“Just trust me,” that’s what my friend John said as I gave him that look. The background was the face of a woman in mustard yellow and pale pink lips. He framed the shot then showed it to me. Damn, the face that stared back at me was such a bad-ass. That was our joke for the rest of the day.
She was bold and confident, and the best part was that she was me.
It’s often easy to miss moments like these - when we let our ego and conclusions get in the way of possibilities. By saying yes in that moment, I was also saying that I was OK at not having all the answers. The world wouldn’t end just because I didn’t the all the answers. The cool thing was that it allowed John to showcase his eye for detail and the obvious result was my bad-ass photo. I mean, why hire a photographer if you’re not going to use their talent right?
Conclusions are limiting stories we tell ourselves that give away our power to create change. To continue the cycle of being a victim to society, circumstances, people or an event. Some stories and narratives takes years to build - often spanning different milestones, lovers or situations. Layers upon layers of life lessons tangled in insecurities, disappointments and emotional burden. I mean, yeah those things happened in my life, but I’m so much more than just feeling feelings.
Last night I went to a birthday dinner and drinks with a group of women I don’t normally hang out with. In a small town like mine, there’s usually two degrees of separation, and yeah I knew a few of the women there through other circles. Though light-hearted, the conversation would often revert back to love - seeking, having and sometimes hating on love and the ‘perilous gauntlet’ of dating (cue Rocky theme song for added effect). The stories were mostly hilarious anecdotes of embarrassing dates and surviving social awkwardness.
Ours were just honest conversations by ordinary women in different stages of their lives. One advice that stuck with me was from the camp mother of the group. She told us the story of how she moved to the UK with her boyfriend - she was excited for the adventure ahead while he dreaded leaving his life in New Zealand. You can guess that their experiences were very different - she was open to the opportunities of a new environment, while he was focused on what he thought he was missing out on.
They are no longer together, and she seems very happy with her new partner. I plan to meet up with her for coffee, she’s definitely someone who’s lived and her past dating stories had us all in stitches.
There’s nothing wrong with knowing where you came from: The struggles, the wins, the lessons - but make sure to live for the person that you are now. An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards, and how far you soar depends on how much you are willing to let go.
How do you let go is what you’re asking, right? Decide, that’s right, decide to let go. It’s that simple. The process is unique for each journey, and here are three things that’s worked for me.
I take responsibility for my own happiness and allow others to take responsibility for theirs. What it means is that each genuine connection that stays in my life is the icing on an already awesome cake. I accept constructive criticism but not projected insecurities in my journey. I’m learning how to tell the difference, and if I get it wrong sometimes, that’s OK too. As Miles Kingston puts it - knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Other people’s opinion of me is none of my business. Let’s make this clear though, people in my inner circle have my love and respect, and their opinion of me matters. I’m talking about those who watch me from afar, like on social media. Yeah having a public profile opens you up to that big time. I made that choice. Everyone has an opinion about me, but I don’t let them influence my self-image because it’s just that...an opinion.
Breathe. No, it’s not just a reflex. I’m learning that I hoard stresses and negative feelings by holding them in. Deep breathes and exhales helps prevent me from stockpiling troubles or obsessing about irrelevant things. Plus all that extra oxygen in my system helps me think clearly and see that this moment too will pass.
Best of all, do your best to surround yourself with people that will help you to look ahead - to be excited about your life. Take it from me, progress builds momentum when you take action, no matter how small. Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right. Those are wise words from Henry Ford. He knew what he was talking about.
Photos by John Morin aka The Wanderlust Pilgrim