Is it fair to say I can have anything I want? What if the walls in my life could become runways instead? Are my boundaries real, or did I put them there myself out of fear? What if one day, I just decided to live with abandon? What would that look like? And why don’t I just do it?
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, particularly because everyone around me is processing the aftermath and ongoing impacts of a global pandemic that has stolen life as we knew it from us. These kinds of watershed moments inevitably invite change: endless endings and beginnings, new perspectives, and re-evaluation of priorities. How else can we come to understand what we’ve just been through? It’s a lot, even for the best of us.
For me, the past few years have brought self awareness, the ability to remain patient through constant change, and the resolve to unapologetically stand firm in areas I may have previously compromised in order to placate those around me from whom I wanted to gain approval. Generally, I am in a much better place mentally than I ever have been. It feels strange to say I’ve emerged from a tragedy more whole than I was before, but, well, here I am and here we are.
There is a logical explanation, and I think I am beginning to understand it.
It started with the thought that, for the first time as an adult, I might actually be allowed to explore my interests, openly admit my life passions, and really, truly be myself publicly. I realize for some this may not be a revelation, but rather, commonplace. For me, it was the first time a thought sparked the possibility that I could make choices without explanation or expectation. I may be late to the game, but either way I’m grateful I’m here now.
As we look for meaning by grappling with the chaos that is our lives and fill every millisecond with something to do, we tend to become very small. Minor inconveniences become feverish hot buttons just waiting to be pressed. All we can see is the mountain of overwhelm we have built in front of ourselves and then curse the universe for our fate. Cue: Some perspective.
One word, or phrase, or story is all it takes to pan out our perspective to allow us to see the big picture once again, and just how small those “mountainous” problems really are. You’ve been there. So have I. So have we all. For me, it was as recent as this week. It’s the moment I realized how a global pandemic delivers the ultimate perspective those who choose to allow it: Anything is possible.
I know, I know, we were all told as kids we could do anything we put our minds to and as adults we realized this was malarkey, blah, blah blah. The truth is…it’s half true. I can do anything I want (within legal limits of course), but there are two qualifiers attached to it.
- You have to be able to imagine that it can be real. If you can’t see it in your mind, if you don’t believe it to be true, then it’s not and it can’t be. As adults, we aren’t encouraged to use our imaginations as we were when we were children. I read a lot of books as a child and remember that using my imagination, I could envision any character, any story, any adventure. I did that same thing when my brother and I would play outdoors. As an adult, what we are taught to imagine are the rules, boundaries, and norms that help us fit in. So fun! Let your mind wander past these, and imagine who you might be. You might just recognize who you were before the crushing weight of adulthood led you to believe otherwise.
2. You have to be willing to put in the effort/work/time/sacrifice it will take for this thing to be a reality. This may mean different things to different people, but the crux is that if you’re not willing, then it’s a dream you will never truly bring to life, and it’s time to let someone else have it. Focus instead on the thing you keep coming back to, or the thing you left in your childhood and never forgot, or the question you want answered but have been afraid to ask. Trust your own nature to lead you in places you want to go, and trust that if it feels right, you’ll find everything you need to see it through. Now is the time, and you are the person to do it.
Going back to my first question, I do think it’s fair to say I can have anything I want, and so can anyone….within the right context, with the right mindset, and with the imagination to make it possible.
The next time you find yourself face to face with a moment that will change your life forever, you just may find that you can imagine your way around it, or through it, or maybe even on the other side of it.