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These days, we love to talk about growth.
Personal development became sexy years ago, and it still is.
And yet, so often, we focus on the glittering side of the growth coin, without giving much weight to the underbelly: growing pains.
While we know intellectually that one doesn’t go from caterpillar to butterfly at the flip of a switch, we rarely zoom in on the process beyond asking one another about the surface, like, say, our daily rituals. And while I love a good ritual, the truth is that unless we dig deeper—into, for instance, why X engages in Y ritual; what X is gaining; how X’s life was different prior to implementation of said ritual—we’re missing out on opportunities for deep bonding through raw, vulnerable, healing conversations.
One of the greatest, under-discussed growing pains involves closing a chapter in order to fully commit to the next.
To explain through story, for the past few years, I’ve been feeling pulled in two directions. Perhaps you’ve felt this way. You’ve been on one road for some time, or quite some time, when newfound curiosities begin to percolate, whispering for your attention. Whispering, that is, until they begin to crescendo. And then, seemingly all at once, you’re faced with a fork in the road. Cue the uncertainty and the accompanying anxiety as you try to figure out which to go down.
This has been my story since, at the very least, January 2020.
After years of this, I finally reached a breaking point last weekend wherein I, in near tears, looked up at the ceiling and said, “Please, Universe, just give me a sign. Tell me what to do.”
Within 24 hours, I received the same answer multiple times.
I was shocked.
Perhaps you’re not. Perhaps it sounds obvious on the outside that the message I received was that the second path, the newer, blooming path, was the one to go down.
But, for anyone else going through this, let me explain why it may not feel so clear when you’re sitting in the indecisiveness. That is: there may still be passion for the original path. Deep passion. Deep love. Deep longing for it to be the way forward.
I liken this to relationships.
How many times have you heard of someone being in a relationship that is going quite well—it’s filled with love, beautiful memories, exciting plans for the future, and yet, said person begins to get the inkling that there is someone else out there for them. Not because they are not grateful for what they have. Or because they are constantly on the lookout for something better. But simply because of the fact that this is what their intuition is telling them.
Maybe you’ve even been there. Your relationship is a-okay, but you’re feeling like there may be one out there that is better suited to you.
That’s what it feels like when you’re on a suboptimal path. There may be beauty in it; you may want it to work out. But deep down, you’re unsure about its longevity, or how you will feel when you’re on your deathbed, never having explored the alternative.
What I’ve come to learn is that when you’re making a transition into a truer version of yourself, it is helpful to recognize that you’re shedding an old skin; you’re letting go of a part of you that played an integral role to getting to where you are today. And with this death comes a grieving period.
Again, just like in relationships. And, staying on this analogy, just because you’re “breaking up” with a piece of your past, and that hurts, that doesn’t mean it’s not right.
A ceremony I conducted for myself to move through this grief was one that revolved around gratitude. The below is precisely what I did, which you can do yourself, or use as inspiration to create your own ceremony that is tailored to your unique self.
A ceremony to break up with your old self and move forward with intention and grace:
1. Carve out time to sit with yourself.
2. Light some candles.
3. Play a song you used to listen to a lot when you were living in your old skin.
4. Allow whatever comes up to arise (tears, sobs, screams, and so on.).
5. Reflect on how much you will miss this person; how much he/she brought into your life.
6. Emotions come in waves, so when you begin to feel the sorrow subside, begin to meditate on how much he/she has given you, how you couldn’t be where you are without him/her.
That last point is important. Especially if you’re prone to worrying about “wasting” time, as, in cases like this, part of our pain lies in this fear that perhaps we’ve wasted our lives going down the wrong road—like we should have known better, like maybe we shouldn’t throw it all away because, just maybe, refraining to do so will honour the years we spent in a more sanctimonious way.
But, of course, this isn’t true. We are meant to move through life fully alive, making decisions in spite of not knowing the outcomes. When we do this, we give ourselves the opportunity to learn about who we are. And, step by step, we become more and more aligned.
This ceremony honours the passage of time, our humanness, and, too, our divinity. And so I consider it, or at least a version of it, to be crucial in order to release emotion and move forward, clearheaded.
As a last note, here’s the comforting thing. If you’re having a hard time letting go, and yet you know you’re meant to, consider that it may just be for now—that, perhaps in even the near future, you will be called to return to that which you’re temporarily dropping, but with fresh eyes.
Maybe, in other words, the Universe is just calling for you to press pause—to take a break, versus say goodbye forever.
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