I used to think that I had to be and do everything in a specific way, in a specific order. I used to think there was some chronological timeline that I was supposed to follow even though I had no idea what it was. I tried to live my life the way it was expected to be lived: Do ‘this’ and don’t say ‘that.’
Then, it happened. I don’t remember how. I don’t remember when. Maybe it was a matter of all those days adding up, trying to do it all in some way I didn’t know how to do it. Or it could be that doing it all didn’t settle within me of being any way to actually do it. Looking back now, I know I just got tired. It’s the only way I know how to sum up all those parts that brought me to here and now.
One day I just gave up. I was tired of aimlessly trying to please those around me who told me which way was right. I grew exhausted trying to appease those closest to me who said they knew me better than anyone, when I knew it was the farthest from the truth. I knew who I wasn’t even though I wasn’t quite sure who I was. I still can’t be entirely certain about who I am but I know who I am becoming – and that’s who I hold onto the tightest.
Becoming takes letting go.
Letting go wasn’t an easy process. I wrestled with myself. I wrestled those around me. I learned over time, a lot of time, that wrestling is a sport that not everyone is built to do. It takes every ounce of might to come out on top and in the end, it never ends. There is always some other person, some other way, some other concept, idea, comment, dictation, precedence…and the list goes on.
All I could ever deduct was that I was my own person. Fighting the person I was and who I was expected to be was the most redundant process I have ever experienced. The redundancy began to feel like a washing machine stuck in motion…wash, stop, spin, stop, rinse, stop, spin, stop. But it never ended, it restarted and went through each one. Starting and stopping and never reaching any point where ‘done’ was an option. Broken and stuck on repeat, I decided to unplug it all. I had to come to my own silence to do it. I had to let go. The words I took in and the emotions with all of them, were more than I could handle. I needed me. That’s all I knew.
Letting go is a process in itself. It meant unlearning damn near everything I’d been taught. If I knew that becoming someone I wasn’t would never work out for me, then I knew I had to let go so that I could become me. Unlearning is painful. I was faced with accepting that just because I had gone through the majority of my life learning from those around me, it didn’t mean that those people around me knew the right ways of living life. To add injury to this insult never spoken aloud to any of them, I had no idea what any of them really knew anymore. They all herded together though. They still do. A support system viewed to be in tact, but not one of them can say with certainty what it is they rally around.
I removed myself. I took myself away from it and them. While I saw complacency, I refused to accept it. Sure, belonging is easy. Life runs a bit smoother, I suppose. It did for them. Once I left it, I could see it clearer. The view I had was one of confusion while I was there. All of the conversations were the same and met with harmony more often than not. I made mental notes of all of it, I still make notes, to which I still refer to from time to time. But unlike these people, my reference points aren’t a stagnant location, they are ever changing. I use these notes to revisit where I once fought to belong and compare it to where I’ve brought myself now.
Becoming takes relearning.
So who was I? I had no idea then. I am still not sure of the girl who resides inside of me. Adjectives come to mind, but those are of her character and her spirit. I suppose she’s who I am, but I am still discovering her. In relearning after unlearning, I still question if it’s the course to follow. It’s a place of loneliness. It’s a road many don’t travel. It gets dark, it gets hazy, and more days than not it’s uncomfortable. I suppose though that’s why it is less traveled. I don’t see many faces. I don’t stir much conversation. I come to junctions as I travel and sit down. I’ll watch to see who passes by as they too travel and I notice the ones that linger there. No one stays for long. Everyone I see is busy, busy finding the way back to what they know.
Going back is what I refuse to do. Each step I take forward, is one that is necessary. It’s one that brings me to the furthest point in my becoming. Like many do, I’ve turned around before. What I learned in doing so is that complacency is painful, too. Going back to a previous place is like coming home from an extended vacation. Unpacking is gruesome. Cleaning up takes time. Routines are met once again. But routines are not for everyone. Settling back in to some place I was before was wasted effort to why I left it. It’s the ‘why’ that I began to consider. Why did I feel pushed to go backwards when it wasn’t the direction I felt inclined to go?
I kept watching. I still do. Familiarity is like gravity. It weighs people down. It becomes mundane. Each time I recognize the pattern of familiarity, I liken it to the constant rocking of a car on a freight train. I’ve sat and watched those, too. The arrival is announced. Traffic stops. Waiting is trance-like. It’s a place to daydream and look around. The rocking finds a rhythm. The rhythm breaks the silence. Then it’s over. Traffic continues as if it never stopped. It keeps going, it continues on in the same direction as before.
Maybe it was that place I grew to love – the place of being stopped.
