Saying ‘you have baggage’ is way overplayed.
But in all seriousness, as I was painfully sitting through my three-hour layover in Dallas waiting to get home after eight days in New York, I got to thinking. Yes, randomly thinking about life, musing to myself. Unlike my AWAY luggage, the bumps and bruises of my life are hidden behind my brown skin.
If you look at my AWAY luggage, it is no longer the pristine pale pink it once was when I first received it. It has colorful scrapes, luckily no dents yet. But what those scrapes can’t tell you is it has been to Italy, Orange County, and New York. It also has no idea it has many more adventures in its near and far future too.
What in the hell does this my luggage have to do with life? I know, I swear I had a point here. While musing about my luggage choice, I thought about all the bumps and bruises throughout my life…throughout life in general. The things, big or small, that have happened that no one can see, unlike my AWAY luggage.
Each new colorful scrape was the reason my co-worker told me to buy a black one, or even a dark one. But, why?! If I’m investing in luggage (re: adulting), I want it to be something I enjoy looking at and using, even if it shows every scratch.
The job I lost. The relationship that ended. The loss of a loved one. The race goal I didn’t meet. The college I so desperately wanted to get into but didn’t. The shame of credit card debt.
NONE of these things you see by looking at my exterior, but they’ve happened to me. I wear them as bumps and bruises on my heart and in my mind. But on the outside, you couldn’t really see these things. We wear them heavily, where conversely my luggage wears its colorful battle wounds. However, as humans, we hide the hard and ugly stuff, for the most part. We shy away from how uncomfortable, sad, and angry they make us. Instead of feeling them, we wear them as bumps and bruises on our heart and minds.
Obviously, there are the select few who are truly in tune with themselves and allow themselves to process these hard emotions. Those are NOT the people I’m talking about. They are NOT the norm. They are who I strive to be. I’m on my way there, but I would NOT consider myself one of them yet.
Each day, I’m working to wear the hard stuff as my luggage so bravely does. I’m working to embrace how each let down, shameful notion, or sad event has shaped my path forward. My luggage wears these battle scars because it has no choice. I have the choice and I’ve always had a choice. It wasn’t until a year ago, did I really embrace this notion and use it to catapult me into a more self-aware human. I would hold onto these battle scars and let the emotions they elicit, stay dormant until they burst from compression. Now, I address them head on, at times with guidance from my therapist or assistance from close friends. It’s hard to be this self-aware. It’s hard to be this understanding when every fiber in your body is conditioned to do otherwise.
It seems a little silly to compare a compassionate human to an inanimate object, but it makes sense to me. At least it did in the Dallas airport.
I think what I’m trying to say, and my luggage made this randomly apparent to me, is that we all walk around with life’s bumps and bruises in our heart and on our mind. It is up to each of us to decide whether we address their lasting impact or if we let them stagnantly stay there, unaddressed and accepted. That choice is for you.
Therapy has allowed me to see this all so differently. I can’t really put it into words, but working to truly understand the woman I am at my very core has been so exhausting and scary, yet more profound than most things I’ve done in my life thus far. Being in tune with yourself is something that no one can ever take away from you, nor is it anything anyone can force upon you. But when this awareness level is engaged with, things shift. Life shifts.
For a while, I attributed my life shifts to the breakup. But really, that was not it at all. The breakup was just the catapult to make a change. I used the relationship as a crutch to stay stuck in a life of unhappiness and blamed everything else, instead of making the change I knew I needed too. Owning it all was too overwhelming. It was even more overwhelming when the choice was no longer mine and I was forced to make the change. At the end, or what is really the beginning, is me understanding ME with absolutely no judgment. Some days I really struggle, but each day I remember it will always be a process. Being aware of this is the part of the equation that was missing.
If you take anything away from this post, I hope you realize that the shame and judgment you may carry toward yourself is unnecessary. It’s there, but we need to learn to embrace it, learn from it, and tell it to shut its dumb ass up. If we don’t address the bumps and bruises that weigh heavily on our heart and mind, we are making life harder for ourselves. We don’t need to necessarily wear them like my luggage — but we need to address them, deal with them, and then we can wear them as battle wounds. Reminders of what we’ve fought hard for ourselves though authenticity, awareness, and kindness to y
Layovers are meat to ponder life…