The Month of Change

For me, October has always been a month of change and growth. I’ve experienced my first heartache, the beginning of my marriage, the loss of a child, the reality of my parents’ mortality during my mom’s battle with cancer, the exquisite pain of the end of my marriage, and the adjustment of moving back to the states from Germany all in the month of October over the years.

It’s a transformative time for me, and this year is no different. As I’ve written about before, my move back to Arkansas is coming up very quickly, and my mind is racing to catch up with the plans I’ve made for myself. I’m ready for the change. Despite the nervousness connected to the knowledge that I’ll be completely on my own for the first time in my life, it’s time. It’s time to prove to myself that I can survive, that I can be the independent person I’ve always embraced the idea of.

Almost exactly a year ago, I was leaving Germany. More than any other time in my life, 2014 was the year that I really began to discover who I was and what I was made of. I feel like I’m equal parts older and younger than my age. Older because I’ve already been through so many experiences, but younger because until last year, I had no inkling of how I saw my future. In my marriage, I had given up my identity and lost some of the most important years of self-discovery, so I’ve learned to turn my mid-twenties into those experimental years.

Germany changed me. It was the initial push that caused me to really start enjoying writing for the sake of recording thoughts and allowing my emotions a place to rest. I began to embrace the parts about me that I previously viewed as weak things to be ashamed of. It was a pivotal moment in my life, a realization that sharing my true story, struggles and all, was the only way to truly heal. So I shared. I made friends with people with whom I knew would be loving toward me no matter what mistakes I made, no matter the battles I still had waging within me. I truly believe that last year in Germany saved me.

Coming back, I wasn’t prepared for the culture shock. I wasn’t ready to be surrounded by the world that wants so hard to be vulnerable and open, but hides their real weaknesses in order to look strong and put together. I wasn’t expecting to relapse into the emotional tug-of-war, the sense that people are only willing to help when it satisfies their own needs first. That’s not the way that everyone is here, it’s just a generalization based primarily on experiences I’ve had over and over again in this small town I live in.

Perhaps it’s just a feeling that comes with the knowledge that it’s time for me to move on to the next thing. Perhaps my negative feelings of this place come from situations I’ve only got myself to blame for. Perhaps it’s just knowing that with October comes change. With the autumn comes the end of a chapter. When the leaves start changing and the world is covered in a blanket of reds and oranges, it’s a beautiful symbol of saying goodbye to everything I’ve known from the year, of preparing myself for the birth of something new and exciting.

Kelsterbach, Germany - October 2014
Kelsterbach, Germany – October 2014

listening to: Bear’s Den

Learning Confidence

“It is the bright shine of all the endured sorrow that will make us glow” –Tyler Knott Gregson

Confidence is not something that I’ve ever had in abundance. It’s not even something I’ve had a decent amount of. I suppose part of that is my personality and wanting to be in the background more than the forefront of anything important, but it has been a deeply seeded part of me for as long as I can remember.

I tend to read into things far more than I probably should, but I trace a lot of my actions and life decisions back to my lack of confidence on a regular basis. I’ve never thought that I was truly smart enough, pretty enough, worth enough, etc. for some of the things I wanted to do with my life. So I settled. I settled in my relationships, my job choices, and in probably more things that I’m even aware of. The problem with settling is that your soul senses that something isn’t quite right. This leads to unhappiness and uneasiness, which then tends to feed into the lack of confidence again, and the cycle continues.

The funny thing is, the last time I told someone that I have very low self-confidence, they didn’t believe me. They said that I seemed very confident, and I think I laughed at that. I’ve always been a second-guesser, someone who always worried that the decision made was the wrong one. I still overthink practically every decision I make, but I’m trying to take more leaps of faith in my choices. Perhaps it’s this attempt to dive headfirst into decisions that gives me that false air of confidence. Or maybe that attitude is slowly transforming me into a more confident person without me really realizing it.

It’s not that I don’t want to be confident. I want to be confident in who I am and what I’m doing more than anything else in the world. It’s just the struggle between wanting to be a certain way and actually being that way. Just as in everything else though, there has to be a desire for change before that change can actually happen. Like I’ve said before, I don’t really do the “New Years resolution” thing, but I am trying to make it a life goal to build my confidence. I’ve been taking the struggles I’ve worked through and am trying to turn them into something positive. The feedback I’ve gotten back on all of that has probably been the key factor in building whatever kind of confidence I do have at the moment.

I know now that I do have something worth offering and I want to do everything possible to try and share that more and more. I’ve got my life story and while parts of it are incredibly painful, learning to embrace all of the dark and ugliness is what makes it all so beautiful. Like I’ve told everybody I’ve encountered lately, if reliving even part of that pain needs to happen in order to help others through their struggles, it’s more than worth it. Perhaps the confidence will appear as an accompaniment to the peace I feel every time I know someone has been able to relate to my story.

Niederrad, Germany- October 2014
Niederrad, Germany- October 2014

listening to: Damien Rice, Bastille