It’s hard to believe that another month has passed. And not just any month, but September. The month that means back to school for all the kiddos and the shift from summer to fall (although the weather doesn’t always cooperate with the desire for sweaters, fall leaves, and pumpkin things…for those that like pumpkin things), my birthday, and this year, a really big transition. Turning 35 in and of itself this year feels significant; ‘5’ birthdays always do for some reason. The middle of that particular decade, the in between of early 30s and late 30s, the time suspended between past and future with an expansive breath of present. It feels as if it doesn’t quite have a spot, it just sits in-between, and in the in-between, I sit with it.
This September has brought something else that I hadn’t quite expected: a need to find and rediscover home.
Home is difficult word to define, a complex concept to unpack. Depending on one’s perception of “home”, the idea can come with comfort and safety for some, fear and painful memories for others. Home can be thought of as a physical location—your current address, the town of your childhood, a frequented park or coffee shop, a favorite corner in the library. It can also be with a person or particular group of people. Sometimes that is biological family. Sometimes it is chosen family. Sometimes it is a close friend, a partner, a teacher or mentor. Sometimes it is a pet. Like the song says, “Home, let me go home. Home is wherever I’m with you.” In understanding home beyond the place we live, it can offer more people, including those without a technical home, the hope for a sense of settledness.
I think what makes the idea of home so significant is its correlation with protection, rest, and belonging. It can be the reminder that we come from somewhere and we have somewhere to go. Having a sense of home is a privilege, a gift, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. There are many people that are searching for some sense of home, with the possibility that it may never be found. Those that are displaced physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. In a renewed world, all people, all things, would have a home, and it could be said that it is good. In the world we live in, that isn’t always the reality. I know it’s not for me right now.
Rediscovering home wasn’t something that I anticipated this September. I knew that this season and transition would be filled with new ways of being and doing, with grief, with a different kind of freedom, but finding home wasn’t a part of that. I didn’t feel the profundity and gracious gift that a good home could be until it was no more. Isn’t it just like that? You don’t know what you’ve got, ’til it’s gone. Or in my case, changed. It wasn’t until the last week of September that it hit me, that I realized how much of this chapter has been difficult because of not quite knowing what, where, or who to call home.
It slowly started unfurling as I realized how difficult it has been to fully commit to living in my apartment. In my mind I wanted to sleep in my own bed and find my new daily rhythms to call my own. My heart screamed something very different. My heart has held fear, sadness, loneliness, and possibly a little denial, if I’m honest. To be near people that know me and love me and see me has brought the comfort, the sense of home that I’ve needed, but not the fullness of what home can be. Like the age of 35, I’m in between—straddling what was and what could be, sitting in what is.
As a confident, independent woman, I’ve prided myself in not being afraid or fearful of much. I would claim up and down that there is very little that actually scares me. I don’t know if this is true of everyone that say these things, but as someone who has made these claims, be weary to believe them…well, me. You see, there is bound to be somewhat of a disconnect somewhere if there is little to no fear. At least that is true of me. In the past few months I have come to realize that it is actually quite the opposite: I am filled with fear, I just hadn’t had access to it and tools to uncover it. Deep within live a lot of fears. The fear of not being perfect, fear of taking risks, fear of letting people down, fear of not doing enough or being enough, fear of disappointing someone or something, fear of feeling, and the greatest of all for me, fear of pain. Rather than running around actually being brave, I’ve moved through life more often as a coward, masked in fearlessness out of a love for new experiences, good stories to tell, seeking adventure, loving and caring for people with little room for reciprocity by lacking true emotional vulnerability. This may surprise those of you that know me. To clarify, I don’t believe that I’ve been disingenuous or what I have offered in thoughtfulness, kindness, compassion, and presence has been anything but real. I also don’t believe that there aren’t pieces of me filled with fearlessness and tenacity. I just think I have fooled myself into letting those attributes speak louder and left little room to recognize the spectrum of emotions and presence, understanding that to be brave, one must be keenly aware that there is a very real fear to face.
What happens when I allow undisclosed fear to dictate how I live? A loss of opportunities, vulnerability, depth in relationships, fullness of life, just to scratch the surface. More importantly, what happens when I allow myself to see the fear, but don’t let it dictate how I live? Truthfully, nothing. There is a loss of nothing. Sure, it won’t be all fun and games, there will be failure and pain and God only knows that it won’t be easy. But it will be rich and deep and full and ultimately, the toil and the risk will lead to something blooming. I can’t know for how long or to what significance, but the growth in and of itself is the gift, is the reward. A new way of being and seeing and experiencing and believing. Beholding bravery as being.
Mind you, this is easier said than done. Which is why I have hidden behind my not-fearful-actually-full-of-fear life for years. To be in control, to predict in a way that allows me to prepare for the response. To have the home-field advantage. To be open and authentic, without being too vulnerable or accessible. To pretend so well that even I’ve fooled myself into believing that I’ve got it going on.
I assure you, I don’t. I won’t, and at this point, I sure am not in the mood to try.
It is quite the rude awakening to unveil that so much of who I thought I was and how I presented myself was only a tiny sliver into the the whole of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think what any of you have experienced of me has been severely lacking into the Lindsey-ness of Lindsey. I’d venture to guess that any of you that know me in the slightest, know that there is always some form of Lindsey-ness showing. I’m just a little too weird to hide it. But I do think my fear has stunted what could be of me, of how I understand myself, my willingness to pursue things, the richness of knowing others and making myself available to being known.
Fear has bubbled up so much that I am almost comfortable being friends with it. Almost.
Redefining home has been a fear-filled, uncomfortable process. It’s been riddled with pain and a constant revisit with grief, my old companion. Trying to find home has been so very scary. To commit to a new normal, new rhythms, feels overwhelming. It means fully letting go of what has been and turning to embrace what is ahead. As painful as the past is, at least I know what it is. The future, on the other hand, is unpredictable and unknown. Turning away from the familiarity of the pain to the uncertainty of the future is…anxiety provoking. Which is why I have likely stayed in the unnamed shadows of fear. A familiar pain seems more manageable than an unknown pain. Yet that comes with the assumption that there will be pain, rather than letting what is ahead happen as it will, which will likely include moments of pain, but then also limits the abundance of joy.
All of the opposites go together, oddly enough. You can’t have one without the other, because they each highlight and contrast that which is different. What is light without darkness? What is joy without pain? What is pleasure without work? What is bravery without fear?
As a dear friend and college mentor would say on a regular basis, “Lean in”.
There is a little less than a quarter of a year left of 2019. There is about 2.5% left of this decade. There is about 11 months left of my middle ‘5’ year of 30. What do I do with that?
Lean in to the fear. Lean in to taking risks. Lean in to the growth. Lean in to the unknown, the uncomfortable, the unfamiliar.
Life is asking for me to trust fall and it is scary.
And knowing that it is scary is good.
There is risk to be taken and fear to be faced and life to be lived and home to be found. And it’s all just waiting on me.
So I step to the edge, turn around, cross my arms over my chest, close my eyes, take a breath…
…and lean in.