There are moments in our life where we can really feel a shift. I think its recognizable in two very opposing scenarios. The first is during times of intense struggle or pain, when we feel like we’re close to buckling under the pressure of what’s around us. Those moments strip everything away from us and the only things left standing are our raw emotional reactions, survival, and resilience.
I think we too often undercut these experiences, We shy away from them. In retrospect we tell ourselves it wasn’t that bad. No. It WAS that bad. And there is value in acknowledging that.
I started seeing a new therapist recently and we did the whole “tell me about why you’re here” spiel. I recounted role reversal and assumed responsibility at a too-young age, the still-bleeding loss of my mother and grandmother, the madness that was 2012-2018: trauma, poverty, eviction, hospitalization, grad school, moving across country, coming into my own identity and assuming guilt and burden as a result. I think sometimes I sweep it under the rug because I don’t want those things to be the headliner. But the reality is… while it may not be a headliner, it’s at least a supporting role. And it’s so important to give those moments their due and give a nod to how much they’ve influenced you.
The other moments feel quite different. You are soaring. You can literally see things shifting into place around you, like puzzle pieces that are only visible to you. There is a sense of authority and alignment and confidence, however timid. To be attuned to those moments is not always easy. It’s such a subtle thing at first, but once you can tap into it and can readily recognize its the feeling can leave you soaring. That is the shift.
Perhaps it shows up in other ways for you, but these are the two most recognizable (and diametrically opposed) places they are present for me. In these shifts, we can also see ourselves shedding our skin-- there is a person behind us and someone waiting for us ahead. It’s almost as if we’re standing in a doorway, crossing into another space. Notably during times of struggle, I think that is the universe’s way of giving us a push through that door.
The interesting thing is, we still have a choice as this transformation is happening. We can either fight it, or flow with it. And it makes a huge difference in the outcome.
I began college at Elon, where I had a music scholarship. I ended up transferring to the University of Maryland early on to be closer to home and auditioned THREE TIMES for their music program as a vocal performance major. I petitioned to take majors only coursework, I lobbied to get a voice teacher reserved for majors only. My narrative was that I was not giving up. I kept telling people I was, in fact, a music major because that’s what it was all supposed to be. It HAD to work out. I cried, I was miserable, I was bitter, I drank a lot, and I was mad at myself for leaving a program that valued my talent and made me feel successful. After the third audition (in fact, it was the last time I was eligible to audition and also graduate on time), I was accepted into the program… but as a minor. I was devastated. My entire life, being a musician was my path, and I thought it was my future. I called my grandfather one day in tears. Defeated by it all, I said, “well, I’ll take the minor. I already have a major and another minor. This is what I’ll do.”
I’ll never forget his reply. He chuckled and said, “ah, you’ve finally stopped swimming against the current”.
And that was the first big shift I felt in my life. I didn’t fully appreciate it in the moment, nor did I truly settle with it. I was still resentful. I still waged an emotional war, and the battle turned internal. I spent years wading in those waters and allowing them to define my sense of self.
I harken back to that statement often. How often are we swimming against a current when the world is trying to give us a message? I love music. And my relationship with it is complicated, mostly because I felt inferior in that music program. Unfortunately, it was a self fulfilling prophecy in many ways, and hindsight is 20/20. But I also feel like I am in the right place today, doing the right things right now. I wouldn’t be here without first being there. I stopped fighting it.
I try to rely on those lessons when I see or feel the shifts happening today. How am I reacting? Am I supporting myself in the right ways? Am I picking up on all the little things around me that are guidestones for my path and purpose? Am I fighting something I need to let go of? I’m not always right (obviously), but I like to think I’ve employed sensitivity as a critical tool in my development. I encourage you to reflect on shifts in your life. What were they? How did you react? How will you see them coming next and what will you do?