My friends love to tease me for my hippie-like tendencies. I meditate daily, study the teachings of The Buddha, and refuse to kill bugs on my bedroom wall (unless they’re mosquitos. I have a theory about why it’s okay to kill them…a different story for a different day.) I feel more at peace when I’m with nature, try to always speak with kindness and constantly strive to see the world through the eyes of whomever I meet. I go with the flow, write poems honoring simplicity and my flowy dresses permanently smell of incense.
But for a long time, I’ve failed, pretty consistently, in one aspect of the flowerchild existence. I just can not seem to let things go.
I don’t mean petty grudges, silly interpersonal drama or minor grievances about unkind words thrown in my direction. Those now wash away with one glass of wine and are forever forgotten.
I can’t let go of things that were once good.
In the past, I’ve waged toxic relationships far longer than I should have just for the mere hope that it could be good again. But as I’ve grown into a woman with a solid sense of self worth, kids who don’t want to play nicely no longer pose much of a threat to my well being.
What does pose a threat, however, is my unwillingness to move on from good things, that are still good, but just don’t fit anymore.
I have already written many lovely chapters of my life. Each and every one of them have starred characters, remarkable and imaginative, and have been ripe with comedy, a little tragedy, ever-present adventure, romance and near-constant growth.
Growth is essential in any good story. It is what propels us forward as human beings, making us more passionate, compassionate citizens of the world. It makes us crave more knowledge, strive for bigger and achieve greater. It is the main path to walk down for a happy life. But the side effect of growth is outgrowth.
All of those lovely chapters had to come to an end because I had outgrown the confinements of the structural outline. The heroine of my own story no longer fit within the paradigm of the written plot. So she had to go out and write something new.
As a writer, starting a new chapter is exciting, intoxicating even. It opens the door to endless possibility. A big blank page that you can make of what you will. But as a person with needs, fears and attachments, it’s intimidating. We have to leave something we know, something that has been good to us, something that once made us terribly happy… and for what? The unknown.
And the unknown has always carried with it an inherent feeling of dis-ease. What if we’ve got it as good as it’s going to get? What if we are making some sort of grave mistake?
It wasn’t until I started looking at change through the eyes of the heroine in my story that it began to look like an exciting challenge rather than an unwelcome eventuality. It became a test of my resilience. And even more than that, it became a necessity.
It was necessary for me to move to New York City to see if a life in the fashion industry was something I wanted (It wasn’t.) It was necessary for me to end a four year relationship that was deliberately organized to breed insecurity in me. And it was necessary for me to pack up and move to Italy a year ago. I needed the change, I needed the life I knew awaited me here and I needed the growth that would inevitably come with it.
I’ve found extraordinary happiness here, but recently, I’ve begun to feel restless. Like I’ve sucked out of Florence all that I have the capacity to absorb at this point in my life. I’ve made a lot of necessary changes here, but I’m ready to make more. My desire to grow further has started whispering; urging me to make a move. Find a new city that will steal my heart and allow me to grow as deeply and as profoundly.
For a serial clinger to the good ol’ days, the idea of leaving this magical place is riddled with anxieties and nostalgia. But the paradox is that the city I’m hesitant to leave is the same one that has helped me grow into the person who knows that not leaving would be a disservice to myself. It has fortified my propensity for throwing myself out of my comfort zone for the sake of personal growth. It has made me stop digging my heels and start spreading my wings.
There’s a lot of beauty in the comfort of connection. That’s why we make friends, hold jobs, entertain romances and put down roots in cities and towns. All of these relationships feed our souls, helping us to grow ever-closer to our full potential. And as we flourish, some of these things grow with us. But then, some of them don’t. Some of these allow us to grow only so much before they begin to hold us back, keeping us cemented in old ways; ones that are no longer conducive with continued expansion. Some, like weeds, may even wear a nice mask while they wrap around our roots, strangling the life out of us, intending for us to not only fail to grow, but to wilt in their shadow.
Hard as it is, we must learn to let go of them. We must learn to let go of cities that make us feel stagnant, the jobs that leave us unchallenged, and the people who don’t support our need for change and personal growth. Those things may have been good for the latter version of you, but this new one needs space that they just can’t give you.
Letting go may mean that some magnificent parts of your journey don’t make it to your next landing spot. But that doesn’t make them any less magnificent or you any less appreciative of their influence. It just means that you needed to make a little space on the page. You needed a backdrop and a cast that better suits the new developments in your character.
So now you’ve got a blank page, some room to grow and endless possibility. Where does your story lead you next?