Give YOURSELF choices. When I was eighteen, fresh off the stage of high school graduation, my parents bought me a one-way ticket to another state to begin college. They'd given me the ultimate ultimatum: attend a religious school, or we aren't paying. After a tumultuous year of arguments over a long-term non-religious boyfriend, non-religious friends, and my lack of church attendance, instead of continuing down the path of blazing my own trail, I bit the bait. Education was a must and doing it debt-free made total sense. So I boarded the plane--with clipped wings, pieces of me in bags, and my heart still desperately tied to home.
When I arrived, I met the mountains with anger. I was a mess of tears, yet slowly, I was able to adjust my life to my new set of circumstances. I started college, got a retail job, started meeting people, broke it off with the boy at home and fell hard for a boy my parents would have liked. Meanwhile, the depression that I'd been carrying for over a year, was growing heavier and heavier.
Listen to YOUR quiet wants and needs. One Spring afternoon at the craft store, on my way through the checkout line, I laid eyes on a display case full of homemade suckers in twenty or so different colors and flavors. I glanced over them for a minute and then two, considering which one I would buy (one should have been my first red flag). Cherry Vanilla? Mmmm...maybe Raspberry Cream? Nah, maybe I'll go with the Caramel Apple...wait, the Strawberry Swirl is so pretty. But when it came my turn to checkout, I fumbled forward, still undecided. After nearly five minutes staring at the sucker display, when the woman behind the counter asked me "if that was everything," I lied and told her, "Yes."
YOU must not settle. When I returned home from the craft store, I told my friend about my ridiculous encounter with the sucker display, and that I, indeed, lied to a human being over wanting a sucker. Then I unraveled. I was flustered and mad at myself for knowing that I wanted a sucker, but for not knowing how to make a timely and decisive decision. It was a feeling that I had encountered many times over the years; knowing that there was a desire inside for one thing, but turning away because I felt my time was up, or that because saying no would be harder than saying yes. Pleasing others had become the basis of my decision making, and my authentic self was being smothered by the pressure, guilt and resentment in the process. I would know soon, that my coming undone, was my authentic-self crying out.
The choice is YOURS. The next day, my roomie returned home from work and errands and handed me three suckers. "Who needs to choose one, when you can have many?!" she said. And she was so right! There is not one choice, and there definitely is not one way. There's not an ultimate correct life to be lived; not even for family members raised under one roof. The beautiful part about life is that there are choices and we can make them. Every day. And in the process, we nurture our authenticity and create unique, beautiful stories.
Enjoy the life YOU'VE created. The sucker saga was the first stepping stone in taking my life back. Over the next couple of months, I catered to me and listened to my heart and where it was leading. I bought an airline ticket to visit friends who were at home, attending Washington State University, and while I was there, I felt home with the friends that I loved, free to breathe, and uninhibited.
At the close of my visit, shortly before our hour-long drive to the airport, my friend handed me her bracelet with the engraved word, wisdom. I wore it on my wrist each day after returning home, and within a month, I had decided my next move. I told my parents I wanted to move home and attend college back in Washington. With slight hesitation on my Father's part, and tears from my mother, they obliged. They also agreed that I could pay for the next two years of college to finish my degree. Good enough. The thousands of dollars I would spend on tuition, cost far less than the pain of living life unauthentic.
here. It was rad.