foreword (n) – a short introductory essay preceding the text of a book / forward (adv) – movement onward so as to make progress
I am an expert at looking like an expert. (without really being one at all)
Can I get an ‘amen’ from all my fiercely motivated perfectionists out there? We work so hard to tie life up in a neat little bow when the reality sometimes looks more like the aftermath of a tornado. I cannot tell you the number of times I have set an unrealistic prediction for myself with full intention of accomplishing it, even though the likelihood of it going according to plan is nothing short of impossible. I’m sure my fellow idealists will agree that this go-getter mentality gets us places, but it comes at the expense of our personal well-being if we aren’t careful to keep it in check.
When the expectation I set for myself is perfection, the reality is that I will constantly be falling short, and as a result, always frustrated with myself. I want to enjoy the learning process that comes along with messing up, but truthfully I can’t seem to let myself catch a break. Be better, let it go, move on, I tell myself. But also, don’t let it happen in the first place.
Frankly, though, since when am I the authority on having it all together? Why can’t I find the grace to be kinder to myself? Letting go of things is painful, especially in this odd set of circumstances where I’m having trouble looking forward clearly. The people who know me deeply, who understand my competitive personality, my dry sense of humor and this unrelenting tendency to be tough on myself, are not people who share my physical space. I’m living now in this setting where I get to be independent, adventurous and constantly moving- my dream environment both personally and professionally. The chance to travel and meet new people every week is something I have to pinch myself about as a reminder that it’s real. It’s inspiring, motivating and never the same day twice, and it has fundamentally changed the way I look at the world.
However, I’m seeing more and more that without any sort of grounding, I’m left without a clear understanding of who I am and what I actually want. I, who tout my stubborn independence like a shiny badge of honor, need community more than ever. I am fraying at the seams without it. This year is humbling me in a profound way, teaching me to strike a balance between wanting to do it all and admitting my earnest need for people who know my heart.
Community brings us life in the most dynamic, enriching way. I am so, so grateful for it and ready to make it more of a priority. By the end of this year I hope to be in a new place entirely, which I know comes with a whole different set of challenges and a willingness to put myself out there and start fresh. Creating community is active. It requires vulnerability, an appreciation for loneliness and a desire to establish something brand new. It’s scary, but it’s also decidedly freeing. I love the idea of seeking out people who will make me better by loving me exactly where I am. This is my foreword, the beginning chapter of a story unfolding in greater ways than I could ever hope to plan. And you know what? That in itself is a grand exercise in letting go.