AI image, "Painting of a woman growing roots out of a cherry blossom tree sunset"
Your life is your spiritual path. Don’t be quick to abandon it for bigger and better experiences. You are getting exactly the experiences you need to grow. If your growth seems to be slow or uneventful for you, it is because you have not fully embraced the situations and relationships at hand. To know the self is to allow everything, to embrace the totality of who we are—all that we think and feel, all that we fear, all that we love.
— adrienne maree brown
Lately, I've been thinking about my early youth. There were times where I thought I couldn't possibly handle the pain and anger anymore. The rage of my body being violated, the confusion from all the family drama and secrecy, the deep insecurity I felt about myself and my worth. Despite the constant stress and emotional turbulence I faced every day, I found solace in knowing that there was so much more to life than what felt wrong and bad. And I saw evidence for this as the days went by.
Hugging and touching myself in front of the mirror, learning about pleasure and how to be intimate on my own. Being touched by quotes, poems, sunsets, the smiles on people's faces, acts of kindness in the streets. My classmates working through conflicts when I was chosen to be a 12-year-old peer mediator by teachers who saw my potential. My high school choir teacher choosing me for a singing solo because she also saw potential in me. The lightbulb of passion and insight turning on in my first psychology class as a teenager.
I couldn't deny these beautiful moments that were also present in my life, which would transcend whatever I was going through at home. My sensitivity to life led me to a deep sense of hope and promise in a better future. Tears flowing down my face, I would tell my friends about this potential I felt in life. "Just 5 years ago, we were 10 years old. And look at us now in high school, more mature than we were back then. Imagine 5 years from now, we'll be 20 years old! Isn't that amazing?! We can do so much!"
At that time, I didn't know I would spend parts of my late teens and early 20s caught in the middle of my parents' brutal divorce process, having chronic stress from no money in the bank, being homeless, recovering from traumatizing drug trips and unhealthy dependency on cannabis, falling asleep behind the wheel and totaling my car, being unable to work and losing over 30 pounds from a chronic stomach illness.
Yet I also didn't know that my mid-late 20s would also consist of finding my voice as an undergrad college student leader, becoming an advocate and activist on many different fronts, writing chapters for books on media activism and speaking at conferences, getting my master's degree in organizational change and development, and then running a wellness and restorative justice center at a high school where I impacted hundreds of young lives. I would dream of doing work like this, and here I was.
When I got the call that I got the job for the Wellness and Restorative Justice Coordinator at this high school, I was honestly shocked. I asked the school administrator why they chose me over the other people I was interviewing with who were clearly more qualified and experienced. She told me that they were so touched by my passion. "We've honestly never seen someone so sincere and serious about making a difference in young children's lives," she said.
I've come to trust my passion. It's helped me get through the worst of times, seeing the unconditional goodness of life no matter what. It's helped me manifest wonderful opportunities for growth and discovery. Yet all along my journey, I beat myself up relentlessly. I always felt like I was never "there" yet. I was never satisfied with my process, always feeling like I should be "better." I doubted I would ever amount to anything, and then would be surprised when I did. It was like this toxic addiction to being surprised by own potential.
I once heard a saying that who you needed to be to survive might be different than who you need to be to heal and thrive. Although passion saved me and will always be an effortless part of who I am, I'm becoming more clear of a main quality that I haven't fully developed yet: patience.
Let grace meet you here in the mystery, and remind you deep within it, you are not lacking anything. No matter the amount of times you have been made to feel that you were too much or not enough, none of the moments take you away from who you truly are, and the wisdom and the strength that has continued to grow strong within you.
Pay attention to the things that do not consume your mind the way they used to. Make note of the places in your life where you have learned to be more patient than you were years ago. These things may not seem like much, but they matter more than you know. They point to the beautiful reality that even here, you have continued to grow.
— Morgan Harper Nichols
Being patient is challenging for me. Patience requires that we accept and respect limits. Yet the flip side of the coin is that it frees us from forcing or trying so hard, which is often counterproductive. Patience is a trust and commitment to the process, vs. the outcome. It tames idealism. It's the natural way of life, which has its own mysterious timing and unfolding based on the right conditions.
Everything we attempt, everything we do, is either growing up as its roots go deeper, or it’s decomposing, leaving its lessons in the soil for the next attempt.
― adrienne maree brown
I've been feeling tested lately with my current work at a nonprofit where I'm further stepping into my creative voice and leadership. I feel impatient with myself. Given the challenging information we share with the world, I feel more outside of my comfort zone than ever before when it comes to feeling capable and confidence in myself. I want to "be there" already without having to go through trials, errors, and learning curves. I want to have everything figured out now. This goes for every area of my life right now, and I keep wondering why I even think this way given that it's so irrational.
For a long time, I didn't start shuffle dancing because I was afraid of the learning process. Yet all it took was one moment for me to get up and learn one footwork combo. And then I eventually learned another move. I could only do the running man for 10 seconds before I would totally be out of breath and feel dejected. My brain was so confused by the coordination and left-right brain communication needed to shuffle. I hated that I was a beginner. I'll never forget what my mentor in grad school once told me: "I would give anything to be a beginner again. Everything is so fresh, alive, and filled with possibility. Savor where you are now."
My shuffle dancing journey is yet another reminder of the organic learning process. Instead of being driven by narrow attention and urgent goals, I made a commitment late last year to just let myself dance and see where it takes me. Now, I'm doing dance moves I never thought I was able to do, compared to the early days. I'm moving with more depth, power, and distance. What used to feel unnatural and unfamiliar is now feeling natural and embodied to my body. Every moment of struggle and insight brought me to this point.
Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.
― Paulo Coelho
More than ever before, I'm bringing my fears to conscious awareness, and challenging these inner beliefs. I'm talking about these struggles with people I love and trust more. Although it's uncomfortable to articulate these fears, it's even more uncomfortable to be unconsciously ruled by them. So I'm a bit messy right now. I would even say fragile. My life is about to change in big ways, and the complexity inside my mind is real.
Just like my dancing journey, all I can do is take that next step, moment by moment. Allow myself and life to unfold as it will. Austrian-German poet Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote, "I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie." Foregrounding passion and patience, I wonder what will take shape. When I first got introduced to my dusty classroom filled with trash, dead spiders and scorpions at the high school, I didn't know that within a year I would have transformed it into a fully functioning wellness center. And that I would be creating wellness video announcements for about a thousand young ones every week. I just kept listening to my environment, following my intuitions and what felt good. It's time for me to channel this energy to my new situation, right now.
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
If you got all the way to the bottom of this, I appreciate you taking the time. I've been feeling deeply liberated with the dance sessions I've had this past week, so below are some highlights. Enjoy, Hive community!
- Ascending - M.O.S., Double Touch
- Sound 4 U x Be Mine - EMBRZ, Amy Rose
- Road - Lane 8
- Scarlett Groove - Maribou State, Saint Saviour