Inside my box I wake,
With a groan, a sigh, a day to take,
I pull the blankets up above my head,
But I must rise, for goodness sake
I’m struggling at the moment. With purpose, direction, and sense of self. I’m tired of going around in circles. I have bursts of determination and then I get so worn out. I begin to feel pathetic because I can’t just stick to my guns. The longer I leave my gifts at rest the more frustrating it becomes when I try to revisit them. As a child I was considered bright, artistic, full of potential. I was left to my own devices and I read, wrote, painted, and practiced my drawing. It all came so naturally to me then. Teachers told me how clever I was, and I never truly learned the skills I needed in that educational setting because I appeared to know what to do. I put myself in situations above my head, and I failed. I didn’t know where to go from there. Rather than fighting for what I wanted, I changed my dreams. I pulled them down, packed them up, and put them in a box labelled “Not Smart Enough”.
The thing is, I know I am smart. I just can’t seem to function in the modern education system. Put me back in the days of the great philosophers and I am certain I would have excelled. Back when you took an apprenticeship and learned life from there. It wasn’t about well structured essays, cramming in content within a 12 week period, and exams. I understand that life is not simple, and often fast paced, but it does have an ebb and flow pace that this 12 week system does not. I struggle to understand how one can consume all that information in such a short period and truly understand it. I like to contemplate, and understand, not recite and regurgitate.
My mind is my biggest burden. I am trapped between what I should do to survive, and what makes me happy. On top of that having an invisible illness that limits my energy means that most of my life is geared towards the survival part, not the fire within. My fire is quiet right now, just a cluster of embers and hot stones. I have visions of what I could do, of what I could be, with the lurking shadow of responsibility. I’m 30. I have to pull it together. Do the family thing. Pay the bills. Stop daydreaming. Look at all these successful people around you. See how clever they are at collecting coins. See how happy they are following the system. You? Your life is just passing you by. Snippets of your truth appear when your body graces you the energy to pursue your happiness. A breadcrumb trail slowly weaves its way through life, and you hungrily devour the scraps. At times they seem to disappear, only to reappear further down the trail.
People say you just need to choose happiness, like it is so easy. Trust me, I try that method. I try and put a smile on my face, but it becomes a grim face of determination to make it through the day unscathed. I pray in the morning, I spend time with God. What a horrible Christian I must be if I am so unhappy with life. What you may not understand is that I know I owe all my happiness to him. Through all the hardship I have faced, He has kept me alive. At times the only reason I have clung on. Make no mistake, there have been many times that I was so close to the edge.
I’m still not really sure what my purpose is. I know what makes me happy, I know what I do that makes other people happy, and I have to assume that within this are the gifts I’ve been given for this life. My path is ahead of me, ready and waiting. My golden thread is weaving through the vast tapestry, and though the shadows cover it in darkness right now, I need to trust the gold will glimmer again. I have to put the when and the how in God’s hands and continue to seek His guidance. It always works out best when I do.
I have good people in my life who love and understand me. I have learned to put up boundaries for those who do not, and I am learning each day to be better at letting go the opinions of those who try to put me in their own boxes. It has been a lifelong journey changing the perception of “you’re weird” and “you’re different” to be positive to me, regardless of how it was intended. My friends and family use it as a term of endearment, but for a long time it was also hurled at me in insult, hoping to break my spirit. Fitting in never really suited me. I could do it for a few months, but my spirit would sink and I’d begin to feel so alone. It is better that I own my weirdness, and use it to my advantage.
I often feel like there are two of me; the strong and confident woman, the one who is smart, charismatic, and who could take over the world if she put her mind to it. And then there is the scared little girl, afraid of drawing too much attention to herself, just trying to slip through life like a shadow. It’s a gamble as to who comes out each day, though it does rely heavily on who is around me. Perhaps the little girl is there to keep me humble. Often she is the little voice who makes me feel guilty for being the strong one, for being so arrogant as to think I have some kind of importance, and some kind of value. The little girl shackles me. She is not my potential, and yet somehow she wins and is more persuasive than the warrior. She speaks to my fears, to my uncertainties, to my desire for people to take me seriously. She is the reason I have stopped doing so many things over the years. When I finally find a way to return the shackles to her I know that I will achieve so much. But I will always keep her, because it serves me well to be humble.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening to my existential ramblings. I hope you can relate in some way, even if it is just a comfort to know you are not alone in not knowing where your life is going. If your goals are just to survive, that’s ok. If your goals seem so unattainable, know you’re not the only one to feel that way. I don’t have the answers for how to fix that, other than to grit your teeth and ask yourself if it is worth it. Are you prepared to go through the fire yet? And if not, that’s ok. Keep looking for the opportunity and the will to go through the fire. I have hope that we will make it through at the precise moment we’re meant to, even if it is not clear when that moment will arise.