Thursday, July 27, 2017

Stop Carrying Your Sign

I carry my stories with me like a sign around my neck. As I started college, transitioning to a state, school, and friends, my sign said “Lead singer of the band.” It was my fun fact, my ice breaker, the thing that helped me feel cool when I really felt awkward.

There are other signs—perhaps like a “Scarlet Letter,” forever carried as a representation of our mistakes (disclaimer: I haven’t read the book, I just know the general story). Or we carry our insecurities, our negative self-beliefs, ways we have been injured, or other ways that we ache.

I carry these signs. Sometimes I share these signs with friends, and sometimes I share them very openly online. When I write/blog/instagram/own a business, those things help connect me to a larger audience and help people feel less alone, and that can be a very good thing.

On here and on my Instagram, I’ve shared a bit about my journey through emotional trauma recovery. I’ve kept it vague, both to protect my own heart, and to be respectful of those who were a part of that season of my life. I chose to choose kindness and respect, even when my whole soul felt shattered. However, I think I always figured that someday I’d say more—I’d completely put it out there and say, this is what happened.

Because that’s my sign. That is what I carry around my neck now. That is who I am.

This morning I felt different.

I’m currently writing this from my hometown. The last time I was here visiting, I was still in the midst of chaos from that traumatic situation. Truthfully, I was nervous to come home because of that—I didn’t want to be there (mentally) again.

This morning I woke up before everyone else, pulled on my trail running shoes, and headed to my hometown’s lake. The marine layer was still covering everything in grey (my family is from California, about a half hour from the coast, so we have nice overcast mornings) as I began to run the hills around the lake. I had an earbud in one ear with a podcast playing. I enjoyed the native Californian plants that were so different from the foliage in Utah where I usually run. I looked out over the lake here and there, but was mainly focused on making sure I didn’t step on any snakes (I didn’t even see one, thank the heavens). I didn’t notice the temperature, but I noticed the sweat dripping into my eyes as I hit mile 2, and then the sweat pouring down me as I finished up at mile 2.8.

I stretched at a picnic bench overlooking the lake as sweat continued to drip down my face, and I felt ALIVE. I felt happy. The park was peaceful and quiet, and I briefly noticed, I didn’t seem to be wearing a sign anymore.

It felt like I had a full day ahead of me, and in each moment of the day, I could do something to feel good. I could choose to be happy—which I think I always try to do, but it’s a bit easier when that sign isn’t weighing me down, you know? I think that sign is made of concrete.

Maybe someday I’ll share that sign, but I’m grateful, even if just for a moment, to set it aside, with all the heaviness that comes with it.

Do you have a sign that you carry? Who do you choose to share it with? I know a lot of people who share seemingly everything, and people who quietly carry the greatest burdens and keep it all to themselves. I don’t think there’s a right way to do it, though I do think we should each be mindful of what is best for ourselves and for those around us.

I love this quote by BrenĂ© Brown: “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”

And if BrenĂ© Brown isn’t your thing, how about some Moana: “They have stolen the heart from inside you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.” (Cue the tears, EVERY. TIME.)

Whatever your sign or your story may be, I hope you find a way to make the heaviness lighter—whether that be sharing with the right people, working with a professional to help you process the heavy things, doing things you love to help lift your heart, or whatever it may be. You don’t have to carry your sign forever.

- Allie

1 comment:

ellen said...

Thanks for sharing this.