An important thing no one ever told me

I guess I never thought it would be this easy. 

Maybe that sounds like a slightly naive statement, even too simple, but I cannot think of another way to put it. Truly, I guess (because I don’t recall exactly) that I never thought that it would be this easy.

What’s it? Life. Just living this life.

And by this life I mean my life, me, honest and open and unashamed.

(It’s not supposed to be this easy, is it?)

All of us, at some point in time, have suffered from being on the outside looking in. Social media exacerbates it, but the problem, the challenge, was here from well before Facebook appeared on the scene. You see a group of people over there, they look you’re age, and they’re having so much fun and you’re not. Or, you look at your siblings, and everything seems to be great in their life, but you have pimples or your clothing doesn’t fit the way you want or–

Choose your own adventure of self-inflicted misery, okay?

If we’re fortunate, we grow out of that. We get to an age when we recognize that everybody has problems, there are no perfect couples or relationships, our parents have done us wrong and will do so and we certainly have done the same in return, and most everyone is stumbling along and doing their best to get it right. Even the ones who get it right 9.5/10 times, don’t get 10/10. And some stop trying, and that really just sucks for them and everyone around them.

I used to think of myself as a … 2 out of 10. I’m a child who grew up in a religious Christina family: everyone else (it seemed) was comparing themselves to Paul or David or Moses; I settled on Manasseh as my yardstick to measure the level of my sin or my chances of being forgiven.

See? Choose your own adventure of self-inflicted misery…

I’m 20 years done moving through that beautiful shame, and rounding on 35 years on this good, green earth, and now I look back and I ask myself: “Dude, why so many years wearing that hairshirt? Did it really take you that long to figure it out?”

Maybe? No one ever told me, not directly or implied, not with any cleverness or with any sympathy, that it could be this easy and that it would be this easy, as long as I…

  1. Got real, first and most importantly, with myself, and then
  2. With my friends. And my family. And the people actively populating my life.
  3. Got boundaries, you know, like real ones (see #1 + #2)
  4. Found out the things that I like to do, and
  5. Did them, regularly and often, and so
  6. Found out the things that I didn’t like, and
  7. Didn’t do them.

That sounds like a real simple recipe, right? That’s because it is.

I just moved back to NYC from the District. 2 years ago, around this time, I could not even have imagined moving to the District. D.C. was a backwater little town, in my pea-sized native New Yorker brain. It had nothing to offer me.

Except, you know, time and space to do #1, #2, #3… and oh, the whole bit of the above. Learning all of that, doing all of that, growing in that way was, at times, painful. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t as hard as I’m sure some of us imagine it to be (wait, tell my friends that I don’t want to hang out? but they’re gonna get so mad.. wait, tell my parents that no, I will not be coming for that holiday? but they’re gonna get so mad…  wait, what?! [but]…)

Now, I look back on the last 2 years a bit slack-jawed; dang! that went by fast and wow! it was such a breeze. It was fun! Telling people no and holding to it? Fun. Try it, worth it, so good! Oh, and, now I’m moving back to NYC and I’m going to live in Brooklyn or in Manhattan–

Wait, wait! Nope. No. See #4. Have I learned nothing in the last 2 years? This isn’t about others, this is about what works for me…

My life isn’t perfect, but while I do complain – because I’m human – for the most part, what is there to complain about? Complaining is easy because you shift the responsibility off of yourself. It’s your coworkers who get on your nerves, and your siblings who test your patience, and your parents who cross your boundaries. But, in reality, they’re going to do what they’re going to do, but you need to do what you need to do.

What’s the outcome? Well, I’ll share some of mine:

  • I can now sit down and have a conversation with my mom about dating. Not an obscure, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell-style abstraction, but a real conversation with real laughter, and real advice, and real connection.
  • As I sort out my new apartment, I’m able to live with my sister, and not just peacefully, but also with real, yes, you guessed it, connection.
  • I wake up every morning and I talk to my best friend.
  • I will see my best friend, who lives in London, more than 8 weeks this year. 5 of them on his side, and 3 of them on mine.
  • I get to spend good time with my closest friend, with my favorite brother, and their kids, and we legitimately share our lives – ups and downs, advice, help, and we are honest and open with one another.

That list is a snippet; there is so much more.

In less than a week, I’ll be 35, and all of my powers of deduction and all of my “intelligence”, I never saw this coming. It is this easy. Even when times do get hard, life, as a whole, remains easy. How? It’s all in your approach:

  1. Every moment is an opportunity for something good to happen.
  2. Every moment has in it the space and the place for something wonderful.

I live in endless anticipation of what comes next.
I live in endless wonder.

It truly is that easy.

 

 

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