John Lennon sang ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans¹.’
I think it is a pretty safe bet to say that so far, this year has not exactly gone the way I planned. One minute there I was, travelling along everything being fine and dandy and then the next minute it wasn’t and all it took was a trigger and off I was – on a totally different path. As result I missed out on a much desired job opportunity, deadline after deadline on my book’s journey to publication, a horseback adventure in Montana and most poignantly a dear friend’s very special birthday celebration.
You can run but you can’t hide. How honest are we really? We go about our lives projecting ourselves as people we want to be perceived as, this generally means trying to disguise our flaws. I know I have. My act has always been ‘I’m fine’ and anything less than fine in my mind was a sign of weakness or failure. I have never been good at dealing with the icky stuff. When something bad happens to me, I tend to put on a brave face and carry on. And this act served me just fine for a very long time. Even I was duped into believing it. Only it didn’t really. What I didn’t understand was that not dealing with ‘life’ as it happened was creating chaos in my head. So when my latest detour started it all came crashing down into one hot crazy mess and when putting on a brave face and carrying on didn’t work, I was left with no choice but to clean up the mess.
We all know life doesn’t play by any rules and that ultimately we have little to no control over outcomes. What we can be confident of is that there will be plenty of detours in life and detours, by their very nature are unexpected and not always easy to navigate through. While my detour may have started horrendously² I’ve come to see this detour as good and necessary – here’s why:
Embrace the detour I’m the chick that sticks to routines and gains genuine pleasure from ticking things off my to-do list. Any shift to my routine tends to make me come undone but this time after initial kicking and screaming I embraced my detour with an open and positive mind. By doing this I learnt that routine can be just as negative as it is positive, for by sticking to routines, we close ourselves off from exciting opportunities and even better ways of doing things.
Try saying ‘I don’t know’ more often When I was busy living the ‘I’m fine’ way of life, it became nay impossible to ask for help. Why would I ever be in a position to need help if I am always fine? By opening up and getting the help I needed I feel honest for the first time in my life and being able to say ‘I don’t know’ has been life changing simply because quite frankly how much do we really know?
You had the power all along my dear Although I have had loads of help through my detour (by way of comprehensive therapy) it was ultimately me who did the work and it is the very same me that has come out the other end pretty much intact and this is an incredibly empowering feeling. After all how you choose to respond to life is all that matters don’t you think?
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes I did not choose to be on my detour and it has been about as far from being on holiday that you could possibly get, in fact at one time ‘hell’ would have been an accurate description of where I felt I was. I have run a whole gamut of feelings these last few months: I’ve gone from feeling scared, anxious hopeless, angry, helpless to being emotionally drained and completely broken to feeling (believe me I know how cheesy this sounds but I can’t stop using the word) renewed.
Eye on the prize I might not be where I wanted to be but I’ve never been more clearer about who I am and more focused about the future.
I end this with some words that came to me via a good friend, words which provided me much comfort during my detour ‘For I know the plans I have for you declares The Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11.
Here I am… Girl, Interrupted. Proof positive the universe always has your back.