Flip the Switch
Sometimes, something happens that makes you question everything. This is not inherently good or bad. It’s like turning on a light. Maybe you accidentally get a little shock or maybe you don’t. But the light’s on, and you see what’s in the room in front of you. It could be filled with things you never wanted to confront, see, or acknowledge. Or maybe it’s everything you ever wanted – everything you ever dared to hope for.
But you don’t know until you reach up to flip that switch. You don’t know until you risk the possibility of shock/pain. You don’t know – until you do. (Literally and figuratively.) The choice is either you stay in the dark (where you convince yourself you’re safe – because, hey, what you can’t see can’t hurt you, right? …Sure. If you’re five, and you still believe your blanket will protect you from monsters.) or you turn on the light. The light means your reality will change, no matter what you find. The light means being brave. Looking at what’s around you and ahead of you is always scary, even if the outcome is pleasant.
There’s something, though, in that moment of illumination. A kind of courageous trust – trust in yourself, that you’re strong enough for whatever you happen to find. That kind of self-confidence can be hard to come by, depending on how badly your past has scarred you, how badly you maybe are mistreated (in myriad ways), and how badly you undervalue yourself.
Somehow, there are times in which we convince ourselves that our own happiness is unworthy of attention and pursuit. We stay in the dark for reasons that are really just excuses, masquerading as noble sacrifices. This displaces blame and responsibility, leaving us almost content to stay stuck right where we find our feet. Never mind that in the dark things are crawling across your feet. Never mind that those things may be snakes or spiders. Could be kittens. You don’t know. Because facing the truth is terrifying. But if we don’t face it in service of some pretty ideal, then it’s okay, right? HAHAHA – NO!
Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves a life that helps them flourish, that doesn’t feel like a constant battleground. When a person stops striving to be happy, it sends out the wrong message and the wrong lesson to those around them. It prizes settling above actual joy. And that’s all kinds of wrong.
But back to what started this: questioning everything. With a shift in perspective, that’s bound to happen. Lately, for weeks now, I’ve found myself reexamining things from every angle, interrogating every sentence, and every possible action. It’s all too easy to be oneself over the head with hindsight – except, that’s not really kind or constructive. So, what do you do when you find yourself at sea with questions, looking at a situation with the lights on? You allow yourself to really see it, to see what it means. And here is what I know, after I’ve turned the lights on.
- You fight for what and who you love. If you don’t, you send the message that it’s not worth it – and perhaps that you don’t see yourself as worth it. You also run the risk, if it’s about a person, of making a person feel unloved.
- Only you can change your life. You flip the switch, or you stay in the dark. Oh, it might hurt to actually see what the hell is going on, but running away from it (even by staying still and sightless) will hurt you far more in the long run.
- Turning on the light can mean speaking your truth. Words are illuminating. You love someone? Tell them. Tell them now, before you don’t have the change. And don’t just tell them that you do – tell them exactly why. Do you miss someone? Does that person know you do? Tell them. Small truths change the world.
- Do not run away. Never do this. Not even when things are difficult, especially then. I have been in situations where the other person just…vanishes. It is, among other things, horribly gutting and confusing. For me, that’s the absolute WORST thing you can do to me. Tell me you hate me. Tell me you don’t love me. Tell me you don’t want to be my friend anymore. But don’t leave me in the dark. That’s really the quickest way to make another person feel unimportant, worthless, and all-around awful. What you do, and do not do, matters. So, don’t run. Don’t vanish.
- Actions matter. Words are wonderful creatures, but what you do shows someone who you are, what you value, and how much you value something/someone. Do your feelings match up with what you do? Are you brave enough for that?
- You cannot live your life for other people. It doesn’t matter if the reason look pretty on paper. If you sacrifice YOU for someone/something else, you are killing yourself slowly. Do not do that.
- Responsibilities are a necessary part of life, but every now and then, play hooky from everything. Even if it’s just for a day. Give yourself a break from the world and just breathe. You won’t regret it. The dishes will still be in the sink. The emails will still be waiting to be answered. But if you don’t actually live, what’s the point? Merely existing is a disservice. Rocks exist. Are you a rock? NO. Stop sitting there as if you are.
- Going after what you want will always be difficult. If it wasn’t, would you want it? If everyone just miraculously got what they wanted and gained their ideal thing, would it still matter just the same as if it had to be fought for? No. Because the low-hanging fruit is still fruit, but there’s something delightfully satisfying about having to make that climb.
- Give for what and who you love. If you don’t, if you don’t show something or someone that it/they are worth it, how will it ever be known?
- Forget your parents. Forget your family. Forget your responsibilities for a moment. Where does your heart go? Where do you want to be? GO THERE. DO THAT.
- You are not the mistakes you made in the past. You are not the mistakes your parents made in the past. You are not the sum total of the bad things you may have done. You choose what you do next.
- Fighting sucks. Fighting is hard. And sometimes, you have to go to war. There’s no single battle and it’s done. Sometimes, it’s your own WWIII. But no one can fight your fights but you. And goddamn it, it’s a battle worth winning. Always.
- Unconditional, honest, real, and true love is rare. If you find someone who makes you laugh, even when you feel like dying, do not let them go. That’s the brass ring, darlings. Grab that fucker.
- Surround yourself with people who really see you – and who celebrate you. Don’t stay where you’re not loved to the very depths of your marrow. Life is too fucking short.
- And, lastly, there’s no substitute for passion. For bottomless interest. For love. For friendship. For someone who fights your fights with you, even when you don’t ask. That person who will gladly move heaven, hell, and all things in between – for you? They’re irreplaceable. If you find someone like that, appreciate them.