If I went back, and met myself again at the beginning of last year, I don’t think I would have recognized myself now. While it feels like time is just flying by, at the same time so many changes are going on that if I blink I might just miss a major chunk of my life. One of the most painful parts of growing up is saying goodbye to your younger self… even when it was someone you don’t want to be, it still hurts. With a new year and a new age, I couldn’t help but reflect a little on recent history and lessons, and I realized that I was going to make a small resolve. I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, however, I discovered this one at Christmas so maybe I can avoid classifying it there.

            While helping a friend at a refugee Christmas dinner, I somehow ended up at the crafts table. Enter an image of pure chaos: stickers, glue, paper, scissors, markers, and crayons everywhere. My organized soul was slightly conflicted, but I just sat back and watched for a while. As I bent over to pick up one of the many abused glue sticks that had made friends with gravity and the bustling floor, I glanced at the small shoes of the many young artists at work above and it clicked for me. Yes, it was a mess. But those children were living. They were enjoying the craziness, their families, friends, and new people. They were expressing themselves through splashes of color, geometric images, and strings of beads. Just because they had had hard times in the past, and an uncertain future, wasn’t stopping them from living now. Why is it that little children teach me the most obvious life lessons?

            Over the last year, I had wanted to be less on edge, more flexible and relaxed, more spontaneous. But in reflecting on what had happened, I see where I failed. While I did breathe a bit more, take more chances, and try new things, I wasn’t willing to embrace the messiness. Stopping to breathe means missed opportunities. Taking chances means getting hurt. Trying new things means finding stuff you don’t like. Life got crazy in lots of ways, and while I didn’t necessarily fight it, I still wasn’t accepting it. Order, plans, and control have been my comfort zone, and welcoming in chaos was not my cup of tea. However, without accepting my life as it was, I also could not bring it to its full potential. So now, I want to enjoy the mess. Life isn’t going to be pretty, but I’m willing now to let that go.

            As much as I’m not a huge fan of being “picture perfect”, I think deep down we all do value our public image. How often do we post that hipster perfect aesthetic picture of lunch, our best friend, a fluffy animal, or unique cup of coffee? Do we think other people really care to see these details of our daily lives? Do you check your feed because you actually want to know what John is eating today, or how Jane did her makeup? Yes, there are a small handful of people for whom we’d actually keep up with those details, but chances are for the majority of people you’re following, this is not the case. Even so, if we are going to share anything about our lives, it has to look good, or as everyone expects it to. I sometimes wonder if people are really as happy as they make it seem. Cause if I’m honest, for me, the most painful things during the harder times last year, was watching people I once knew posting about how fabulously their lives were going. Fact is, most of social media becomes a comparison game for a while. I’m thrilled so many people are finding their soul mates, that their children are the best thing that has ever happened to them, that the world is being explored and seen, and that they discovered their life purpose or passion… but where is the mess? Where is the pain? Where is the failure with the success? I see it every day when looking around me, at real people, but not online.

            While in a face to face encounter there is an accountability and trust built between people, we are not as comfortable being vulnerable in front of an unseen audience. But for each face behind a screen there is still a soul. In our quest to make sure we look good, right, and trendy, we neglect to be ourselves. Where is the awkward, broken, and confused? Cause for every sexy picture, I can guarantee there was an unattractive one. And for every engagement announced in the last couple months, there were probably two breakups. For every exciting change, an emotional breakdown. For each reunion, a lonely night crying alone. Life is full of balancing experiences that make up the wonderful adventure.

So as I look around and see how crazy things are getting, I want to let go of the pictures I’ve been holding onto. As markers get mixed matched, scissors are left unsafely open, and glue is smeared everywhere, I plan to enjoy the art. Without looking back at the scarring experiences of the past, and without stressing on the uncertainty of the future, I intend to take each day as the adventure it is, with hope, opportunity, love, some trouble, and a whole lot of color.

 

Published by Naylen Feria