Yesterday while I was walking to the grocery store a few blocks from my house, I stopped at these flowers to marvel at just how quaint my little life was, right there in that moment. And as I stood there, in awe that such perfect colors exist in nature, just steps from my back door, something occurred to me.
Since I was but a wee tot, I think I have struggled with the belief that the things I wanted to be would come naturally to me. I don't mean that boastfully, like I assumed I would just be good at everything - because I can assure you I sacrificed any confidence I had in my "natural abilities" to middle school athletics a long time ago. This is more the thought that I would be certain ways and not others by no choice of my own. I know that sounds weird, but bear with me. A simple example would be that I am not a morning person. At all. In any way. So I would think, oh, I wish I was a morning person. But alas I am not, so I must push the snooze once more. Woe is me. The reality is, if I was serious about being a morning person, it would take a lot of work. It would take days, weeks, of setting 25 different alarms every morning until one day I finally woke up on time. It's possible. Though I'll be honest, not probable in any kind of immediate time frame.
I remember the first time it occurred to me that I could be whatever I chose to be. I was looking in a magazine and I thought, oh, I wish I was a person who could pull off red lipstick and it occurred to me that I COULD BE IF I WANTED. And I did. So I was. Have been ever since, in fact. Liberation and terror abound.
Which brings us to yesterday: I think I've been in a teensy little bit of a funk lately. One where I am very tired from working with difficult people all day long so I come home and my natural inclination is to drink wine and watch Netflix until I eventually fall asleep. Now, that's all well and good once in a while, but for me that's not a super healthy pattern to get into. I don't want to be that person. So instead, last night when I got home, I walked to the grocery store near my house with a cute yellow reusable bag I have and bought a spaghetti squash and some other things I'd been wanting to cook and I stopped to look at flowers and then I walked back home. It was lovely, and I realized as I looked at those very flowers that I was not a slave to my funk. I had gone against my natural inclination and done something that in the moment had not seemed all that genuine to my immediate desires, and somehow it wasn't disingenuous. In fact, just right then and there, I had chosen quaint and lovely [with a little more effort] over funky and mopey [which would have been easy-breezy]. It had taken some work on my part, but I was being what I wanted to be.
Is it always this simple? Heavens, no. There are about a million other factors in this life to contend with than just choosing to have one quaint evening instead of a funky one, chemical imbalances and whatnot. Even to sustain this one little thing I'll have to make the same choice again tomorrow, and the day after that and the one after that too, which is a little exhausting to think about, if we're being honest. But practice makes perfect. I can be whatever I want to be. It may not come naturally. I may have to work at it. But the great part is, I get to choose. And that's at least kind of fun.
All in all, I think my musical boyfriends the Avett Brothers say it best:
Be whatever you want to be. Be liberated and terrified. I highly recommend it.