It was a place I wanted to be everytime I kept in motion. It’s where my patience grew and my learning came in my thinking and my thinking only happened when I stopped. I had no idea what the reason was to continue going in the same direction. Following the same routes, back and forth, from one familiar point to the next, and back again. I hated the routine. I hated living on the same path. I hated crowded roads.
Over time, I learned to stay there longer. I didn’t need traffic to stop in order for me to have what I wanted. I decided those main streets and familiar roads were the ones that looked the safest but they didn’t offer change. The scenery was always the same. I had the roads memorized since I’d traveled them since birth. It all became boring. I was bored.
In letting go and unbecoming, I’d realized that I wanted more. I wanted more than needing some map when I ventured out of town. I needed more than the certainty of traveling from the starting point to the next and then knowing how to return back to that place where I started from. The view was always the same. I knew it would be whether in sunlight or moonlight, rain or shine. I wanted to sit at that place, lost in the trance-like state where daydreaming and looking around made me notice things I never did while in constant motion.
Sitting there, in waiting, I began to see more. I noticed the faces of those while they sat there, too. I saw the frustration in having to come to a stop. I noticed the impatience of being forced to wait to continue on. I heard the sounds of disgust and angst. I saw it all. I even noticed that point where all of these became lost while sitting. It happened suddenly and seemed to go unnoticed by each participant. Not one of them was aware of its taking place while it did. Not one of them seemed to notice that eventually the waiting settled in and dreaming began. But then as soon as it was over, it was as if it never happened. I would have never noticed it if I had stayed there, on those roads they traveled, as I waited on my turn to go. I would have never seen what I have had I stayed there with them. It is seeing what I have that makes me appreciate my leaving.
It saddens me, too, more often than not, that where I choose to sit is a place not many do. In the junction of where I’ve been and where I’m going, I can reflect and I can hope. I learn even in my unlearning. I become in my unbecoming.
As I have come to understand it, life has no rules to follow. I have learned all that those around me could teach me. I have let go of those things that might be meant for them but aren’t necessarily meant for me. I have accepted that I’m okay with it. In the place where I sit to rest, each time I stop to do so, I am met with the silence of the world. It’s the silence that goes unnoticed. It’s those things that go unnoticed that I enjoy the most. I shake my head often in doubt. I wonder why more people don’t search for this place. I wonder why so many people are intent on constant motion. I question the roads they travel as they believe in the assurance of their own familiarity. Back and forth and back again. It’s the same no matter where it is when I stop to look around.
Letting go is the chance to change.
I can’t say change is easy. It’s messy and it’s loud. Change brings chaos over contentment. But when it leaves and after all of the fury of it’s arrival slows down, there’s a calmness that’s not the same before it came. While I sometimes miss those times of contentment as I have traveled the same roads and listened as I was taught, I also remember the hurt of not understanding why I was constantly blamed for misunderstanding.
In my leaving and taking the time to look around, I notice that people cling to what they know. A crowd gathers, and they all know what they know together. It’s a herd of like-minded insanity, not sure of anything but what they know, yet they don’t know why they know it.
When the herd gathers, it protects itself. After standing on the outside and noticing the uncertainty that went unnoticed in what it was so adamantly protecting, I felt safety in my own solace. Sitting alone and on the outside, I have watched with open eyes. When each member of the herd looks around, the view is met with either agreement or chastisement. If the boundaries of the herd are pushed, the herd pushes back. It’s a fail safe for the community it creates. It’s automatic and it’s the same every time.
I haven’t enjoyed sitting alone in every moment of my doing so. I have cried. I have shed tears silently, and sometimes violently. Unlearning simultaneously bares a sadness and an anger that otherwise don’t meet often. On the other hand, while I sit outside of its limits, I laugh from a place inside of me that I never knew existed before. I laugh with pride in having left. I laugh at the absurdities of the fluent motion of so many. At first, leaving felt like rejection. I was ostracized. I was ignored. But I’ve come to understand in my relearning that the way of the herd remains unchanged. I can now see that nothing stands in the way of my view. Unlike that community of familiarity, my view is wide open. There is nothing on either side of me. In any direction I choose to look, I can see as far as my sight allows me. I’m more comfortable in my knowing that I can see further than each member of the herd. I enjoy not being forced to stop as I travel. Instead I stop whenever I want. I stop and take the time to think. I stop to look around.
In unbecoming, I have learned more than anyone else could have ever taught me. I’ve learned more than any herd could teach me. In my own confusion I somehow find my own clarity. In the silence of my surroundings, I see what others don’t. I notice what gets overlooked and what remains unknown. As I unbecome who I was, I have never been more of myself. As I move closer to me, I enjoy traveling without knowing where I’m going. My view has so much more to offer than all of those roads I traveled before. I find peace being outside of traffic. I like not being a part of the herd. I’d rather sit here, alone. I’d rather become who I’m becoming.