Monday, July 12, 2010

Saying Goodbye

I was given a bit of shock today, as I found out that I have to say goodbye to something that has been a part of my life for over 5 years. I must say that even though I wasn't all too surprised, the suddenness of it all really rocked me to my core. A year ago the stress of the situation would have probably made me crack. After all, I've got a much more solid foundation now than I did a year ago at this time, and it still threw me for a loop. It's funny how you can find yourself taking things for granted, only to have them pulled out from under you going "what just happened?" Come to think of it, I guess that's usually how it goes. The initial shock lasted about 45 minutes while I had this deer-in-the-headlights sort of feeling. "Did I really just have that conversation? I must have been dreaming." The tears that were shed were shed out of sadness, but also out of a sense of feeling like I had just been personally attacked and left for dead. I couldn't help but feel like my whole world was going to tumble down all around me.

After the shock wore off, I found myself falling into a loop of desperation - it's so-and-so's fault, and this thing happened that had nothing to do with me - that I have seen in other people and have despised them for having that attitude. I definitely played the blame game, and as I did, it was almost like I was watching myself from the outside. I didn't recognize myself and certainly didn't like myself in that moment. Although I have endured many things in my life that could easily allow me to play the victim card, I for one was not going to allow myself to go that way. Yes, the situation sucks. And yes, chances are when I have the conversation that is unavoidable, I am going to find out things about myself that I didn't want to know.

But I ultimately believe that this is how people grow and learn. We get too comfortable with ourselves and how we operate, and life has this funny way of coming along and reminding you that we must forever be vigilant about ourselves and our actions. Getting comfortable means getting sloppy, and once you get sloppy, you make mistakes. Isn't that what being human is all about - making mistakes and learning from them? The thing that is different between last year and now is that I'm armed with tools to help me cope with it. Last year, my stress levels were already operating at 80% capacity 24/7. I was overworked, tired, and on edge at all times. Now that I have gotten used to the stressors that caused my brain to overload, I have had time to re-evaluate how I react to the world around me. I recognized that I could no longer continue on the path that I was taking. Stress was taking its toll on me and the people around me that I love.

So now, faced with this challenge that has happened, all I can do is move forward. Forward into a world where I mitigate what can be mitigated, serve penance for my mistakes, and grow as a person. I'm not going to blame everyone and everything around me for what has happened. While circumstances arose that ultimately led to this point, no one circumstance or person can be blamed, including myself. What I will also not refuse to do is take a long, honest, hard look at myself and the mistakes I have made that were contributing factors to this goodbye. To turn a blind's eye to one's faults is to never learn from our mistakes, never grow as a person. I don't want that for myself. I'm short enough as it is.

And what about this goodbye? It's strange. I have mixed feelings. I know that I will learn from this situation, and ultimately it will help me be a better person in the long run. But at the same time, I am saddened to have to let go of something that has been a part of me for so long. It was there when I took my first steps, learning day-by-day what it is to be who I am. It was there as I endured the growing pains of pushing myself beyond what I thought my preparation taught me. Could it be that this goodbye was meant to be - a casualty of those growing pains? I may never know the answer to that question. One day in the future, as I look back on this situation I hope that I can say that this goodbye, as painful as it is, has taught me to push the envelope, reminded me to keep a watchful eye, and made me a better person. For now, saying goodbye has taught me that I still have a lot to learn, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A New Year, A New Decade, A New Beginning

I kind of think it's funny that we as humans put such emphasis on the passage of a year, a decade, or even a millennium. Remember the panic that was Y2K? Hard to believe it was a decade ago. :-P I wonder what it is in our nature that makes us place such significance on the passing of one second in time. Because really, that's what it all comes down to - one second. (I suppose I could make the argument that it comes down to a femtosecond, but really.. who counts down in femtoseconds besides the occasional physicist?) When the clock strikes 00:00:00, you're a year older (in the case of your birthday), it's a new year (in the case of January 1), and everything is supposed to change. When the clock strikes 00:00:00 on your 18th birthday, you can all of a sudden buy cigarettes, vote, and join the military. One second stands in the way of whether or not you can legally order a drink at a bar. Yet I'm susceptible to the same labeling scheme as the rest of us. This year, one second meant making (and keeping) a New Year's resolution for me.

So what is it that keeps us coming back to the turning of a year? And what is it that makes us believe that the passing of a year is the best time to make new beginnings, new resolutions? What is to prevent us from making those resolutions at any time of the year? What is preventing us from deciding that, right at this moment is the best time to take charge of our lives and our destinies, rather than waiting for some perceived significant passing of one second?

I made a resolution this year for myself, despite that in past years I didn't even believe in them. Why the sudden change in heart? I realized that the reason why I didn't make them in the past is the same reason why I decided to make one this year. I've always wondered about the New Year's resolution phenomenon. I thought "why wait until now?" And then I realized that I was always waiting for some significant time to make a change in my life - until I reached a certain milestone in age, until work settled down and wasn't so hectic. Was it really all that different than making a resolution? Not really. Our lives are short. The average life span of an American woman is 79 years, which is 2,491,344,000 seconds. We spend 30% of our lives sleeping, leaving 1,743,940,800 seconds of our waking time. Approximately another 30% is spent at work. That leaves 1,220,758,560 seconds for me to do what I chose over my lifetime. Now, given my age, I have slightly over half of my life left. Divide my free seconds in half, and I'm left with 732,455,136 seconds.

Given the availability of seconds left in my lifetime, do I want to wait for some perceived significant time in my life (a promotion, a new pet, more time, etc) to decide that I want to make a change? No! So, I guess I really have made two resolutions for myself this year. The first is to finally make the changes in my life that will leave me healthier and 35 lbs lighter. The other is to not wait for some "significant point" in my life to decide I want to change something. Life is just too short to make excuses or "wait" to make changes.