I’m more than a month late in publishing this, not because it wasn’t written on the last day of August, but because I wasn’t ready to end my project. I have fought this moment for a while now. I’d stated I would write for only a month and accomplish all these things, and to do anything different felt like I wasn’t following through with what I promised. But as I previously wrote, I should feel empowered to change my mind when I need to, which I have, and since I’m a work in progress, there’s no reason why I can’t continue writing and posting without a big master plan like I had when I began. Sometimes life gets simpler as you live it, and you are the one making it more difficult than it needs to be.
Knowing when to end something isn’t easy. We like to hold onto things we’ve invested time and energy on, regardless of if they can sustain us or support our well-being. Generally, we weigh the benefits against the impacts and losses to decide if it’s time to step away or continue. Sometimes, we plan the closing before anything even begins, due to fear, pre-conceived notions, and an inability to let our guard down based on our previous experiences. Other times, we can’t close ourselves off and end the interactions because they, or the persons in them, have imprinted on us somehow, which we don’t or can’t let go of easily. Then there are the times when others decide to end, and we aren’t ready, or even willing to accept the terms, but have no choice for, or rights to request, another outcome.
With all endings, there are feelings involved. Whether they are good or bad depends on the experience itself and the factors surrounding how the end came to fruition. Unless there’s a natural feeling that something has run its course, an ending can feel like a failure or a rejection of your efforts. The finality of a moment can be palpable.
I’ve had many people come in and out of my life, each one I learned from in some way, shape, or form. I get to know who they are, their behaviors, their perspectives on life and see them react to the world around them. I learn a lot about people just by paying attention to them, something we often think we do but aren’t doing. When you have so many come in and out of your life, as I have, you begin to identify patterns.
I’ve learned to assess the moment people enter my life and can usually tell if they will be around for a little or a long time. It isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy situation; I just learned over the years what to look out for, small mannerism or tone changes, to give me a heads up before it can surprise me. Sometimes I try to fight the finality, for any number of reasons, and it usually does nothing positive for me or anything to change what seems to be a predestined course. My real talent is at the moment someone casually says “bye” and sensing when the goodbye is a final one, even when the person hasn’t come to terms with or acknowledged it yet.
When I step back from my day-to-day excessive granular thoughts and look at the bigger picture, I think about how all things will eventually end (other than some scientific topics that I won’t get into). You and everyone in your life will leave at some point, and there is nothing we can do to stop that from happening. While it’s a scary thought at first, it does bring me some comfort because it makes me focus on the now more and cherish what I have today. The only thing we can’t get back is time, so don’t waste it.
This project has brought me a lot of clarity. I’m more confident in speaking up for myself, asking for what I need, and stating my boundaries. I don’t feel as much shame with how I think or how I want to express my feelings anymore, even if it may be unconventional. I’ve learned how to assess my reaction in the moment and identify what I need to move forward in it. It’s not all set in stone yet, but I see a difference in my day-to-day with how I interact with people. It’s much easier for me to stand up for myself, something I have struggled with all my life.
Looking back across my writings the past month, I feel like I’ve come a long way, though I don’t feel like I’ve changed in any significant way yet. However, I may be too close to be able to assess my progress adequately. The most significant change is that I fear less, I hope more, and I have a greater appreciation for myself and how I got to where I am. I know I’m more equipped to handle what life throws at me, but it will take work to stay on a positive course and continue growing. Sometimes we think that we get to an age, and “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks,” as if there is a barrier from continuing our personal and emotional development. I think the opposite.
When you get to a certain age or live through so many experiences, you get to a point where you’ve been equipped to take on whatever the world throws at you. It’s your choice, whether to do something with all the skills life taught you, or succumb to a finality you manufactured in your mind. We all can make change happen for ourselves and others. Don’t give up on finding your happily ever after.