Just Right, Just Write

Well, hello internet. It's been a while, huh? Yes, I'm still here. Despite a near two year absence. ;)

What have I been up to since I last posted? Well, how much time do you have? To put it lightly, the last two years have held more change and growth than the first four of my twenties combined. And I'm so, so grateful for that. For a long time in my adolescence, I resisted change and clung to the things that made me feel comfortable and safe. It wasn't really until late spring 2016 that I finally gathered the courage to take the leap into the unknown and put some scary, necessary things into action. Once I did, though, the world opened up to me in a way it never had before.

The catalyst to all this change was the overwhelming feeling that this - where I was at that point in my life - couldn't be all there was. My life was fine, but it didn't thrill me. It was a quiet existence, marked by morning exercise, daytime work, and evenings of alone time. I was scared to put myself out there, and honestly didn't even know where to begin.

Then, seemingly all at once, a series of events made it impossible for me to stay inactive. Life, probably tired of me waiting around for something to happen, gave me the tough-love push I needed. In the course of two months I adopted puppy, ended my high school relationship, moved into a new apartment, started a new job, and met someone who is now one of my very closest friends. It was just as scary and overwhelming as I thought it would be, but wonderful just the same.

Summer 2016 held a lot. A lot of fun, a lot of newness, a lot of learning and unlearning. For the first time since I was 17, I found myself dating someone new. For the first time since moving to Charleston, I found myself going on almost-daily adventures around town while getting to know a new friend. For the first time since graduating college, I found myself navigating the waters of a leadership position at a brand new job.

I'll remember that crazy summer fondly for the rest of my life. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like was awake- making active decisions and purposefully walking down a new path. I felt so proud of myself for taking the drivers seat in my life once again. For refusing to settle for comfortable and pushing myself to try new things. I simultaneously felt like an adult, living life on my own terms, and an unsupervised kid in a candy store, eyes wide, trying everything and anything that caught my eye.

I hope everyone has a season like this in their life. A season for trying and, very often, failing. A season where you don't let fear stop you from making some risky decisions. A season where, quite honestly, you're selfish- figuring out what makes you feel happy and fulfilled (and more importantly, what doesn't). It's these times that guide you to who you really are and who you want to be as an adult. Without them, you stay stuck - the one thing that scares me more than failure and disappointment.

Things calmed down a bit after that summer, but I was definitely changed forever. I realize some behaviors that weren't serving my highest purpose, and left them behind. I also realized some things I was newly passionate about and wanted to continue to explore. I changed jobs again, traveled a lot, and slowly but surely refined the wildness of the summer into something more manageable. Still pushing the boundaries, but also realizing that boundaries are sometimes good and necessary.

If I could sum up the next season - most of 2017 - in one phrase it would be this: "listen to your gut". For a long, long time I had this feeling, this thought that I just couldn't shake and had to continually work to ignore. I became an expert at convincing myself that what I was doing was the right thing and that this gut feeling was wrong. Looking back, it's honestly saddening that I wasn't brave or sure of myself enough to act on it the first time I felt it.

However, it was such a lesson because ultimately my gut feeling was 100% accurate. It took me a little over a year to finally accept and act on my intuition, but in that time I learned a valuable lesson that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life. If I could tell you anything, it would be that your instincts mean something. If you can't stop thinking about something, even if it's scary and leads to an unknown future, it means something. Please don't wait years before acting on it.

When I finally acted on the decision I'd been fighting so long, the world opened up once again. It's truly amazing how, when you stop fighting the path the universe is urging you to follow, things naturally fall into place. After so many experiences like this, I've become a deep believer in manifestation- that you get from the world what you believe in and seek out.

The second half of 2017 was all about developing amazing friendships, being single for the first extended time since I was a teenager, and learning more about myself than I had before. For once, I didn't run from loneliness or sadness or unrest. I sat in those feelings, processed them, and grew up a lot in the process. Self-care and a spending time alone in order to get to know yourself is so necessary and valuable. I'm so grateful to have had this season of personal growth and development.

So far, 2018 has been one of the best years I've ever experienced. It's honestly felt like the culmination of so many years of self exploration- of trying and failing and making mistakes and course correcting. One late-January afternoon, after years of wanting to live downtown, my roommate and I found the most adorable apartment (it has a porch!) with a landlord who was, shockingly, willing to hold for us until May. That same evening, I went on the best first date of my life with an amazing guy who is now boyfriend. It's like, after all those years of refusing to settle, the universe was finally saying "yes, this is where you're supposed to be- enjoy it". I'm incredibly grateful and not taking a single second of it for granted.

Sitting here now, at twenty-six (and a half!) years old, I feel at once settled and anticipatory. I'm blessed with some incredible friends, a great apartment, a boyfriend who is better than anyone I could have dreamed up. At the same time, though, things are in the midst of shifting and changing. Some close friends are considering making big moves, some are newly engaged. Some are starting new jobs or taking big trips. Personally, I'm in the midst of a career change and trying to figure out what my next professional steps will be. So many things feel like they're about to happen. Like we're the brink of so much. It's a season I already know I'll look back on fondly.

In a way, it feels like a season characterized as one last hurrah of being a "young" adult. My close friends are starting to get married, taking jobs with more responsibility, graduating from Master's programs and starting new careers. They're about to start buying houses and making  "grown up" decisions- it's a lot. At one point in my life this would have overwhelmed me, but I honestly feel ready for what's ahead. Getting older is weird for sure, but I've found there comes a point where you just know it's the right time to take the next step.

Why? Because there's nothing scarier to me than being "stuck"- stuck in a job you hate, in a city, you've outgrown, in a relationship that doesn't lift you up, in a mindset that doesn't serve you. I'm a little self-help/improvement obsessed and truly believe in constantly evaluating yourself and changing things to grow into the person you're meant to be.

In the last couple months, I've realized (for the millionth time) I feel most like "myself" when I'm writing and sharing my heart/encouraging others- letting them know they're not alone. It's my favorite thing. The thing I'm most proud of. The thing that makes my heart beat faster. The thing I could spend countless hours doing without even realizing a minute had passed.

I believe that everyone is born with something unique to contribute to the world. Something that the world needs that only they can give. We're not here, on this planet at this time in history, by accident. Even if it seems silly, if it brings you joy and fills you up, it's valuable. You are valuable. Your voice, your contribution, your life- matter. More than you can grasp.

Long(gggg) story short: despite falling away and starting again, my goal is to begin writing and sharing here more frequently. I've cycled through seasons of writing and not writing plenty of times, but this time feels different. Mostly because I'm with someone who constantly encourages me to get back into the practice of getting my thoughts on paper (err, screen), solely because he knows how much it means to me. I'm so, so deeply grateful for that.

So! Here's to new beginnings. To a new season. To growing and changing for the millionth time. It feels so right, to write. ;) See you soon!

- Lanie W.

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