“On your way you will find the meaning in the rhyme/
I know the best thing in my life is happening now…”
– “The Moment,” Nine Days
Yesterday, I spent my birthday shopping with my mom; it was the best day I’ve had in a very, very long while. Today I’m paying for it physically, as I pushed myself farther than I should have for recovering from an illness, but it was well worth it for my change in attitude and perspective.
If you’ve been with me throughout these past few months, thanks. You’ve seen just how difficult a journey this has been for me, and you know that I never would have anticipated these challenges and setbacks. I’ve had a difficult time pursuing a career, yes, but I’ve found the greater struggle to be a bit more personal.
Back in January, I made a promise that 2008 would be different from the previous post-graduation years — I told myself that there would be a change, a transformation, a new direction. For a very long time afterwards, despite this declaration, I felt myself in a slow decline. I was going in the wrong direction, and the transformation that I so badly wanted wasn’t a positive one.
When you’re stuck in quicksand, so to speak, it’s hard to see a way out, to imagine yourself walking on solid ground. A loss of a sense of self is the worst kind of quicksand, as obstacles become brick barriers and challenges seem impossible to defy. While everyone else continues on dry, stable land, finding alternate routes to bypass those barriers, you’re slowly sinking, wondering how you’ll ever catch up.
Because I’ve spent the past year undergoing a state of limbo and uncertainty, I tried to convince myself that things would be fine once I turned 25. It would be a fresh start — I would get back on track, rediscover myself, and suddenly have a renewed motivation to continue striving towards my goals. I believe that my determination to turn things around for myself has led to a change in self-perception, for as subtle as it was, a transformation has taken place:
Yesterday my smile was genuine.
“That’s the Susan I know,” my mom said as we took a brief break from our shopping expedition and sat down to lunch.
It was the Susan I recognized as well — I laughed, I joked, I made faces at the clothes my mom picked out. I felt more positive, more me, than I had in months.
In this time, I’ve since learned that struggles in personal development and self-awareness have no age limit, and that they are, indeed, personal and individual. When I stop believing that life is a race to become successful, when I stop comparing myself to others and work with what I have, I’m able to better appreciate the lessons these past few months have taught me. Perhaps these setbacks aren’t setbacks at all — as I’m still moving forward, moving towards something. It wasn’t what I wanted or expected, but maybe there’s a lesson in that, too. The truth is, no one is exempt from facing challenges, whether internal or external, me least of all. Every path has a little patch of quicksand.
I don’t think the “real me” was ever truly gone, but, rather, buried under layers of self-doubt and insecurity that months of discouragement and uncertainty kept piling on. Bit by bit, I can feel those layers peeling away — I feel hopeful, I feel optimistic, I feel ready to find my alternate route.
“Is the sparkle back?” I asked her, and she nodded.
“It’s getting there.”