For being a girl that suffers from a serious case of the travel-bug, I far too often forget the significance of taking vacations and getting away from my usual environment. The significance can sometimes come in new memories and fun adventures that are added to the storybook of your life, and other times the significance comes from new lessons or a new understanding of you who are as a person.
The past weekend, Kathrine and I traveled to LA to visit a friend. Without a doubt new memories and adventures were created but upon my return home, a new lesson was learned.
I learned that over the past year I have allowed the influence of people in my life to turn me into someone I am not. And to make matters worse, I realized last night that this person I had become had even convinced my very best friend that this was who I was and how I was going to be for the rest of our lives. Well newsflash: It's not.
Over the year, I became cynical, judgmental, rude, unfriendly, closed-off, angry, selfish, and just flat out ridiculous.
If you knew me in college or before, you know that the one quality above that existed in me before this past year was the judgmental one. Yet, even though judgmental, I never let it affect the way that I treated others nor did it ever stop me from becoming friends with someone.
A few summers ago, I had a big life change when a relationship with a boy I was dating for over a year ended. He was my best friend at the time and although he was a great guy and boyfriend, after a trip to Florida, I was at a different place in life and I knew we wanted different things. I felt trapped and I didn't even know it until I literally got out of town. I remember that one thing I specifically wanted was to go out, meet new people and do new things. So that whole summer, that is exactly what I did. Struggling from the hardships/awkwardnesses of a break-up, my best friends and I rallied and had a summer we will never forget. We made friends with so many people and made memories that I wouldn't trade the world for.
The point of that story is this: A week ago, before my trip to LA, I found out that there were a lot of other people visiting our friend at the same time we were there. When I heard the news, I mumbled, groaned and complained. All I wanted was a trip to get away and not have to deal with people. I wrote an email to my boyfriend, Dave, asking him in a "joking but serious" manner to pray for me. You would have thought I was told I was going to be hanging out with Obama or something in the way my attitude about the trip changed. (No- I don't want to hang out with Obama. Ever. )
Fast forward to the end of the trip on Sunday- Kat and I had a blast. I loved everybody I met and was energized from being around new people. I was telling Dave about my trip and how it was so nice to get away and hang out with new people. He said, "yea-when I get your email, it disheartened me a little bit because that's not you." Ahhhhh- the moment when words are said that mean little to the deliver but change the world of the receiver.
I had been trapped and I completely forgot, once again, who I was.
This past year has been hard. Although one of the best in many ways, it has also been the hardest for me personally in relationships, friendships, growth, and I guess just growing up. I let the hard parts get to me. You know all those quotes that talk about not letting the world harden you? Yea, well I did that and I didn't even know it. It was in such a passive way that I was blind to it, my best friend was blind to it, and although he never doubted me or us, Dave probably just wondered "what the heck is going on?"
At some point, I started letting my circumstances define me. Negative circumstances brought on negative feelings about myself and about others. I was once again trapped in this place where I wasn't being me and I wasn't being a daughter that my Heavenly Father, would be proud of.
This vacation to LA got me out of my trap just like my vacation a few summers ago got me out of one. I love what Neil Gaiman says, "Wherever you go, you take yourself with you." Not only do I believe it is true, I am so very thankful that it is. Not matter where I go, the real me, all of me, will always be there. Most of my life, I have always liked my personality and be proud of who I was. But over the past year, I have spent more times than not, not liking myself and not proud of myself because of my circumstances and what they brought out of me.
Getting away, I got to see the girl I used to be proud of. The girl that loves meeting new people, loves trying new things, is out-going, friendly and accepting. The girl that is happy more than she is not. The girl that not only sees the best in people but works to bring that out of people. I came home knowing it was time for a different kind of break-up but one, that none-the-less, put me back on the path of being and becoming someone not only I am proud but that my family, friends, boyfriend, and most importantly, my Heavenly Father is proud of.
I don't know if this relates to any of you but if you get one thing out of this- don't be like me and check you in your circumstances. Are you being a product of your circumstances? Are you proud of who you are? If this means you need to get away, then get away. Traveling is important. Seeing yourself in new, different situations may bring out a side of you you didn't know you had but one that you may love. Or it may remind you of who you once were or better yet, give you a picture of who you want to be.
It's a win-win either way. You just gotta do it.
Have patience with all things- but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.