At the risk of sounding negative and petulant and all the things I’ve been trying to avoid on this blog for the past three years, I’m going to admit something: This year has not been an easy one for me.
I always thought growing up meant getting to know yourself and settling into a life-long sort of routine, not just in outside things like when you wake up in the morning and where you buy your gas, but internally. I thought I’d reach a point in my late twenties or early thirties when everything about me just clicked and settled into place, and I could get comfortable with who I am and what I think and want and sort of “cruise” through anything life might throw at me.
Okay, so I never “thought” this in so many words, but I definitely carried the idea around with me in my subconscious, and I sort of staked a lot of my plans on it.
I’ll get serious about pursuing my vocation when I’m finally grown up, I thought.
I’ll be more comfortable in my own skin and have an easier time facing things like confrontation, leadership, suffering, and (gulp) relationships when I’m finally grown up.
I’ll be worthy, when I’m finally grown up.
I’ve always known life and outside circumstances can throw all sorts of curveballs our way, but I thought as long as I could maintain a good grip on myself, everything else would be okay. It never occurred to me that I might be my own biggest curveball.
Not until I found myself sitting on my bed in the dark one Friday night this past spring, surrounded by a pile of clothes I’d tried on and decided against, dreading the prospect of smiling and chatting my way through yet another crowded house party. Five years ago I would have killed to have the social life I have now. On this particular night, I would’ve sold my right arm for the promise of a few hours’ peace and solitude. But we were the hosts, and already I heard guests arriving downstairs. And I lost it. I sat up there for at least half an hour, sobbing over everything and getting angry with myself for losing it and completely unable to figure out why I couldn’t just get it together and drag my butt downstairs and have a good time. I finally had to sneak out of the house for an hour, and showed up late to my own party, with a brave enough face that I didn’t frighten off too many of the guests. But my own inability to control my reaction that evening really scared me.
Apparently, no matter how hard we try, we never have complete control over ourselves. Sickness, physical incapacity, emotional disturbances, mental unrest all just happen, and they force us to see ourselves as we really are, not as we’d like to be. I have discovered this year that no matter how hard I try to build fences and construct barriers and make my own personal corner of the universe safe and pleasant and full of nice people and things that make me comfortable, I can’t change the fact that I am not and never will be perfect.
The worst part? Apparently I’m the only one who’s been fooled into thinking I might be, or at least I might be close.
As I wrote recently, it’s been a humbling year. It’s been a year of learning how to ask for help, or at the very least to admit that I need it. It’s been a year of letting people see me cry. It’s been a year of taking criticism and critique as an opportunity to become better, instead of letting it cripple me. It’s been a year of letting myself voice an opinion or a desire or a need without apologizing for it. It’s been a year of going on dates even though I tend to find them uncomfortable. It’s been a year of asking family and friends for prayers on the really tough days.
I’m not there yet, but I want to look back later in life and see this as the year that I finally learned, as St. Paul says, to “boast in my weakness.” I don’t know where I’m going or what my Vocation will look like, but I do know that I will be a weak, sinful, redeemed woman, in every circumstance. I’d like this year to be the turning point in a life that bears fruit because I’ve finally, finally begun to understand that I’m a hot mess.
Yet somehow, I’m still worthy of love in spite of it.