Have you ever been in that uncomfortable place of growth¿ I’m leaving that upside-down question mark, as I hit the wrong combo of keys as I typed out the sentence and it seems to fit perfectly with how I’m feeling about my own growth right now—a little flipped upside down and backwards. It’s not bad—it’s actually quite awesome for the most part. “Messy beautiful” is the term that keeps springing to mind for me. It’s that place that feels alive—a cusp of growing into a bigger, more real version of who I am in the world. And yet, holy crap, is it ever uncomfortable at times.
I was reading Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are last night and I was struck by this: “People may call what happens at midlife “a crisis,” but it’s not. It’s an unraveling—a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re “supposed” to live. The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.” And I thought, yes! An unraveling — that’s definitely what this feels like. As though what was is still there, swirling around me, and yet I know I am moving towards something new—as strongly and firmly as though I’m being pulled out by a tide. It’s both scary and exciting, and while I keep looking back at the safety of the shore, I also know deep within me that it’s limiting in comparison to the vastness and depth of the ocean pulling at me.
“Load the ship and set out. No one knows for certain whether the vessel will sink or reach the harbor. Cautious people say, ‘I’ll do nothing until I can be sure.’ Merchants know better. If you do nothing, you lose. Don’t be one of those merchants who won’t risk the ocean.” —Rumi
The uncomfortableness of the unraveling, I think, is that weird purgatory-like feeling of being caught in the in-between of the old and the new. I have a clear view of the limiting beliefs that I want to let go of—yet I’m also aware that some of them are so old, so ingrained that they are my “go-to” thought process for my day-to-day decision making, interactions, and even my self-image/inner dialogue. Scientifically speaking, they are literally neural pathways in my brain—programs run daily in my brain, many decades in the making. It’s a bit overwhelming, especially when I’m not even fully sure what to replace some habits and thoughts with yet! And yet from the work I do, I know it’s possible.
So, what’s a human to do when the very core of who they are unravels and they’re bobbing in the unknown of unfolding growth?! I don’t know. It’s fairly freeing to admit that. It’s allowing me to be gentle with myself—to float for a little while instead of trying to furiously and fearfully paddle back to the safety of shore. So I’m floating in a sea of love for myself, with gentle waves of patience and tenderness washing over me—knowing this is something new. And, as I do have to keep living out the day-to-day while in this new territory, I’m also swimming a little—testing out new thoughts, ideas, ways of interacting, ways of loving myself and others—trusting that as I make my way out across the ocean of this new part of my life I’ll become a stronger swimmer over time. That I’ll encounter the right questions, the needed tests and growth, maybe (!) a few of the searched-for answers, and all the loving support pouring in as I go. It may seem slow and daunting right now, but I am committed to leaving the shore for new beliefs, habits and thoughts—as though I’m building a great ship piece-by-piece, from which to unfurl my new self like a giant, colorful sail on the wind.
“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There is no greater investment.” —Stephen R. Covey
My gratitude for the post that helped inspire this: Love 101