I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii recently in celebration of my 10 year wedding Anniversary. I was excited to rest and relax, but even more excited to have no real plans for about two weeks. As my husband and I drove to our hotel from the airport, I admired the view. The landscape was different, but beautiful. I saw the water, and then I saw the volcano rock. All around, there was rock. I wondered about wildlife and vegetation in this area of the drive. Then, I started noticing a grass-like growth seemingly right from the rocks. I admired the steadfastness of the growth and the fact that while nothing else was growing out of that rock, this grass was. I remarked to my husband how amazing that was, then I began to ponder on the significance of what was going on. It made me do some thinking about life. Sometimes our situations seem dark and do not, seemingly, have a foundation from which we can grow. In the midst of our trials, we despair. We fret. We struggle to see the end of the process; But we forget that every process produces growth within us. Just like the grass growing out of the rocks, out of a hard and impossible place, we too grow and evolve. We SURVIVE. The situations may not be ideal, and we may not like how we come to our growth moments, but it happens. So, we have to be as resilient as that grass growing out of the rock. Keep growing. Refuse to bend. Decide not to let go. But grow through it. Thrive. Be. Do. Just because you can.
I am socially awkward. I am that one who CAN talk to everyone in the room, but probably won’t. The wallflower that is vibrant and vivacious, but would rather stay to myself. That one who loves everyone, but still gravitates to seeking my own company. I used to wonder why God gave me the personality He did. Why did he make me quiet and observant as opposed to outgoing and the life of the party? Why couldn’t he make me to be the one with a whole lot of friends and associates, rather than the one with very few friends and even fewer associates? I have watched those who seem to be well-liked by everyone, and I wondered about their secret. Then I tried to mimic who they were, but it made me feel fake and out of pocket. Eventually, I came to realize that the me the way God created me to be would have to do.
If you think about it, all of us having the same personalities would make for a very bland world. No differences. Same way of doing things. There is a place in society for all of us. For the quintessential wallflower, the gregarious life of the party, the easygoing in-the-moment participant…all of us. Now, I know that our lives sometimes shape who we are. Looking back at my childhood, my experiences shaped me to be unnaturally suspicious of anyone I encounter. Trusting someone is not always first on my list. Then as I grew older, my own mistakes led me into hiding. I used to think, “What if they knew all the things I have done. The wrong I have done to others…THAT mistake? Would they still think I had value?” But that is a mindset that has to be broken. Our lives lead to us portraying ourselves in certain ways, then we project that on others and stop being true to ourselves. I decided I would live my truth.
So now, when I say I am a wallflower, it is not out of fear of what people think about me. It is because I have learned to speak when I have something to say. But, I am the one in the gathering who will most likely be off to myself. Not antisocial. Not standoffish. Just comfortable in who I am. It took years to get here, but it has been worth the journey. Spend time getting to know yourself, and being comfortable with who you are. Your experiences shaped you, but they don’t define the rest of your story.
I had a good conversation with a friend today, and we came upon the topic of moving forward in life. I told him that I have been moving forward, but there are some things I have been working on to keep moving forward. His statement was that the way to move forward is to forget about the past. I chose to agree to disagree with him. I understand that forgetting what has occurred in our past may seem like the perfect solution to keep moving forward, but I could not help but thank about the possibility that if I forget what has occurred in my past, then I may repeat a cycle. On one hand, I do see that remembering the past can keep you bound in it, but I also understand myself, and realize that there are some things I need to remember to stay free from what has been. Each persons story is different. Your path in life may have different requirements, but one thing is sure…even if we forget our history we may still mess up, and in the same token, if we remember our past, we may still mess up. What it comes down to is a daily choice to keep moving forward. Are some things better forgotten? Yes. We really have to know ourselves intimately enough to realize what we need to forget and what we need to remember. Life is often about a daily decision. From one day to the next, we may choose to make a different decision. Regardless, each day we have to CHOOSE.
Each day that we wake up and go about our lives, we are faced with choices. The first choice most likely being whether to actually get out of the bed or to sleep in. Once we make that choice we generally choose to shower or bathe, what clothes to put on, and possibly what to eat for breakfast. Our life is filled with choices, and some are more trivial compared to others, but there’s always a choice. The world we live in today is not always a happy place. So many of us are dealing with low paying jobs, more bills than money, and less “stuff” than others. Because of this, it is easy to get depressed or to wish that our lives were different. We see others’ happiness and we get jealous because their life seems so much better than ours. What we do not realize is that though others may have material goods, they may be missing out in other aspects of their lives. Maybe they wish that they could be content with the bare necessities, or maybe they wish that they had peace of mind after realizing that money cannot buy happiness. Who knows, but the grass is not always greener on the other side. I was one who used to look at others seeming happiness, and I used to get jealous of their happiness. Someone got a new car. So what. Someone got a new job. So what. Someone got into a new relationship. So what. If I was not happy, then I did not care about their happiness. That is a miserable way to live. I was not happy, so I made myself more unhappy by being jealous of the happiness of others. That is a vicious cycle to continue, and one that needed to change. Eventually, I DECIDED to change. I made a choice to change. I understood that it was something wrong with me that I could not be happy for others. Slowly, I began to reevaluate myself. I picked out the not so great things about myself, and one by one, I began to change them. One of the first things I focused on was the level of contentedness in my life. I acknowledged the things I did not have in my life, and then I began to list the things I did have. By listing the things I have, I realize that I am so much more blessed that I realized. I had spent so much time focusing on others “great” things, that I forgot to recognize what was “great” about my own life. Then I chose to be content regardless of anything. Once I learned how to be content, I then made the choice to be happy. I realize that things in my life may never be perfect, but even if not, I can choose to be happy in the midst of my imperfect perfection. Each day I try to think about one thing I am grateful for in my life, and I choose to be happy about my life and my right now. Tomorrow will always take care of itself. Today is all that I have. I encourage you today to choose happiness. Choose to cherish what you have. Choose to laugh. Choose to love. Choose life. Remember, how each day plays out is your choice.