A couple weeks ago, my dear friend and mentor Liza Wiemer said to me that she felt like I was living on pause. I pretended to hear her but when we hung up I told myself that she was way off-base, that she was wrong and I was living the best I could. That I’ve been doing the best I can do for months and months now, and it was finally all turning around. Then I moved on and continued to wonder why I felt the way I did and why I couldn’t write and why why why.
Little did I consider that maybe, just maybe, she was right.
Here’s some backstory. And it’s going to get a little personal.
In April I started seeing my amazing boyfriend, Justin. At 27 (almost 28) he was my first boyfriend. The first everything really, as until him I’d only been on two dates before ever and kissed one person. I just never really had time or belief that I’d find someone. I had other dreams, other goals, other things to do and yes, it would’ve been great to share my life with someone and I wanted that, but I never really thought it’d happen. And then it did.
And my life completely changed. I moved, my roommates separated, I was job searching, dealing with this newness of having someone in my life and all the things that come with that, and honestly, it’s all a blur. My whole summer was one big mess. I stopped going to the gym. I stopped writing. I stopped going on random road trips. I never saw my friends, partly because some left and I moved 45 minutes away, but also because I was happy getting to know him and being someone’s girlfriend, exploring what that meant, what it looked like, what I wanted. I started seeing a shrink, taking Zoloft, experiencing all these emotional highs and lows that made it really hard to focus on the things that matter to me.
I want to say upfront that Justin is amazing and being with him has been a more remarkable thing than I imagined and we are both committed to each other. He’s been nothing but encouraging and supportive. None of this is on him. I’m the one who quit doing things I loved. I’m the one who got lost. The best analogy I can think of is that I moved to a new house but I forgot to bring all my boxes. I left the things that made up my life — the furniture, the decorations, the trinkets–in my old house and for months I’ve been sitting on the floor and I’ve been wondering why it’s so uncomfortable but being too afraid to ask why. I knew there was a problem because I saw the outcomes — me not writing, me feeling unbalanced — but I never stopped to ask what the problem was. And when someone else asked me, I didn’t seek an answer. I just kept on pretending.
Last night, Justin and I were talking. I was upset, as I often am, about nothing. We were discussing when we first met almost six months ago and he said that part of what attracted him to me was my drive. That I had all these plans, goals, ambitions and I was working toward them. That I knew what I wanted and he, in turn, wanted me to be in his life. Then we started this thing together and it’s like I turned off all that other stuff.
It just hit me when he said that: Liza was right. I have been living on pause.
Until he said that to me hadn’t realized I was living on pause. When I met him, I had this new awesome person and it was something I’d always dreamed of…but I put everything else on hold. I really don’t think I realized that I’d walked away from those other things, or I did realize it but walking back almost felt like losing this thing that I had now. (Losing him.) So I kept going without writing, without exercise, without adventure, without all the things that made me ME. I was living in a house without furniture and I didn’t even know it.
Ultimately, I’ve been scared. Scared that I’m not allowed to have everything I want — writing, romance, travel, health, a job I love — so I picked one thing that mattered (a boy) and kept moving without the other things. I was too terrified to know how to have them all. But I’ve now realized that when you have these parts of your life that are missing, and you’re trying to put someone or something else into them, it’s doesn’t fix anything. Those pieces are still missing.
I’ve spent a lot of time just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I dived into all this new relationship stuff with the intention of enjoying it, but I’m not really giving all of myself to it. Because I’ve been living on pause, it was like if this relationship didn’t make it then my old life could resume. So instead taking me and merging it into a new life, I kept it all separate. Like I could just go back to the old place when this one didn’t work out. It’s basically having a back up plan.
But here’s the thing: I’m not really living. I’m not doing the things I love. I’m not being who I need to be. I’ve sorta lost the things that bring me joy, that make my proud, that make love myself, that keep me focused. Without those things, who am I?
Being immobilized by fear is a serious thing and letting fear control your life? That’s no way to live. I’ve never been that person, and yet I’ve become her. Maybe it’s because I’ve only been pretending instead of actually living. I’m not entirely sure. All I know is I don’t like it and I won’t continue.
I’m sharing this story here because it’s important. When you realize that you’re the one standing in your own way, you have to make a change. You have to move. If I’m on pause then I’m not living — and now that I know how I’ve been spending my time, I can’t keep doing it. I told Justin earlier that I was going to take action. That I was going to push play. It’s easy to say and harder to do. In order to do that I feel like I need be honest. Admitting you have a problem is the first step…the second is finding a solution.
I’ve had a conversation with Justin about what’s going on. He, like always, is supportive and enthusiastic that I see this in myself. His big thing is action not just words, so I have created an action plan.
#21DaysofPlay is what it’s called. I made a calendar and every single day for 21 days I have to do two things:
- Exercise. I have these videos which take like 45 minutes a day and I’m going to wake up early and do them before work. Every day. I do it and I get a star sticker.
- Write. Because I WANT to and I just need to make it a priority, so each day I write I get a star sticker
At the end of 21 days if I have 21 stars for exercise then I get a reward of my choosing (one that I’ve decided on prior to the start of a new cycle.) If I have 21 stars for writing then I get to go to a movie or buy a book. Then I get a day or two off, then repeat.
I know it’s a small thing, but I’m really hoping this will help me jumpstart myself. These actions both bring me joy, so making them a priority and setting goals that I want to achieve can only be positive.
Pushing play, living, means taking action. This is where I’m starting.