I talked in my previous post about suddenly needing to live in the present instead of constantly thinking about the future. I've seen a lot of people talk about all the things they want to do while they are sheltering in place - reading lists, new things they want to learn, healthy meals to cook, start meditating regularly, exercise regularly, do more, do less, etc. I certainly have moments of making similar kinds of lists. But, living in the present has reduced my expectations around what I should be doing.
One of the most startling realizations I've had is that many of the things that I want to do or achieve tend to be based on or related to the person that I want to be in the future. Or more accurately, I want to do or achieve those things because I believe I will have to become a different person to do so. Growth naturally changes people, but this thought is more insidious than that because it is rooted in the fact that there are parts of me that I don't like.
I'm sure I'm not the only person to dislike parts of themselves. Based on the number of posts I see on Instagram talking about the need to love all of yourself I'd say most people feel that way. It's one thing to want to stop nagging or disparaging your loved ones, or to stop second guessing yourself so that you never start that book you've been wanting to write for years. It's another to want to pull yourself together, both physically and emotionally, because you're such a mess and there's no way you can have the life you want if you can't clean up your act.
It took a Shelter In Place order for me to look at my aspirations with a fresh perspective. Being forced to stay at home not knowing when the next time I would get to board a plane to London, or drive up to San Francisco, or visit a friend in another city constricted my world and eliminated my ability to escape my current reality by looking into the future. It stripped me bare of all the things I use to hide from the parts of myself that I don't like and brought me face to face with them. Messy. Large. Too much.
I realized that I have been working hard to eliminate those parts of myself. But are they really so bad? Do I really need to escape them? What if instead of working so hard to become a different kind of person I put my energy into embracing them and seeing if I can use them to create a life I'm excited about? It's not like I don't have the time.
I wish that I could say that I've been successful, but it's only been two weeks since I had this realization and this path is not easy. Learning to embrace all of yourself is hard enough at the best of times. Trying to do it when there is an enormous amount of fear and doubt flying around is ... tricky. So, all I can say is that I'm working on it. And right now, that feels like a big thing.
Have you learned anything new about yourself over the last few weeks?