Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Is it just me, or does anyone else relive this scene from The Notebook, anytime they’re tasked with having to consider what they want…in life?
I recently talked about this with my therapist and couldn’t help but repeat asking and answering just as Noah and Allie did in this infamously beautiful moment of emotional tyranny. I was both, Noah and Allie, trying to decide what is it that I want. What do I want to do? What do I want to eat? How do I want to spend my time? Who do I want to give my attention to?
You get the idea.
At first, I thought the conversation would stay surface level because it really came from the recognition that I haven’t really done much, but not out of a desire to check out, but more out of a feeling of overwhelm or lack of general excitement.
There’s plenty I need to be doing. Plenty I could do just for fun. Plenty of options, even in a pandemic, smoke-filled world, but I have chosen, more often than not, to do very little and call it good. Now look, on the one hand, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing nothing right now. Everyone is experiencing trauma, whether they’re aware of it or not, this shit is affecting everyone. So I’m trying to give myself the grace of relaxing into moments and not force myself to work or produce when the world is going to shit.
That said, I’ve adapted relatively well to the world around me, and feel that maybe the nothingness needs to become something before I lose the ability to do simple things. Also, before I fall deep into avoidance, which is much harder to get out of than just dealing with the overwhelm of options.
So what am I saying?
I realized through some talk and introspection that I’ve become a product of someone else’s expectations. In my relationship, it wasn’t enough for me to want to do something different than what my partner wanted to do; he demanded an alternative experience, which I didn’t always have readily available to present to him. All I knew, most of the time, was what I didn’t want to do, or where I didn’t want to go, but instead that I wanted to be a little spontaneous and see what comes of it. This would eventually lead to us not being able to really do much of anything, and ultimately me doing nothing. In the wake of that relationship ending, I’ve been stuck trying to come up with a plan, but for what? It’s like I’ve been conditioned now to provide an alternate option, even though I’ve never experienced life in that way, especially when dealing only with myself and my choices.
It wasn’t just my relationship that set me up for ultimate failure though, it was also my work, and frankly: social media. If you’ve followed me long enough, you know I’ve battled with all forms of social media - our on-again/off-again relationship being the most toxic of them all. What I realized, and have very clearly seen recently, is that I often choose to start something for myself, but when it gains popularity, then I begin to feel obligated to continue the thing for whoever is indicating that it’s meant something to them. When I started my blog (the very first one: My Life in Draft), I did it to journal about what was going on in my life and to share stories with friends, because I was in school and thought it’d be easier that way. When I started my YouTube channel, it was for me to vent how I was feeling because I was too tired to keep up with the blogs. When I started the website, FB Business Page, IG, Periscope, etc…it was all because I wanted to have another outlet for my creativity, another way to express and share. They ALL eventually became things I felt I had to keep up with, things that required my attention, and those who were taking interest became people to whom I was obligated to create.
And then…inevitably, I don’t…create.
It’s stifling when there’s pressure to do something at a certain time and in a certain way. It actually blocks creativity, and also takes the joy out of doing the thing. Now, I know that I put this pressure on myself, and I know it’s up to me to keep the narrative straight and to hold a firm boundary to myself, for myself. But I also know, that reprogramming, un-conditioning, changing response patterns - that’s hard work. I’m here to do it, but it’s not easy.
So…what DO I want?
I want to get back to having unstructured time that allows me to tap into whatever is coming up for me at that very moment. I want to ask myself every time I’m at that crossroads - Echo, what do you want to do right now? And then be able to follow the desire. There is a specific part of my day that must remain structured, because I have to pay bills, but outside of that, I want to remove the notion that I NEED to do anything, and replace that with honoring what I WANT to do.
The choices I am making right now cannot come at the expense or sacrifice of, frankly, anything or anyone else. Part of my own journey is tapping into what brings me joy, what makes me feel fulfilled, and ultimately, how that fits when in partnership - friend, family, partner, or follower. If I’m supposed to use my mess as a message and let this land where it needs to, then I have to trust that I’m also supposed to model what’s healthy, or at the very least, demonstrate how not to stay in unhealthy patterns for very long.
I’m most fulfilled and confident with who I am when I get to balance structure and freedom; when I follow my metaphorical heart wherever it wants to go. I’ve lost sight of that somewhere, but slowly, I’m learning to see it again. Mostly, I recognize that to be able to answer the question: What do you want? I have to first know who I am.
Love and Light,