It’s sort of awful when you realise you alone are responsible for your life. I know it sounds positive and empowering and what we all want but wouldn’t it also be nice if we could shirk our responsibility and blame someone –anyone – else when things don’t go to plan or all our good intentions come to naught. I’ve never felt more inept and incapable than I have since moving to New York. Also since coming to New York, I have never experienced more freedom to do whatever I wanted and more space to be present with and nurture myself.
So it’s been free but hard; frustrating but illuminating and mainly a time of growing up and becoming more adult-like. God, no one said how painful and scary that could be. We’re fed all the good stuff: independence, ability to choose what one wants to think, do, believe, eat; new and exciting vistas, places, people. But it also feels sad, sort of like a nostalgic grief for what came before the inevitable growing up: the comforts of everything you knew and the sad knowledge there’s no going back to that seemingly safer, before-adult time.
It’s also bloody scary. When you have responsibility and choice, it can be difficult to know what you want and what to choose and terrifying to not know if the choices we make are right or reasonable or just ludicrous. Of course if we could control everything maybe it would be easier, but on top of this need to make choices, we also don’t have control over what happens, so we can choose and put ideas and intentions and actions out there but who knows how things will turn out. Is it just me, or is life terrifying?
It makes me think of and long for the qualities in that quote: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
What I don’t particularly recommend is what I have been doing lately: thinking back on my life and wondering how different decisions could have taken me to different places. Aimlessly thinking if only I had done this or not done that doesn’t really get you anywhere. Mainly because it doesn’t honour where you are now, the lessons you have learnt, the person you have become.
So growing up, it’s hard to do. But maybe it’s not something that we have to do alone. A friend reminded me last week that even though it doesn’t always seem like it, everyone gets scared and goes through periods of uncertainty and fear and even darkness as we grow and evolve, make choices and respond to what life throws at us. And the more we can talk about it and acknowledge it and support each other through it, maybe the easier and more loving it is.