I’ve learned so many things from Chris’s death and every day I find new lessons in my life. This morning it dawned on me (pun intended LOL!) that I spent the years of my twenties running the wrong race and I thought all the stress and worries I carried was just a normal part of being an adult and stepping into “the real world.”
I don’t think that’s true. In reality, I was running the wrong race and all the distractions of life—finances, relationships, education, job, etc.—kept me distracted from seeing the Wrong Way Do Not Enter signs. I was stuck in the rigid line of thinking that I had to do things a certain way if I wanted to be successful and make something of myself. I wanted to make my loved ones proud and I thought there was a specific way to do that—college, career, house, marriage, kids, and the list goes on.
I had it in my head that these were the Rules for Success and if you know me at all I live by the rules 99% of the time. I followed these rules and went through my checklist for success one milestone at a time. While working through my list I was stressed and anxious but I was moving forward. While I love basking in the glow of reaching the end of my checklist, I tend to enjoy the challenge of getting there much more. The distraction of overcoming the challenges in front of me was enough to keep me from assessing whether or not this road was right for me. My head kept saying, “Yes this is going to be great when we’re done!” But my heart was standing there with arms crossed saying, “Whatever you say. You’re the brains of this operation.” *insert eye roll*
I’d come to the point in my life where I’d checked off college, career, house, marriage, more college, and then I found a hobby that made my heart happy. The summer of 2013 truly felt like the point in my life where I started to realize all the other stuff was important and great but writing made me feel alive and fulfilled. I’d never felt more at home with a group of “internet friends” as I did that June at Utopia in Nashville. As a little girl I’d always dreamed of going to Nashville but to become a country music singer NOT for writing.
Seems my heart knew more than my head about that situation. Sometimes I think our brains get a little cocky with all the concrete, worldly knowledge in them that they ignore the heart all too often. It’s easier to believe what we can see rather than what we feel—and yet we can have everything we thought we should have, do everything we think we should do, and still have an unsettled heart. Hmm…guess that heart is an important player after all.
If you know my story then you know my life plans crashed and burned that fall. And as horrible and awful as that was for oh so many reasons it did many positive things for me and one of those was it made me stop. I had to stop running and catch my breath. I sat down on that path and after a period of intense mourning I opened my eyes (courtesy of God’s grace) and realized I was on the wrong path all together.
I looked around and saw the signs my heart had been nagging at me all along but all the wrong turns had left me with responsibilities that in order to uphold I had to keep running in the wrong direction. As weird as this may sound, I thank God and Chris for causing me to take note and change direction to get over on the right path. Now I’m not saying that I don’t look longingly back at those wrong roads—sometimes they intertwine and tempt me to hop back on them. They look easier with their well-worn walkways and well-groomed vegetation. Some days my road looks nice and easy and then some days I’m climbing up the side of a cliff or stumbling over rocks and climbing through thorny vines but it’s the place I’m meant to be.
I hear so many people my age, younger, and even older saying, “I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know who I want to be. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life.” I’m pretty sure they want to throw a shoe at my head when I say, “Follow your heart. Don’t do what everyone else is doing! There’s no specific timeline you have to follow or list you have to accomplish! Go where your heart leads—do what makes you feel alive, what makes your heart sing. BUT don’t forget to take your head with you.” If you don’t know what that special thing is it’s easiest to discern what you DON’T want to do (I’m not saying stop paying your bills or be irresponsible—that’s not cool.) You have to figure out the root of your grief and find ways to change it.
It’s a tough jump from the wrong path to the right one but you can do it! Even if it means you’re crawling through the mud, thorns, and vines to get there like I did. Do it! We each have our own special race—stop wearing yourself out running somebody else’s.
Those Rules for Success you feel pressured to follow are crap. I can’t believe I’m about to say this BUT sometimes you have to break the rules. This is one of those times. God didn’t intend for us to live cookie cutter lives—we’re meant to live and run our own races with our own unique flair and in my case that includes lots of sparkles. 😉
#RunYourOwnRace #BeYourself #FollowYourHeart #FindYourPath