December 31, 2016

This Year, I’ll Lean In: Thoughts on Becoming.


It’s the only word that perfectly describes the last year for me.

It was the year my divorce was finalized. It was the year that I completely entered the post-divorce dating scene through online dating.

It was a year of political upheaval and more change than I could process. It was the year I fell in love with someone who will never love me back, and the year I would choose bravery, honesty and authenticity as values that I’m committed to living.

It was the year that I would open up my heart again and again, even though it was painful each time. It was the year that I discovered who I am, and what I want, and began to live a dream that’s always been a part of me.

As this year closes, I have been meditating on the concept of struggle. My growth process each time is like birth—miraculous and beautiful and painful. Each time that I learn and grow as a human being, I find resistance in myself to the change. I’m not a person who learns everything the easy way, and most of my learning experiences have been the kind that feel like being broken in order to heal. So I think about struggle, and I wonder how much of the pain was self-inflicted because I resisted it.

I’ve decided that for this new year, the only thing to do is to lean in. I have to stop fighting the change and the growth. Instead, I need to learn to lean into it. It will still be painful, and it will still be tough. But I want to find the courage in myself to lean in to the hard decisions and the difficult changes in order to transform myself into the person that I’m capable of becoming.

Loving someone who doesn’t love me back was a process replete with struggle. The struggle not to say anything because I was so afraid that I would lose him if I was honest. Then I struggled with losing him anyway and not having the opportunity to even say goodbye. I struggled with anger at being ghosted and longing because I loved him despite it. I struggled with disappointment and loss and unmet needs, and I struggled with letting go. I struggled with the cycle that is holding on and letting go a little and then holding on again. I struggled with hope and with rejection, and I struggled with the frustration of needing to be free of him.

The truth is that I still feel all of these things, but I’m not fighting them anymore. I’m not heaping on guilt and shame for loving someone completely unworthy of it or for feeling love at all. I’m not struggling against wanting to hold on and needing to let go. I’m not fighting the waves of longing, loss and loneliness that rise in me and then drift away. Instead, I’m leaning in to each feeling and allowing myself to experience each one without judgment.

When we choose to lean in, we can picture it like we’re sitting on the shore of some beautiful beach. We’re sitting comfortably in the sand, and we watch the tide come and go. Sometimes it comes close to us, and sometimes it’s far away. We watch it visit and leave, and we don’t pass judgment on it for doing what it’s meant to do. It washes in sea glass, worn smooth from the repetition and the salt and sand and the gentle rocking of the wave. It washes in seashells that were once homes to creatures, but are now tiny remembrances of lives and repositories of dreams. They are pieces of beauty we slip into our pockets, idly stroking as we walk in the tide.

Leaning into our feelings and surrendering to them is like that peaceful walk on the shore. It’s a practice of acceptance and of seeing the beauty in the struggle of becoming. It’s knowing that it will still feel uncomfortable and often painful, but that it’s how we become something greater and more beautiful than we are if we stop resisting it. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the change is coming whether we resist or not. And if we resist, maybe the change that comes for us isn’t as full or as beautiful as it could have been had we allowed it.

We need to remember that our feelings are not right or wrong, good or bad. They aren’t meant to be judged, or resisted, or even held on to. They are changing us as they come and go, smoothing out our edges and shaping us into better people. We can choose the direction of those changes, but we cannot stop them from coming. We aren’t meant to be stagnant or stilted. We’re as lovely and fragile as sandcastles, soon to be washed away by time, but we are also strong and enduring grains of sand that are a part of the whole of the universe.

When I meditate on struggle and surrender and leaning in, I use the beach as my focus. I think about how the moon pulls the tides and how so often circumstances beyond our control work to change the lives we’re living. And I know that I don’t want to go into another year resisting the changes that will make me better and stronger, even if those changes sometimes feel like they’re wearing me down.

I choose to believe in the process and to put my faith in surrender. I choose to lean in and to do so without judgment. I let it all come, and I let it all go. I breathe deeply each time and know that we are fragile and lovely and strong and enduring all at once. We are ever-changing and yet constant in a way that holds us together, always more alike than different, always striving to become what we’re meant to be- or choosing struggle and becoming something just a little less than we could.

Lean in, let go, and love every moment.




Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: Rosario Dawson/Instagram

Editors: Travis May

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