On Reliance and Trust

Life has a way of finding new things to surprise us with and to shake things up to keep us on our toes. They can be small and feel inconsequential in the moment. Others are bigger and have an immediate effect on how you see the world. I’m in the midst of one of those bigger life surprises. 

I wonder if anyone has ever said, “This is the perfect time for a big life-altering shake-up?” Maybe, but those people are weird. When a core pillar has been removed from your life, everything begins to feel a bit unstable. For a moment, you can begin to wonder what else may shift out from under you. I, for one, am a big fan of solid ground and stability mixed in with some spontaneity I control the intake of. 

I do not like being in need or asking for help. I don’t mean in the small or obvious things that any sane person would need assistance with (e.g. “can you hold the door for me?” when your hands are full or “can you grab the other side of this huge couch and bring it up those three flights of stairs? Pivot!”) It’s the bigger and less tangible areas where your insides are reaching out for a hand to grasp so as to not fall off a cliff. It’s those moments when you feel weak, helpless, or otherwise lost. 

It’s been rare for me to feel like I truly have to rely on others. No, my life role (as discussed in other posts) is to be the helper, the stable one who people come to for insights, a listening ear, or a helping hand. I don’t feel comfortable needing assistance and not feeling as self-sufficient as I usually do. This side of the table doesn’t feel nearly as safe. 

However, I’ve also learned recently that my reluctance to put myself out there and to rely on friends and family is a habit I need to break. It’s also time that I learn how to take more risks. Earlier this year, I wrote about living in a space with no promises. Right now is an extension of that life lesson I’m painfully learning about. Sometimes we need to be beaten over the head with really big stuff to learn a lesson we’re not picking up fast enough. 

I’m reminded that in the middle of those big changes and transitions into whatever is next while I’m waiting it out, I have enough. No more, no less. I’m not lacking for food or shelter. I have people looking out for me and who care about me, but I also have to ask for that help. Most of them are not mind readers. 

While I take a slight pause to breathe and reflect, I am also reminding myself it is OK to rest. Life will be there tomorrow, with all its worries and concerns. It is OK to process, to check things off the list one at a time. I don’t have to beat myself up for not having figured out what’s next. This in-between phase is messy and a little frustrating. The script isn’t complete, but that’s perfectly fine. The edits and rewrites are coming. I don’t know what will be written when I turn the page. I do know the next chapter will turn out exactly how it needs to. I need to trust in that before I drive myself crazy from worry.

No Promises

This is the crux, the core, of so much hesitation in my life. There are no guarantees afforded to us. But I always want more of what isn’t available: More stability, more reliability, no bad surprises. That level of expectation is, of course, is folly and pure madness to chase after such levels of security and predictability. Perhaps it is that excitement, joy, and real living are found at the edges, in that space where we’re taken beyond our comfortable spaces. Those parts we’re afraid to expose to anyone else, maybe even to ourselves.

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Identity Discovery

Every year around the sun brings with it a multitude of opportunities, but the most important one to me these last few years is taking the time to understand myself better, explore those things that I connect with, what doesn’t, and express what’s on my mind and heart through outlets like this blog. Intentionally or not, I have often found myself alone on the journey which provides (more than?) ample time to think, reflect, overthink, and act. In a world that creates so much noise, the solitude isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As it’s been in previous years, I struggle with finding ways to summarize a whole year of my life into one post. What parts should I share about publicly on this platform? What am I comfortable sharing? Can I be vulnerable enough to go deeper than I have before? Is there anything about my life that is useful to others? Was there a common thread tying everything together?

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Your Presence is Requested

“Presence with others is first about showing up.”

Presence (Amy Cuddy)

Who are the most important and influential people in your life? Growing up, very likely it was the friends and family who you were around and see on a regular basis. They showed up for birthday parties and graduations. You hung out in each other’s homes just doing whatever, sometimes nothing in particular. Simply being around each other was enough. In high school, college, and into your 20s, regularly being around people this was often still the determining factor in who you were close to and you mattered to you. That setting could be a school, church, or your job.

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On Vulnerability

Definition: “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded”

(courtesy of Merriam-Webster)

At an undetermined point during my youth, I made a decision. Being an INFP and generally anti-confrontation and avoidant of difficult or painful situations, I became more intentional about trying not to put myself in places where I could be hurt or emotionally wounded by others. What better way to avoid pain than by avoiding activities that could involve pain? So what if some of those same activities also had the opportunity for real connection, warmth, love, and healing? Guess I missed out.

The goal was to protect me from any more pain.

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Open Seating

Well before I got interested in photography, I always found myself drawn to empty spaces, to those quiet places. The ones most enticing are those found against the loudest of backdrops. They pull me in with their temptations of possibilities and of unheard and overlooked stories. It’s in the stillness which listening is best done.

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The Art of Miscommunication

In the last few years, the written word has gained increasing importance in how we connect and communicate with people. As we rely on writing over speaking because we all have come to hate phone calls because… reasons. And because we also don’t live in a TV world where friends decide to meet up to chat about the most mundane and vital of topics, we are left with text messages, instant messaging, emails, etc. The problem is we can be terrible at saying what we mean.

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Meh sign face

Header image: visual approximation of my feelings in January 2018.

When our daily routines are interrupted, we begin to notice all the things we take for granted. Physical ailments, in particular, remind us that we are not impervious and have limitations. This past month, I’ve been dealing with (a very manageable and mostly pain-free) tooth problem. As soon as the problem surfaced and before I could make it into the dentist for a diagnosis and plan, I took preventative measures in my diet to avoid foods that are crunchy, chewy, sticky or fun in any way. I also only ate on the other side of my mouth. While I’ve slowly regained enough confidence to eat more normally, the first few weeks were taken with tender bites of softer food and filled with non-trivial amounts of yogurt and soup.

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