Set Yourself Free

It’s been a long time (I feel) since I’ve talked about my time in Africa. In college, I talked about it a lot and was often teased about it. It’s a precious time in my memory, an important part of my adolescence, and a strong connector between my mom, sister, and I. I’m reading Glennon Doyle’s recent book Untamed and as I was underlining and annotating, I wrote “set yourself free”. Flash back to Summer 2005, post Carnivore feast, in a mutatu with two very slap-happy chaperones. Cue singing.

You just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don’t need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free. Hop on the bus, Gus. You don’t need to discuss much. Just drop off the key, Lee. And get yourself free.

Thank you, Paul Simon. (And MJS and EDH)

Mind you, conversation quickly turned to the fact that the song never gives you more than 5 ways to leave your lover. And shouldn’t we come up with the other 45….but I digress.

Though there have been points of hiatus, I’ve been pretty open about my dating forays on this platform. Online dating sucks in general, but it is especially tricky in a COVID world. Ghosting is real, and the lamest thing in the world. In a world that already gives you security behind a screen, you’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to type “Hey, I’m not interested. Best of luck.” Alas, often that is too much. It’s not something I will ever understand. Especially from people who claim to value honesty and vulnerability. But the lesson I suppose it those aren’t my people. Easy to hear, harder to embrace.

Though there have been some short term successes, there have also been disappointments, bizarre occurrences, and stories that now make me giggle. I’m not sure what my online dating takeaway is at this point. One thing that continually rings true is this “just be you”. That’s all I can be, and in a world that calls us screams at us to be anything but ourselves, this is a mantra I try and hold fast to as much as possible. Not everyone is going to understand your decisions. And on the flip side, you won’t always understand the decisions of others. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, and thus they don’t owe you one in return. But what I do know is this: if the person and the relationship (friendship, family, romantic) is important enough then the “why” is important to share. So as I wade through thoughts of self-doubt and confusion of wtf happened, I come back to this: that relationship did not and does not define me. I am my own person and I am pretty amazing. I have much to offer to someone, but it has to be the right someone. And that will happen when it happens. That doesn’t make my current life any less fulfilling or fulfilled. It’s time to concentrate on the positives, the life-giving things, the people and moments that truly matter. Sure, I’m still on dating apps. Sure, I’m still open to being set up on dates. Sure, I want to find love some day. But none of that means my life as it is right now needs to stop, or that I need to lose focus on family commitments, my job, school, friendships, my creativity. There is so much more in life that demands or warrants my attention right now. And so, the words ring true, I will set myself free. (Glennon Doyle talks about freedom in many forms in Untamed).

  • I have a family that loves me, supports me, and brings me joy.
  • I have a close circle of friends who get my whole self, and give their whole selves in return.
  • And among that close people there are an even smaller few who keep checking in on me: sending me funny memes, creating playlists, reminding me of my worth, holding space for my emotions (and boy can that be a roller coaster).
  • I have a job that provides for me, and especially during the pandemic it is something I refuse to take for granted.
  • I have the opportunity to grow my mind through grad school, and apply it to current and future endeavors.
  • Followed closely by the amazing people in my cohort, seriously. These people are a force and keep me laughing in way no one else can.
  • I’m alive, and force my body to get up and move every day, it’s my own kind of medicine to be active and outside for at least a short time each day.
  • There’s a lot of talent in this being of mine: creativity, humor, helpfulness, compassion, etc. I am not any less because someone (or some people) choose not to be a part of my story. **Says to herself on repeat** It’s a good mantra, albeit longer than most.
  • I have a lot to offer: to my friends, to my community, to the world, to potential partners, the kids I work with (no matter their age, they are all kids to me).
  • Music and quotes. Because those will always speak to my soul, no matter its current condition. There is music for every mood, there is a quote for every emotion.
  • Introspection, the ability to process and work through the tough sh*t. You find you more and more each day. And what a blessing that it. Learn, child, keep learning.
  • And so, so, so many more. Because if you just look, you can find so much positive in your life. Even when things feel horrible, or you question yourself, or you’ve been hurt, or things seem not so bright and shiny. Make a list. There’s more than you realize. And I will continue to move toward the things that are positive, not discounting all of the other feelings because they need to be felt too. But knowing that there is more than the way someone else’s actions made me feel.
Among many others, this has been on my “get over it” playlist, lovingly called “effs” on Spotify

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