What would it feel like to surrender? No matter how often I’ve asked myself that question I’ve always quickly shifted gears, spouting cliches like like “never surrender” or classics like “Goonies never say die!” It’s the inevitable pep talk to get me back on the road towards a goal (or nine) always leads to self-destruction.
Because, let’s face it, it’s easy to convince yourself that the hard work pays off and the sacrifices are essential despite the obvious slapping you across the face and saying “girl, this shit ain’t right” and “Let. It. Go.”
That’s when I started giving up.
So about two years ago I started to surrender. It was around the time #libraryschool was starting and, having an endless supply of self-doubt, the panic set it. Crap! I never really put in the time to be a real artist or writer or musician or famous so-and-so celebrity whose face adorned the pages of literary journals or US Weekly. In my mind this was failure. Nearly 30 with my life headed toward oblivion.
These thoughts plagued me.
You were supposed to be a writer. That’s what my parents would say. Or a photographer. Because you can’t just have hobbies, they have to be your career. Also, who cares about a 20-something web developer who works for non-profits, has too many pets, and reads a lot about serial killers and now wants to be a librarian?
This was the trap. The vicious cycle of anger and fatigue and hopelessness that kept me from enjoying the better part of my free time. (If you’re anything like me you will think over your life and actions ad nauseum until you crack because you’re an INFJ and it’s what you do…)
In a word, I was stuck in a loop of believing the only way my life would have any meaning was to be better than everyone else. Period. Just better. Better than my best friend at art. Better than my boyfriend at careerdom. Better than my siblings at money. Better than you. Just…better. This has stuck with me for so long I can’t actually remember a point in my life where middle-child syndrome and side-kick envy didn’t force me to drown in a sea of resentment.
The first thing to go was writing. I’m not a novelist. Never ever will be. I love to write. But that doesn’t mean I have to be a writer. Or a famous blogger. Because, yes, I went through that phase too. In fact, the second thing to go was that crazy notion that I had to be famous. What? Why? I’m not even good at posting selfies. How would I ever handle people wanting to pry into my life? What the hell is wrong with me?
Next was being a bajillionare. I’m a librarian. If making money were that important I would work as a developer for a start up and make bank. My career is important to me. It has to have meaning. Even if you have a lot of money to pay back in student loans.
Then I gave up Etsy, or that outlandish belief that I had to be an artist selling my crafts and goods to people who pay too much for things they could (for the most part) make on their own.
I think you get the picture…
Sometimes it feels like we have to hit reset on our brains and start scraping off layers of muck from our past in order to find that more zen-esque contentment about where we are and what we are going. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay hungry or focused. But I think many of us are stuck on the oldest notions of what and who we are. We see who we should be through the dated lens of other people’s expectations and the expectations of ourselves.
This isn’t giving up. It’s surrender. Letting go of the people you thought you needed to be to finally discover who you really are. Now this might all be bulshit. And I might just be lazy. But for the first time in a long time things are starting to look… clear. And I can finally just be.
Brains are exhausting.