For as long as I could remember, life seemed to be fairly worked out. I knew where I was going. I knew where I had been. I knew who I was. I liked the predictability of it. That I was in control. Control being the most important part. And then, whoosh. That is the sound of the metaphorical carpet being ripped out from under me. Fast enough to leave carpet burn. If only I knew then that the carpet burn was going to be the least of my concerns.
The last few years have thrown me a curve ball that instead of landing in my catchers mitt, imploded on impact. I think the biggest realisation coming from said curveball is the fact that I had spent my life being fairly ignorant. Ignorant to the lack of control any of us has over most things. Ignorant that I thought I completely knew who I was at 29. Ignorant that I was living life as my most authentic self. Ignorant to just how powerful this big universe is that we have the pleasure of living in. Ignorant that the greatest love I shared with another could be tested beyond words. But undoubtedly the most ignorant to how much grey area is in our world.
To me, everything was always black and white. Logical. Added up. That’s why I think I fell into a career as a fashion planner easily. There was no room to interpret a number as anything but that number. It was the control freak in me, gravitating to something that fed my controlling needs. It’s only something I pondered, smirk on my face, as I sat chatting to my psychologist recently. As she always does, grin on her face, slight laughter in her voice, “What’s the smirk for?” “Oh you know, just that my controlling habit encroached on every part of my life. Seriously, a job as a planner? *rolls eyes*“ She laughed at me. Directly at me… “I love your eye rolls!” That’s what I loved about her. She didn’t feel like a therapist. She felt like a friend who would tell me how things were, help me through the rough shit but laugh with me and at me along the way. Only difference, she was charging for it.
The more I learn to let go of control and the entire concept of it; the more grey creeps in. And with more grey, comes more compassion. More vulnerability. More understanding. More patience. More of everything that makes me feel like a better human. I can undoubtedly say I was pretty fastidious pre curveball implosion. If it didn’t sit with my idea of thinking, it was wrong. I was forceful. Assertive, yes, which is a good thing, but assertion mixed with a small strain of bitch isn’t. Who knew? I was anxious that if I didn’t control everything down a tee, things would go horribly wrong. News flash, things go horribly wrong anyway. I’m that person in the car that sits in the passenger seat trying to dictate the fastest route and actually gets angry when the driver goes another way. Driver is usually my husband. Ill let you imagine how the trips usually end… silence, door slamming. You know. All the grown up stuff. Recently we were in the car together, a rarity inside the last year for reasons I will share later, and we missed our exit on the freeway. I turned around from speaking to our son just in time to see our exit sign. Laughing and pointing I said, “That was our exit” and without missing a beat my husband smiled and said, “Before, you wouldn’t have laughed at that. You would have got angry.” High five, sister!
It’s absolutely a work in progress but the awareness is now there and that’s half the battle. Now I can stop myself mid panic because ill be three minutes late to an appointment or mid/post losing my shit for any number of ridiculous reasons, no longer traffic incidents it appears, and realise none of it matters. Being aware to stop and breathe and get some perspective. I ain’t no Mother Teresa and I doubt I ever will be but I’m getting better and isn’t that all we can aim for? To better ourselves every day for the benefit of our relationships, our children, our friends, our community… but mostly, just for ourselves? To go to bed at night knowing you are growing as a person, that you are learning and changing and evolving? To me, that is success. I used to look at success as something long term, an acquisition, something I could touch. Getting the job you always wanted, buying the dream house, having the swanky car, not worrying about money. All those things society deems as success. I now realise that’s all bullshit. Success is living each day as honestly and as true to yourself as you can. Loving with an open heart. Doing what fills that space in your chest. Being better than you were the day before, whatever that means.
So, is it just me or could you do with a little more grey in your life too?