I've been careful with how I've approached writing and sharing on the interwebs, and some of this caution is healthy--it's a way for me to honor the journey, to see my own self as worth protecting by telling my story in person to those who can reach out and touch me, who can laugh with me and cry with me and listen to my long-winded, messy verbal processing that contains no formatting or editing, let alone punctuation. But I suspect I've also been hesitant to share in this space because nearly everything in my life is at an in-between stage, and I keep waiting for something more definitive to occur or form inside, so I can present it to you. If not neat little bows, at a minimum I want some sort of clear marker, some conclusive or categorical development in my narrative. It's hard to say that I'm still waiting, still learning, still confused, even if that's the truth.
Here are some of my in-betweens...
For many years, time felt precious and extraordinarily limited, because I embraced the lifestyle of constant busyness and extracurriculars and long to-do lists. I still love a good list, but since last May, I have possessed nearly unlimited time--and I've struggled intensely to know what to do with it. Some of my decisions regarding my schedule and my commitments have been good ones: volunteering in a classroom, leading a small group, going for walks with loved ones or alone, reading beautiful and challenging books, taking friends to the airport, learning to shape chords on the guitar, trying new things in the kitchen, even enrolling in a lifespan development course last summer.
But I've also done much less with this time than I might have, honestly. I don't mean this in a sense of efficiency or overall list of accomplishments, although that is a temptation for my type A self. What I mean is that in the beginning, I intentionally left a great deal of margin in my life at a time when depression and anxiety threatened to overwhelm me. I needed to rest. I rested. Now, months later, this lack of commitment has become something else, something deeply rooted in fear. It's not about rest anymore, but about fearing rejection and failure, all the while feeling immense pressure to make good decision. I feel the itch to take on commitments, to invest myself more deeply in things, but I can't seem to leap in.
I see that while I would like to be about music and serving the poor and reading theology and walks outside, what I more often make time for is Netflix and the internet and staying where it's safe, inside, in my pajamas. I see that the reality of what I make time for does not always match what I want my life to be about.
What this tells me is that busyness functioned as an excuse I made to myself, and that removing the obstacle of not having enough time seems to have revealed the deeper issue. Once upon a time, I kept myself busy and wished I had more time to do even more. Now I have maybe two or three fast commitments every week, and the wide open space of my calendar is a true love/hate relationship for me: I love slowing down, I love sleep, I love freedom, but I also want to get on with being for some things, and have a hard time finding the momentum to do so after resting for so long. I want to make time for those things about which I feel passionately and not spend all my life hiding, alone. But it's hard to take the first steps.
I try to tell myself all this with kindness, because it's been a long, tiring journey and I'm not finished yet. Yes, I have done much less than I could have with ten months of near total freedom, because the real obstacle for me isn't whether or not I have time to do something. I have had all the time in the world, but I haven't known what to do with it. I see now that the limitations are not external; they are inside of me. My limitations are internal fences keeping me locked up, ancient old thought loops that keep me trapped and confined, unable to risk, to adventure, to dream.