“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” – Unknown (…or Pinterest)
There is so much beauty in the journey. So Much! My future autobiography will be fascinating!
In recent months, I’ve had amazing conversations with close friends and family. Reflecting, I discovered that I have a natural ability to connect seemingly insignificant things to reveal the overarching themes influencing the dialogue. Identifying moments that appear trivial to others while mapping out natural connections is becoming my strength.
Perhaps, it is because I listen. The words are important, but the emotion behind them is powerful. Listening is key. Going beyond the ability of the ears to listen with the heart is priceless. In doing so, I have learned so much about others while getting to the core of what the conversations are truly about.
For example, one of my students had a heart-to-heart with herself. I just happened to be in the room. Well, the conversation was in my office. Mid-meeting, she appeared worried and distracted. Functioning, but extremely worried and extremely distracted. I paused the meeting and simply asked if she was okay. Quicker than I expected she replied, “No.” I got up from my desk and closed the door before asking the loaded question, “What worries you?”
It was in that moment that I pushed my meeting notes aside and truly listened to what she had to say. Her words were important but her non-verbals were key. Throughout the conversation, she kept mentioning this amazing life plan that she had yet to define, overwhelming to-do lists, and the ever-fleeting ‘me time’ that seemed to fall from the self-care list all too often. To sum up her concerns, she was so busy and had so much to do. Her friends had their life plans and she didn’t. Statements like “it sucks” and “I just can’t” entered the room. And then, we sat through a few minutes of quiet.
Now, I am not a counselor of any sorts. My only claim to fame is that one of my degrees is in Psychology. And, as my professor used to say, a bachelors degree gives you enough information to be dangerous, misdiagnosing friends and random people on the street. That is definitely true. Nonetheless, I had a heart-to-heart conversation because I’ve definitely been in her shoes. Ever so often I walk by the shoe rack of life and contemplate trying those shoes on again. Thank goodness, they don’t work for many of my outfits.
My advice to her was from experience, and most importantly it was from the heart. To sum it up, I am sharing the overarching themes with you. This post will be a reminder for me in the future, just as it is a message for you in this moment.
- Make a list. An overwhelming feeling can be calmed by looking at things on paper. I can’t even type my lists. They must be written. There is something special about being able to physically cross off items and accomplishments. It’s like strikeout by strikethrough, you are regaining control of life.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. A good ‘girl bye’ puts this one in check. As we reviewed life plans and laughed through her potential solutions, there was frustration because of what others claimed to work towards. My question was “Why are you even mad when their blessings ain’t for you?” We allow ourselves to become so aggravated. I’m guilty of this too. But baby, best believe, a quick prayer will nip that shit in the bud. Ha! #WontHeDoIt
- People who claim to have it all figured out are liars and thieves in the night who tell bedtime stories of falsehood and fallacy. *Whew!* I have yet to meet someone who truly has it all together. In fact, I find comfort in vulnerability and the unease that is admitting that you have no clue what is going on. There is nothing wrong with an uncertain future. In fact, that is the joy in the JOurneY. The beauty appears when you share your uncertainty with an unwavering belief that your future is protected by your faith (1 Peter 1:5). You may not know how it’s going to happen, but you do know when.
- Be your own hype woman. An Instagram post said it best. “Sometimes you don’t realize you’re drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor.” Uplifting others is cute and all, until you realize they’re sailing along while you’re sinking without a life jacket. You have permission to be selfish (but not mean spirited). You have permission to claim time and energy for yourself. Unplug from distractions (but avoid too much isolation). Take care of you. Learn to say no (tactfully). Talk to someone you trust who listens well (professionally or not). Those are small steps toward self-care.
- And last but not least, clap for your damn self. Only you know your story and the obstacles you face. Don’t expect applause, especially when you’re doing things that you’re supposed to do. One of my favorite posts on Instagram says, “I’ll give credit when it’s due, but I’m not gone applaud a fish for swimming.” To others, you’re just swimming. You appear as a duck on the water, calm. However, you’re working tirelessly below the surface to stay afloat. Remember the work that it takes to make what you do look easy. It’s about satisfaction and doing your best. It is never about the opinions of others. The moment you’re working for an applause is the moment you begin to fail.
It’s all about embracing joy in the JOurneY. If we knew everything, it would be a pretty dull ride. I’ll end this post with a quote from Yvonne Orji. “…I really didn’t have a plan. I was like Joseph in the Bible. …if God said it, then cool.”
So, to my dear readers, be you. Be cool!
K. Jones ♥