one of my greatest tendencies ever has been to just figure things out. I couldn’t keep a calm head if i didn’t know all the answers, if i didn’t know atleast a teensy bit about the behind-the-scenes. i just needed to have some sense of control around things, and most importantly about myself. a clear-as-daylight view of who i was. i wanted a map of myself and i wanted to know the exact coordinates of my present location, the coordinates of where i was going to end up and all the possible routes that might lead me there. oh, and why not know about the intervening twists and turns, too? knowledge is power, right? i wanted a stable identity. i wanted a box i could completely fill and say ‘this is my place in the world’ and be sure about it. i couldn’t ever say ‘i don’t know’ as an answer to anything because it made my insides recoil too much. i hated not knowing and having to be patient. i hated not feeling in control.
i am imperfect. as fuck. no matter how much put together or i-have-this-figured-out i look, a small part of me is still under the blankets and scared to come out because things, essentially, aren’t under control. things aren’t figured out. and that’s hard. that’s scary. that unhinges me.
it was 11th grade, i think that i would officially describe as the Unraveling of MySelf. Till then i had always been comfortable with my sense of who i was . i had direction, i knew where i wanted to go, and i bloody did everything i could to get to that place i wanted. the destination was clear and the path all set. a very detailed map with an even more detailed key. everyday was a pre-defined n miles in that direction. in short, i was safe. and that safety made me feel good.
11th grade, then, changed all of that for me. i was no longer any of the labels i had defined myself with. i no longer fit into the box i had snuggled in just a few days before. suddenly, there was no map. it was like someone had wiped out all the landmarks and all the trees and buildings and left me with a clear stretch of land for miles. this is unmapped, uncharted territory. welcome. you can do whatever you want. isn’t that exciting? Exciting?! Do whatever i want?! i had no effin’ idea how to do anything. all i could feel was lost. i just wanted that sense of safety and control back. without it i felt like i had no anchor, no place in the world. i felt off-charts. somewhere no one would be able to find me. not even myself.
losing that sense of your identity is hard. when you’ve drawn up a perfect picture of who you think you are and all the pieces that make you, you, you become attached to that image. it becomes your safety anchor, something you use to define yourself. and that is not a problem. we need to know who we are if we are to find joy and happiness that endures. but always demanding to know the coordinates on a map doesn’t lead to that kind of joy. even demanding a well-defined map of you that tells you where to go and what to do won’t lead to true fulfillment. you won’t find it (and yourself) on a map that’s handed to you and only gives directions like ‘turn left, walk for 20 miles, and end up in Happy-ville’. that is the map we want for ourselves.
what really happens is this- you get thrown into a desert of sorts and then you are given all the cartography instruments with the instructions: This land is all yours. make of it what you want. find your own way to joy. be the cartographer of you.
i am not perfect or a sorted out piece. rather, i am one heck of a hot mess. i feel things too much and too deeply- on both ends of the spectrum. i love to dance whenever and wherever i can. i always want more of this life and i always want to live less from fear and more from intention. i still feel fear, though. fear over my future, about where i am right now, whether i’ll be able to achieve and be all that i want. fear about all the people i have been blessed with and will probably lose one day. it’s all here. fear is never going to leave me. i have accepted that. i just haven’t accepted that as the only reality i can live.
so these days, i am mapping.
i am mapping myself.
i have stopped bemoaning the loss of that map i had 3-4 years back and i am working with the tools i have now. i am looking around and asking myself what i want to cultivate on this land. i am digging into my own Self and finding what matters most to me and letting that be enough. i am going for authentic instead of shiny or what other people have going for themselves. i am admitting to my insecurities, my shortcomings, my i-don’t-know-this and doing whatever the heck i can to not let these dictate my life or my heart. fear is going to be here and it’s going to whisper into my ear ‘this won’t amount to anything, darling. why are you even trying?’ i go on tilling the land and digging up roots for myself.
i still don’t have any exact coordinates. the roads are drawn in pencil and are hazy and meandering aimlessly in some places. and it’s become less about just fucking reaching somewhere and more about how i am living where i am right now.
if you ask me what my life will look 3 years from now, i’ll probably stutter in my answer. i won’t pretend to know. i don’t know (there i said it). but i can sure as hell tell you what i want it to look and feel like. i know that i want my life to be one roaring, divine, wild song. but i don’t know what that is going to look like. and that’s okay. i am drawing up that map. i am figuring that out. i am pinponting the places that are Home for me and letting those be my resting place instead of the measly camp that fear invites me to live in.
i have stopped demanding to be sure about things and to have them a certain way. and i have dropped the idea of there ever being a box complete enough to hold me. instead, i know now- there is no box, only skies with no writing on them. and this empty space on the map is all mine. all mine to do whatever i want with it.
and finally, i’ve begun to feel the excitement and the freedom that comes with it.
i’ve finally accepted the responsibility of charting my course and my place in this wild wild land.
PS if there’s anyone who you think is struggling with adjusting to this new landscape of unknown and might benefit from a new perspective, i invite you to share it + hug them tight. pass the love forward.