Do you ever feel lost? Truly, deeply, completely lost? Whether it’s a job, a relationship, or being so out of touch with yourself that you have no idea who or what you are? For years I ignored that nagging gut feeling inside that was trying to point my soul in its true direction. That internal, all-knowing voice that said, “this isn’t for you,” or “this isn’t want you want,” or even “DO NOT DO THIS.” I have spent my life ignoring that feeling, and I have become quite good at it. It has left me feeling utterly inauthentic and unsatisfied with the way I have been living my life.
This is not to say that I do not have control over my decisions. Or that my life is not filled with beauty, relationships, and meaning. But I do feel like I have often succumbed to the pressure and expectations of others – my parents, teachers, employers, and society in general. I became an expert at masking my own emotions and putting myself on the back burner. I checked off boxes – went to a good school, maintained a good job, married a good man – and what I am left with is the feeling that I have not been true to my own wants, dreams, and desires. Perfectionism and fear have fueled my life. Fear of not being liked, of not being worthy or good enough, of being unlovable, of failing, of being shamed, of hurting someone else. In truth, I have only hurt myself.
As a therapist, I have done a great deal of internal exploration around my thoughts and emotions – sometimes too much exploration. I have dedicated my life to serving and loving others in the way I so deeply wish I could serve and love myself. This awareness led to a breaking point. I either keep on doing what I am doing – living my life in utter fear, anxiety, and depression – or I do the hard thing. I step up and speak up for myself despite what other people will think of me. It’s been a journey, and to be honest I am nowhere near finished that journey. Who ever really is? My exploration of nature last year was spawned by my innate desire to leave everything and everyone and find myself. I spent months – completely alone for the first time in my life – in the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of Utah and Arizona. When I got back, I still felt lost. I feel lost today. But I also know that I am more equipped to face uncertainty and fear. I am committed to showing up for myself now. There are days where I want to leave my marriage, leave my work, and completely start anew. And that may happen. Or I may find a way through the dark forest that allows for me to authentically be myself alongside these aspects of my life.
I don’t know always know where to go in my life, but I know that nature is the answer. There is nothing more beautiful than spending hours alone on a trail – in a forest, in the desert, in a valley, or on a mountain – facing your greatest internal fears.