. Still, there’s this inner restlessness that I can’t seem to shake. It quietly reminds me not to get stuck in a rut, to have the courage to chase my dreams (as elusive as they might be), to discover more of the world. This inner voice is constantly competing with a louder, more confident voice encouraging me to settle down, cling to security, do the responsible thing.
You see, I’m surrounded by peers who seem to be constantly adding to their lives just as I’m trying to let go. There are weddings and pregnancies, new jobs and cars, bigger houses and paychecks to match. As much as I try to pretend otherwise, I want these things too. But I also want the freedom of carrying everything I own on my back, the chance to see remote villages full of people who look, act, and live differently than me. I want to focus my time on intrinsic values, discarding the weight of consumption and consumerism. I want to love without expecting to be loved in return.
Three more months. I have given myself this symbolic deadline to decide my next steps, to alter my path, to take a leap of faith into the unknown. It’s a change I want to make, need to make but that does not mean I am ready or prepared to face what comes next.
I had originally planned on returning home for the holidays and then quitting my job and heading for Southeast Asia in January. From there I would follow my wanderlust spirit on to the next adventure. And then my best friend got engaged. And my sister graduated from college to move back home. And my grandma passed away. And I forgot how nice it was to be in a familiar place. And so I gave myself a few more months to try and figure “it” out.
You see, I am often overwhelmed by the endless possibilities my young life holds. I am spellbound by the amount of choices and decisions to consider, paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong move. Yet, I am reminded that Real Life is about constantly adding and subtracting. Some things we can control- the ending of a relationship, choosing to start a family, moving across state lines, applying for that graduate program you’ve been pining over for months. Other things are beyond our reach-the tragedy of losing a loved one, an unexpected injury, receiving another rejection letter in the mail. Still, I am convinced that I must let go in order to live more fully.
The older I become the harsher the reality of choosing my own path becomes, even if it is right for me right now. I begin to feel more and more as if I’m sticking out like a sore thumb, a true societal misfit, choosing community and freedom over independence and security. I have already begun this process, this shift from the “norm,” moving out of my perfect one bedroom city apartment to live with my mother and sisters in the ‘burbs, leaving my belongings in a few scattered boxes in the basement. Soon, I will let go of my first professional job, a position I’ve held for over three years. Along with it I will say goodbye to co-workers that have become like family, the security of a steady income and the ability to turn back. This terrifies me to the core.
Three more months. Three long, cold, winter months before the arrival of Spring and with it the courage to pursue my own path into the Unknown.
*Photo uploaded from Pinterest, taken by Sebastian Luczywo