My fingers were immediately drawn to the pink eraser that a St. Mark’s school girl had carefully stood up in the corner of the pencil tray in the hollow of her desk. It wasn’t one of those rectangular salmon-colored erasers with the sloped ends that felt grainy to the touch; no, this one was oval, ballet slipper colored, and powdery smooth like my Cabbage Patch Kid’s cheek. And while my CCD teacher stood at the front of the room telling us third-graders a story about the Tower of Babel, I slipped that eraser into my hand—and then into the arch of my Top-Sider shoe.
From first through eleventh grade, I sat through these weekly religious ed classes—distracted, bored, and tuned out. All those stories of fear, of wrath, of shame and helplessness sat uneasily within me. Nothing about it felt good—or believable—to me. While the formality and the top-down belief system of organized religion doesn’t work for me, you can’t stand on a yoga mat and bring your palms together time and again without feeling something come over (and overcome) you. What 20 years on the mat has taught me is this: I believe in me.
It has taken me decades to get to this place. Decades. For much of my life, I compared myself—my trajectory, my possessions, and my talents—to you. The “yous” I know and the ones I don’t. Those old feelings of fear and shame still sat uneasily within me. I tried shake off this pattern by telling myself to “fake it ’til I make it” or to “just do it,” but none of that worked. I couldn’t believe in the artificial me, nor could I continue believing that my life was in any way inferior—just because I hadn’t followed certain conventions. Doing so felt toxic, inside and out.
I don’t believe in placing blame. Not on my lineage. Not on my ex. Not on society. And not on me. All of life is just a learning opportunity. There is no arrival. There is no “making it”—even now, living with my boyfriend. Some might see this milestone as a “hooray, we made it.” And, indeed, it is good. So good. But I have to keep reminding myself that this, too, is a lesson. It’s just that not all lessons need to come with tears or heartache or feeling lost or second-rate. It is possible to vulnerable and emotionally wide open with a big, authentic smile across your face. So, that’s what I’m doing—because I believe in me.
All along, I’ve had a vision of what I wanted my “happily ever after” to look like. But I hit the off switch on that vision ages ago—and had thought that I’d come to peace with that decision. No so. Now, here I am playing that vision over and over again in my head and my heart, treating it like a coming attraction to a blockbuster movie. I’m waking up to my own dreams.
Letting go of expectations has been a big part of my journey these last 10.5 months—and gathering the courage embrace uncertainty is the outcome of years of introspection, both on the yoga mat and with a notebook and pen in hand. But in the process of letting go of expectations, I’ve remained steadfast to my vision.
I believe we should all have a dream for ourselves. A big and beautiful dream. Let it play out like a scene in a breathtaking movie. Play it a million times over, until you memorize every word, bat of an eyelash, and knowing smile. Smell it, taste it, feel it. Let it lull you to sleep. Let it greet you in the morning. Let it get you through those quiet, lonely moments and accompany you when times are good. Let it because you have nothing left to lose. Let it because you have everything to gain. Let it because this is your one, precious life and making it epic is your soul’s mission.
Let your life be everything you’ve ever dreamed of—and surprise yourself when it’s even more than you imagined. Trust it will happen, even when reality seems to be telling you otherwise. And don’t take any part of it for granted as that vision comes to life.
That’s what I choose to believe.