I’ve noticed a pattern forming in my life, lately. It is one of those rhythms that forms subtly and seems to reflect my head space. It has to do with direction. I was scrolling through recent pictures that I’ve taken on my phone, and I noticed that there is a distinct theme of “going” threaded through them all. Tunnels, stairs, doors; they are all side-glances. They are all a motion from here to there.
One of my English profs constantly says: “watch for the signs!” Watch for the signs. Trace the repetition. Catch the hints. I’m seeing this principle carving itself into my daily life. If I’m reading the signs correctly, I’m in a phase of “going.” I’m in one of those dynamic seasons where change and opposition seems to flare up with every step.
One of these changes is that I’ve decided to withdraw from University for a time. From December till September, I’ll have a haze of empty space to fill and some days that is exciting, some days it is intimidating. I want to fill it well, educate myself outside of the classroom, use the freedom to reflect and to try some new things and to work. I want it to be a place of re-assembling and of laying low. I want to use it to prepare and to stretch and to catch my breath.
I’m always going. Moving and change and I are old friends. Now I’m cutting a huge hole of open, semi-stable time into the next year, which is something I’ve never done before. It is a little uncomfortable, to be honest, and I’ve been reflecting on it in quieter moments. This weekend I spontaneously took a bus home and during the trip, the middle ground, I thought about this motif of journey.
I love transformation. I love to push myself to do more, to make mistakes and learn from them. I love looking over my shoulder at where I’ve been. I’m always attempting to become someone better. That is usually a good, healthy thing. But what happens when I look up and notice that the space I’m in is not where I should be?
We’re all on a journey of transformation, of becoming. Sometimes, however, this journey is not an exploration. Sometimes it resembles running away more than anything. There are pieces of ourselves that can be uncomfortable and scary. These are the things we know about ourselves, but would rather avoid. We’d rather stuff away this dream or this talent or this issue that we know exists within us but for whatever reason it comes wrapped in fear or hurt or insecurity. Maybe we’re supposed to be running toward these things, pursuing healing or an edging open of ourselves, but instead we’re running in the opposite direction and calling that our “journey.”
These are the signs. Right now I’m closing doors and taking a new path. I’m changing directions and I think that is ok. It is ok to pause and check the map and be honest about the fact that you might be trying to follow a trail that isn’t going to lead to the destination you thought it would. It is ok to take a break, re-evaluate, and chart a slightly new course.
Sometimes we grow out of our spaces. Sometimes we’re trying to squeeze ourselves into a place we don’t fit. Sometimes we place expectations on ourselves and need to be honest and admit that we’ll never measure up to that constructed ideal in our heads. Sometimes we’re just blindly blazing forward out of fear or a binding tunnel vision. What path are you actually on? Do you need to change directions?
Watch for the signs.