So I’ll just get straight to it: I’ve been in a relationship for one month, and honestly, it feels both like one week and one decade. And just so we are all on the same page, this relationship isn’t my first (and the whole of the internet nodded in agreement), but in many ways it feels like the first—perhaps because it is the first time I’ve loved and been loved by someone who shares my faith. A striking thing I learned is that God is such a game-changer. His leading of a love shared is revolutionary. Every single one of my expectations from this new relationship has been crushed and pressed, but in such a gracious way that the crushing and pressing actually ends up creating something so much better than what was originally expected.
On a tombstone, you will find three prominent things: the date of birth of the one who was laid to rest, the date of his or her passing, and a few words that encapsulate the life that was left behind. But when you think about it, it’s actually neither of the two dates that contribute the most to anyone’s personhood. It’s the much-overlooked punctuation that, in spite of its negligible size, holds the biggest story and dictates so much of who the individual was.
It’s the – (and it’s so small that, just to be sure, I need to articulate that I’m talking about the hyphen).
Maybe it looks that way, small and barely noticeable, because we are creatures endlessly fascinated with beginnings and endings. We celebrate the 31st of December and the 1st of January with literal bangs, but no one greets, say, the 27th of May with collective revelry. We document sunrises, wax poetic about sunsets, but no one heads out in the middle of the day and says, “Wow! Look at this 2pm sky!” We greet, celebrate, mourn, or grieve starts and finishes. However way we meet them and acknowledge them, the point is, we do. But do we do the same for the middles that make up our lives?
Just this weekend, I went on a content trip with my dream team. They’re this amazing trio—each one I met differently, separately—but we all came together to help share a very important story, and the past couple of days were dedicated to creatively mining what we could to best tell that story.
Excluding me, the average age of this team is 22. I’m only turning 27 this year (in spite of what my bedtime and my overall habits imply, I am not a lola), but even with just a five-year age gap, the lens, the perspective that the three of them use to look at life is already so different from mine. Not just different, actually, but much, much better. They see things I could never, unless pointed out. They act without considering confines. They creatively think and express themselves in a way that suggests that they didn’t have to study what they know—it’s coming from a place of pure instinct.
So here’s what that taught me: As much as I deeply value the thoughts and opinions of those who have come before me, I am also so, so inspired by those who will inevitably succeed me in every sense of the word—those who will come after me and also be better than I ever will be.
When I was in my late teens up until my early 20s, I would get these horrible—not just moments, but attacks—of insecurity. There were nights when I’d wrap a pillow around my head in a useless fight to drown out the voices in my head that would tell me I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t worthy of anything.
I still remember drenching portions of my blanket with tears.
I’ve gotten much better at dealing with insecurity over the past five years, but occasionally it still rears itself, no longer through an overflow of tears, but in the form of crippling doubt. Especially in these early stages of entrepreneurship (more on this next time), there are still days when I feel frozen in fear for what’s ahead of me, and I begin teetering on the brink of thinking that I have already lost before I have even started.
When I have those days, I remind myself to starve the lies. Come face to face with your insecurities, and you’ll begin to see them for what they really are: Lies. They are pieces of deception meant to hinder you from seeing and embracing the fullness of your own life. Now, I believe that on their own, insecurities are not enough to consume you. Case in point: Sometimes I look at the mirror and have zero appreciation for what I see. But I just heave a sigh, and go on with my day, hopeful that there will be some days when I will feel comfortable in my own skin (there are). So while the insecurities about how I look are very much present, they aren’t enough to beat me down. What I realized? An insecurity, a lie is only given power is when you begin assigning it with the power of truth. When you start falling for the deception.
Someone once told me—and by someone, I mean my mother, who always finds her way into these reflections of mine—anyway, she told me that it looked exhausting to live my life. “You are only happy when things are exactly the way you want them to be,” she said. I believe I answered by showing her the whites of my eyes.
I mean, of course I was happy when things happened the way I planned! What kind of insane person wouldn’t want that? But I was missing her whole point. I was ONLY happy when things were going to the letter of my way. Meaning, during the inevitable 90% of the time when life was NOT working out exactly like how I planned, I was always left frustrated and disappointed, fully aware of and suffocating in my lack.
Indeed, it was exhausting to live my life. Well, that life.
I was asked recently, “What’s your dream?” And for the first time in my life, I was dumbfounded. From the age of 12, I’ve always known how to answer that question. To be an anchorwoman! A journalist! An editor-in-chief! An ARTISTA! (This latter one was crushed early on.)
But also fairly recently, I was offered a shot of realizing my biggest dream and I—yes, also to my surprise—turned it down. The short of it, I realized that fulfilling this dream won’t give me the contentment I yearned for. And that’s when I realized something about dreams—they are not sources of true joy.
Whenever I find myself at the end of a romantic relationship, after grieving the loss of love and time invested over the years, I am always faced with fear that I allow to seep and settle in the corners of my mind and heart. For some reason, I am—or I used to be—very good at convincing myself that no one is ever going to love me like that one person did.
I am selfish, unaffectionate, too single-minded and upfront, I tell myself. I care about my goals and my own successes so much, and never as much as I do for others’ plans. I don’t like holding hands, absolutely loathe being called babe (I cringe as I write it)… I am quick to get angry, quick to spout venom through the things I say. I will tell you when you look ugly and will never mince my words. My goodness, who can love someone who’s wired that way?