It occurred to me recently that most of my focus these past few years has been on getting rid of things that don’t serve me, and putting my energy into what lights me up. It seems so simple, but we are influenced greatly by our partners, families, employers, friends, neighbors, social media… everyone shows us the way we’re “supposed” to be, so it’s no surprise that many of us get lost along the way! As I work to uncover the real me and prioritize the things that mean the most to me, I am finding myself healing from past experiences that have carved my path. I finally feel ready to address and share some of those things. As I work through these traumas (and move past them), I am fully embracing the me that I love and everything that represents who God made me to be authentically.
Where do I start with this story? Let’s go back to the day I left my dream life. I remember as I was driving out of San Diego, not knowing when or if I would return, I immediately felt a sense of freedom. I put “Free Falling” on repeat and sang it loudly (maybe even maniacally), with the top down on my VW beetle convertible as I headed East on Highway 8. I had a daisy dash ornament, which I watched dance around as I drove away from my unhappy life. I watched it through my windshield as I drove, promising myself to continue looking forward, and not to chicken out and look (or even worse) turn back. I kept this up until I got to my first scheduled stop, Chandler, Arizona.
“That doesn’t sound like you.”
I knew I’d be safe in Chandler. I could unapologetically be myself there. I sat at my old barstool and had huge cold mugs of cheap domestic drafts with one of my “best friends”. I use that term loosely, because I didn’t realize until that moment that I hadn’t put much time or any energy into my real and true friends from my life “before”. No wonder I had felt so lonely most of the time. We sat, reminiscing about the past, laughing at ourselves and our stories, and it was then that I realized… part of the old me was already back! I had been so lost; the real me had been shoved down somewhere deep, hiding because I didn’t fit into someone else’s mold of who they thought I should be.
I began answering the obvious, but until then ignored, question, “so why are you leaving San Diego?”, and his simple, straight to the point response woke me. It was something along the lines of “Well that doesn’t sound like you. Why did you put up with that crap?” Good question, friend. Good question.
I knew without a doubt that I had to keep driving East, further away from the life that had been suffocating the real me. I figured the further away I got, the closer I’d get to finding myself again. I vowed to never again allow that to happen. I would guard my heart and my soul, make my own decisions, and eventually, I would figure out who I am again.
If you are still reading, thanks for letting me share a part of my story! I want to encourage you, right now, to stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, am I living the life I want, or the life someone else wants for me? Am I in a safe and nurturing environment, or am I in a situation that I shouldn’t be in? It took nearly three years for me to finally listen to my family and decide to drive away. Don’t wait. Be honest with yourself, and if you need to recalibrate, do it! I am not a licensed counselor, but please feel free to reach out if you need support on any of this. I know from experience that even when you know something isn’t right, it is not easy to leave (and stay gone).