We love it – we love to be SEEN and NOTICED. We have been conditioned to strive for recognition and reward. It starts when we are teeny tiny and grows into this monster of promotions, INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS, blog subscribers and hey… if you are one of those awesome intellectuals, I hear being published is kind of a thing too.
When I was younger, I received accolades throughout my childhood and teenage years, as most of us did. I was either student of the month/year in elementary school, Miss Teen Congeniality, on the Honor Roll or receiving an award in cheerleading.
I lived for it. I would find the things that did not require much work on my end, but that could give awards of excellence. I think that was my true skill, finding things I could barely skim the surface of, yet excel at (found out quickly that traditional sports were not going to do that for me).
While all the praise was flattering and exciting, it had been my goal. Those achievements were what I worked hard for. I also worked hard to be offered opportunity. I was offered a Youth Group Staff position at the end of my Senior Year and a Cheer Coaching position. The offers were enough, that was validation for me that I was “making it.”
Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time living for big moments. All else seemed trivial. Perhaps this is where my need to be married and have children came from, or my longing to always get a promotion at work (or maybe why cosmetology was not my jam – I needed to be promoted and not self-promoted).
That is it though, I felt that I NEEDED to be promoted. I had this deep belief that promotions told my friends and family I was doing well. It proclaimed to the world that I was progressing in life and all their hard work and prayer and money was worth it.
It told them I was worth it.
The proof was in the trophy, in the accolade.
Then the awards ended. I was faced with myself and myself alone, I had dropped out of college, I was behind in beauty school (MMM…WHAT?!) and just lost my one hope for an early marriage and family. I had gained weight, had barely enough money to eat without the help of my parents and I felt like I had let it all go.
“I had the life,” I thought. I could have been on the path everyone worked hard for me to be on. The path everyone encouraged and gave me awards for. Yet here I am, depressed and struggling to merely wake up every day. I was so ashamed.
I didn’t recognize myself and it was not until I moved back to San Diego, that I realized, I never really had.
My reflection looked different every day. Every day, I felt that I was more or less worthy of being in this world, of having the family and friends that I do. I had this black and white ideal – these rules that told me whether or not I was “making it” or “pretty” or a “good person.”
And the way I viewed others changed just as much as how I viewed myself.
It’s odd… you know, that my insecurity came from something meant to be great and uplifting. It is as if every award only told me I needed another. It told me that THIS is what will tell me if I “measured up.” What could have been a nice pat on the back – became what I lived for. Receiving affirmation from others was life to me. Finding their expectation and determining I had to meet it. I had to be praised.
When I was not anymore. When I was no longer on the road to be a journalist, not the thinnest girl around, not the Bible study leader and not the one that prayed over every person (usually out of wanting to be that “good Christian”) I believed I was never going to BE enough.
And that lie, it transcended every relationship, every date, every friendship, every fear I had regarding work and love, it even transcended the way I approach kindness and love with others.
It told me I could never live up to it. I was destined for tears and crying myself to sleep.
Through therapy and close, intimate friends and the love of my family, getting up in the morning felt worth it again. Then living felt worth it and life felt worth it and hard work… it took time. Learning that and continually grounding myself in that, will be work I put in for life, because I find that the layers continue.
What I can declare right now, what I hope you can declare is that:
I believe I am enough no matter what. That I am created so specifically and have the option to show up in my innate contribution right now.
But the lie lately, has to do with the awards and the trophies. I never let that go. I never let go the promotions and having others have reason to toast to me. I hadn’t fully accepted that I am not on the road to marriage and children. I still wanted those “big” moments. I constantly want to move across or out of the country, switch jobs until I am excelling (instead of pushing through). The list… the expectations and devastation were weighty and clung to me.
Then, I (divinely) realized…
Perhaps it is the small moments that are sacred. Perhaps it is the everyday… the “mundane.”
The days of awards and promotions and sashes, are only a handful in this lifetime. Yet they are what I have subconsciously lived for.
What if I simply embraced the getting up, getting ready, morning coffee, quiet hours in my studio by myself, loud moments with my friends and family. The sacred space of showing up at work, following through with commitments to friends, the sacred space of LAUGHTER and learning… of writing.
You see... I love the sacred. It is a connection to God. To our Divine... yet while I have known that He is everywhere, I dismissed knowing Him through those seemingly boring things.
