I sat on a park bench with an old friend, smoking a cigarette and staring at the mountains in the distance. A lot of things had changed in both of our lives since the first time we met in 2005. We’d both since quit smoking, moved homes, changed partners, had kids, made new friends and gotten new hobbies… We were different people, and yet still the very same. Sharing an old bad habit that we both loved back in our day was a comforting walk down memory lane for us both, even with the risk of cancer. After we brushed our teeth and remembered why we gave up smoking in the first place, I got to thinking about how odd it was that I was in BC visiting with friends who were in my life for such a brief period of time, and who I hadn’t even seen in 6 years! I’d certainly let go of friendships that were much longer, so what was so special about these friends? When I asked my friend what she thought, she said that maybe it was because when we met we were all going through some really big changes in our lives, some really hard and confusing times and that those things bonded us. They say that the stress of disaster brings people together. For me, this makes perfect sense. When we met I was lost, depressed and felt like a total failure at life in general. I was a walking train wreck. Our program was 5 days a week, and we spent entire days together in class, studying or hanging out at a greasy bar called Smilin’ Jack’s. (FYI: I like to say I named my son after Jack Johnson, but really it’s secretly because I loved this bar!) The friendship we shared got us through our tough times. We laughed and cried, ate a lot of Swiss Chalet and drank a TON of boxed wine. We survived together.
This last reunion has me thinking about things we hold on to, and things we toss. The importance of both holding on, and letting go. This has been focus for me these past few years. When I turned 30 I decided that without a doubt, I was going to figure out how to make myself a happier person. Except, I didn’t actually know how to do that, or where to even start. I guess I didn’t even know what that even meant, but man, I was determined. I figured that the best way to start a big task, especially one you weren’t really sure how to accomplish, was to take a tally of what you had VS what you’d need to get to the end goal. I started there. Operation Sort Through the Shit. Weed out the bad, keep the good. What makes me happy, what doesn’t. I have spent the last 4 years of my life sorting things into piles to keep, and piles to throw away, and I’ve done a pretty good job at it. I had no idea that this sorting was actually related to the goal of being happier. I was pretty sure I was just wasting time.
When I got back from my reunion trip, I realized how different I was as a person. How this time, I wasn’t going to these friends to cry about how lost or sad I was. I’m not sad or mad or unhappy anymore. Not at all. It was a real struggle to find things to be pissed off about, which I guess made me realize that maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to get my shit together. It’s a miraculous discovery for me really, to see that although it feels like I’m standing still, not getting anything of value accomplished, that maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m actually moving forward with my life. That all the time I’ve put into thinking about the people and things that are important to me, has helped me to figure out where I’m going with what I’ve got. I haven’t been idle at all. I have been doing “The 30’s Sort.” What to keep. What to throw away. The best part is, that the sort has actually helped me to be happier. Much happier. That of course was my original goal!
If I were to write a list of things I’m keeping and things I’m throwing away it would go something like this:
- My husband. The person who has stood by me for years. He isn’t without fault, nor is he perfect, but he’s perfect for me.
- My kids – obvious reasons here. They’re my heart.
- My people – I won’t say family here, because as I’ve learned, family has nothing to do with blood relations. I’ve learned in tremendously hard ways who to count as my people. Included are the humans who love, support and accept me for who I am. They are the people who I know I can count on, and who can always count on me in return.
- My friends – All of them. I’ve learned that we need all sorts of friends in our lives. From our besties from birth all the way to the girlfriends we see every few years. Friendships have been a saving grace in my life.
- My values and beliefs – I change my mind often, but I never alter my core beliefs about what is right and wrong. If I believe something isn’t right, I’ll always say so, no matter who I offend. I know it’s sometimes easier to brush things off, but if I’ve learned one thing about myself, it’s that I’m just not that woman. If you hurt me, my family or my friends or if you are being a jackass in general, I will say something. Always.
- My gut instincts – I’m Keeping those, as I believe everyone should. The only times I’ve ever had issues with people or in situations, it is because I didn’t follow my instincts. I know what’s best for me. I trust myself the most.
Things to Toss:
- Self doubt – I’m done thinking I can’t. So done, I won’t even elaborate on this one anymore. Enough said.
- Worries about my body image – I’ve spent years hating everything about my body. Starving it, abusing it, crying over it. What a waste of time. I will continue to be healthy, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pass up beers with my friends, dinners out, chocolate when I’m PMSing… I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be. In fact, no one is! I have been stick thin and I was miserable. I’d rather be happy. Thanks but no thanks unrealistic body images.
- Worries that I’m not achieving enough – Time to throw out all of the unrealistic notions of what I should be accomplishing and on what timeline. Every time I’ve ever done things that I thought other people wanted me to do, I’ve ended up miserable. I don’t have to be a doctor or a mad scientist (that would be fun though) to have value. Right now I’m at home, taking care of my family and helping my husband with his business, and that’s enough. I don’t plan on doing this the rest of my life, but right now, this is where I’m at, and I’m good with that. My time will come.
- Blame – I’m done passing off my own short-comings on others. I’ve made and continue to make choices in life. No one is to blame for where I am, who I am or what I’m doing in my life. It’s always easier to blame someone else, but I choose what to accept and what to change. I am responsible for how my life turns out.
- People who are assholes: I guess there are better ways to say this, but this is the way that best suits me. I’m seriously done with assholes. The catty, gossipy women, the ungrateful, the arrogant, the inconsiderate, the jealous and the spiteful. Be gone! Instead of being angry and raving mad over the assholes of the world, I’m letting them go. I just don’t have that kind of time anymore. If I can’t handle even talking to you because you’re such an asshole, I won’t and I’m not sorry about it.
I don’t know where I’ll go from here…but I’m currently working on a few plans. I’ve stressed and stressed about the what when and how of my next move, but I have faith that good things will come, as long as I’m open to them. In the meantime, I just need a little more sorting to make space for different experiences and opportunities… It won’t be long now!