Wise woman and fierce writer Elizabeth Gilbert, said: “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person finally getting tired of their own bullshit.” When I read those words, a smile danced on my lips. It’s a truth I am intimately familiar with. Now, before I go any further, let me offer this disclaimer: my own personal vat of bullshit can feel wide and deep, and I expect to be filtering it out for the rest of my life. So I don’t feign victory in the arena of life transformation. In fact, I would claim just the opposite: I am a fumbling newbie shaking in my boots at the awareness that suddenly surrounds me, staring me down right between my eyes. I am in the center of the arena, watching and listening for which door will open next, releasing the latest bull(shit) I have yet to conquer.
When The Cart Comes Before the Horse
As a 19 year old sophomore in college I had a 4.0 GPA in the university’s business program. I can remember feeling like I was on a decent life path. My academic career was manifesting beautifully. I was finally in a relationship with a non-douchebag, a guy I’d known since I was 7, and while my social life was basically non-existent, I held down two solid friendships with girls I still call my friends today. Essentially, I was living the dream. Isn’t it rich how teenagers are so quick to think they’ve got things figured out?
Two months into my very fresh relationship, a bombshell dropped: I was pregnant. To make a long story shorter, my plans flipped upside down and life happened in a fast track way that required me to buckle up and hold on tight. Shockingly, my eldest turned 13 this past July and she has a 10 year old brother and a 4 year old sister. I walked away from my university endeavors and straight into the depths of stay-at-home motherhood and housewifery. Hence, for the entirety of my 20’s — I put every ounce of energy I had into raising my babies…without realizing that they have always been raising me.
30 has stereotypically been touted as a milestone age. It just felt like a number to me. Albeit surprising that 10 years had passed and I was promptly leaving my 20’s, I wasn’t mad about it. My 20’s were hard! So I thought, “bring it on, 30!” Yet, I don’t think anyone could’ve warned me of the shift my gears were about to engage.
Time For An Overhaul
I wasn’t fully aware of it on my 30th birthday, but shortly after, a stirring began deep inside of me. It was quiet, yet intrusive and impossible to ignore. Have you ever experienced deep insecurity and blazing assuredness simultaneously? That’s kind of what it felt like. I had an out of body experience by observing patterns of behavior in my relationships, my social media presence, and the narratives I was buying into. My brow furrowed. What. Am. I. Doing? It was like I’d been knocked unconscious and woken up with a prescription lens. I was not okay with what I saw.
Cue self deprecation. Bull(shit) door number one had been blown wide open and insecurity was raging toward my stupid waving red flag. I learned a lot more about giving grace, to others and myself. I started reading books like Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist and Unoffendable by Brant Hansen. My small minded, self involved tendencies had to be dumped out. Desperately, I refilled my tank with grace, upon grace, upon grace. It was ugly. I stumbled around my words, thoughts and choices. I was grappling for where my old self left off and where my new self found her footing. (By the way— she’s still looking for that super solid ground). As a result, I isolated myself because I was ashamed of what I had morphed into. My available energy for others was limited in the trenches of transforming myself.
During this process, we built a new home in 90 days (no, I’m not kidding). I experienced the unexpected fallout of a decade long friendship, and sent my first baby to middle school. Sometimes, when it rains, it hurricanes.
Time To Heal
Now, I am 33. The last three years have been the longest of my life. Also: they’ve flown. Life is funny that way. I have examined, cross examined, and re examined myself and my relationships. When anxiety threatens to boss me around, I use helpful tools from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Books continue to broaden my thought landscape and awareness. Podcasts open my mind and help me face the music. And, I stay surrounded by people who inspire and challenge me to be my best self. Having a tribe that loves you enough to speak the truth in love, even if it stings, is more precious than pearls. I’m grateful for the people I’ve encountered. Some of them are a part of my story in previous chapters of my life. But some are intrinsic fabric in the patchwork that holds me together. My cup runneth over with gratitude for them.
Elizabeth Gilbert hit the nail on the head: life transformation begins with getting tired of one’s own bullshit. I became tired of my own bullshit. There’s always going to be some manure to till into my terrain, to act as fertilizer for the next crop of growth. While the constant pursuit of humility is what drives me forward, Grace is the reason I can keep going. And as long as I’m here, it’s my responsibility to evolve. Staying stagnant is not an option, and believing I’ve got it all figured out would be both ignorant and arrogant. After all, it’s exponentially more rewarding to have my eyes wide open to opportunities for learning, so I plan to stay curious from here on out.