What would happen, if every day was treated as sacred? What if the small moments, were actually the big ones?
This is my challenge in life right now. To enjoy the sacred in these mundane things. These connectors.
It doesn’t come overnight (most great things don’t). First, we have to put the work in and decide what is sacred. I have a few questions I asked myself, that I will introduce at the end (hoping we can explore this together). I mean, you can’t take my word on something that is as valuable, as life giving and altering as that. Doing the work for yourself is hard, but so worth it. But I am right there with you!
I can tell you the greatest thing I find to be sacred in this world…is people. I hope that even if you take one ounce of this post with you, it is that. That your relationships in this world, are most sacred.
While I am realizing the transition of my community, I still see how important those I have communed with up until now has been. They are full of so much worth and value, and are what I consider gold in my life.
Anybody willing to share words, space, time with me – THEY are sacred in my life.
And if you have a community you deem “yours,” you know… the people you deem “your people.” The ones that just get you and are there for 2 am phone calls. Yeah, that is extraordinary and is SO sacred (call me at 2 am anytime, babe!)
AND GUESS WHAT?! SO MUCH IS!
We LIVE. We wake up, have thought, learn, feel… I used to think this was merely existing, but it is called LIVING. And it is HUGE and ABUNDANT and such a GIFT!
THAT is sacred to me. My God is, my family is, my friends are… the strangers are. This world is.
You see… it took me a while, but I am embracing it. Embracing that I may never have the monumental, I may always lean and press into celebrating the everyday. Declaring it to be life, to be the “big thing” in life.
Have you been there? Are you there? Are you ahead of me?
No matter what, we are in it together. (Sorry, babe! If you got this far… we are now besties. Besties are sacred too, don’t worry!)
Really, though, this has been a huge lesson for me. To really see that it is all sacred. I won’t lie, it has brought some grief. Grief that perhaps, the things I had deemed to be “big” will not come (or the things I had been expecting). Letting go of the moments I used to strive for, to be praised over and to rest in the unexpected, rest in the everyday.
Striving is exhausting. I gave up perfectionism (you can read about that here) and thought the striving went with it, this revelation taught me that I hadn’t. It taught me that I might be relinquishing it every day. But guess what?! (YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY GUESS…) perhaps THAT is sacred as well.
Actually, it IS… it DEFINITELY is!
Why do I believe that?! I asked a few questions…
What do I believe I am on this earth for?
What specifically do I LOVE about life. The bare bones life… what about it speaks to my soul?
When am I MOST at rest? What am I doing, who am I with?
WHO am I? At my core, what are my “I am’s?”
What lies are keeping me from seeing and believing my answer to number four?
Just start writing, let your heart bleed onto your paper and let the healing begin. YOU ARE SO WORTH IT. Your contribution is prized and valued and held so lovingly in this world. The gift of yourself that you offer family and strangers and friends and significant others’ has NOTHING to do with your achievements and EVERYTHING to do with WHO you are. Your actions don’t define this because it is YOU.
SO GO. LIVE. SOAK IN THE SACRED AND LOVE with an abandon like never before. Have grace for the process.
I also have one more thing…
I just hopped off the Coaster (a local train that transports people along the coast of San Diego) and there was a nineteen year old boy across from me. He was on a trip with one of the local Boys and Girls Clubs. Let’s call him Ethan.
Ethan let me know that he was a part of the program for the adults with disabilities. It is a transitional program, to teach them skills to transition into what we deem “adult life” (glorious, right?!) I asked him what he was good at. He said he was good at asking deeper questions. He let me know that when he feels an emotion, he is good at stopping and asking what he is feeling, when the feeling started and what memory triggered such a reaction within himself.
I nearly cried and hugged him and congratulated him, but I realized that perhaps that would be crossing a line.
So I let him know that he is more advanced than most people I know (not including you… obviously).
That him being willing to ask hard questions, to put in the work and decide that he and others is worth it… is monumental. It is the essence of contribution.
That is divine. That is sacred, for sure.
We can’t discredit these moments. They teach us, they make us learners and friends.
Ethan is living out the sacred life. Acknowledging that inner work happens at all times and that pausing long enough to see that, to embrace it – is worth while. That HE is worth while. The gift of seeing this beautiful life and people more intently is worth it and it is a point of thankfulness.
So thankful for him and all of you. Thanks for letting me share my heart… again!