Q's Letter | January 2023 | Let's Go.

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I'm writing to you from the crossroads. I've arrived here after two years of arduous travel during which I have felt irretrievably lost for most of the time. Today I'm feeling relieved, and also, understandably exhausted from my journey.

It feels like the moments one experiences just after giving birth: joy at having survived something so harrowing, so intensely painful, combined with a tangible release as the body begins to reclaim itself and heal from the process. Underlining all of it is the holy knowledge that something has changed forever.

Before I started on this journey, I was in a prolonged state of discontent for several years. In retrospect I realize that it was because I’ve spent my entire life adhering to values, standards and ideals that don't actually belong to me. My jobs, relationships, even my choices about my personal appearance had always been dictated in large part by social norms that I had no input into creating. I took what was given, I tried to make it work. That was how I lived for four decades on this planet. It's not unusual.

Even if we want to build our lives in the way that best suits us, most of us aren't actually even sure who we are and what we really want. I certainly wasn't. I accepted the definitions and confines imposed on me by my social environments, moving (sometimes literally) from place to place trying to find acceptance by contorting myself into things I could never be. (The really shitty part is that I was good at it.) I didn't love myself enough to even find out what was important to me.

One of the downsides to being tribal creatures is that we don't give ourselves and others the space and resources to figure ourselves out; to determine exactly what makes us different, and to nurture the important parts of us that don't conform. Some of us will live our entire lives like this. Few of us welcome this urge in ourselves, or others.

I had a bit of an epiphany somewhere along the way: the shitty systems of the world run on our misdirected energies. For, if you know yourself – truly – then no one can exploit you, force you to submit, or demand from you the sacrifice of what makes you irreplaceably YOU.

Last summer my therapist asked me, “What do you want?”

This question has been my central preoccupation for months. What do I want? What is the life I want to create for myself? What is worth my time and energy?

The more I'm learning to love myself (yay therapy!) the more I realize that my insatiable desire for external approval and my ability to code switch like a motherfucker has kept me from ever asking that question, much less trying to find an answer to it. At forty-eight years old, I had no actual earthly idea what I really wanted from life except, of course, where the health and safety of my family was concerned.

Today, I'm thrilled to tell you that I have a pretty good idea of who I am and what I want my life to be. I know what I want to do. I know where I want to go.

This has been made possible through a lot of strenuous introspection, therapy, and the love and support of my family and friends. Real love and support. The kind that honors the parts of me that don't conform, and genuinely wants me to be happy.

I've also got half a lifetime of solid experience as a human being under my belt; a fine home; and enough youth and vitality left that I can apply myself and make some pretty quick gains to boost my momentum.

So, today I'm standing at the crossroads. I'm relieved, and I'm tired. I've picked my direction. I'm taking a moment for myself to breathe deeply, get centered, and prepare for the next, first step.

Are you ready? Let's go.

~ Q.

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