On Public Words of Lessons Learned and Private Lose Your Shit Moments
A couple of weeks ago—two days after sitting on cactus-covered mountains in Phoenix and journaling words of life and growth in the desert—I lost my shit. You know these type of lose-your-shit moments: the one where Truth and Reason go on an overnight trip without you, leaving you alone at home with all these crazy, irrational thoughts—thoughts that you KNOW aren’t true, but thoughts that you decide to throw a rager with anyways.
I became convinced that—despite any actual evidence that would hold up in a court of law—I was a failure, no one supported me, and I was all alone in life. Literally NONE of this is true, but Truth and Reason were absent for the mo’ and so I had no one to talk me down from my headspace cliff. I was ready to pack my bags and live in a remote seaside cave like Leonardo DiCaprio does in Shutter Island, living off gluten-free peanut butter sandwiches and huddling around a fire that my never-been-camping-before self was somehow able to start. Given Tennessee is a decidedly landlocked state, I settled on the next closest alternative to cloistering myself in a miserable seaside cave: Atlanta (no sea, but just as miserable). I was *this close* to turning off my phone and relying totally on burned CDs from high school (aka a lot of 2000s-era Coldplay) to soundtrack my four-hour drive south to Atlanta to hide away for the weekend at my brother's place.
But as these lose-your-shit moments tend to go, by that afternoon Truth and Reason had returned from their trip away and I could humor myself over just how ridiculous I had been that morning.
But then I felt like a hypocrite. Because here I was in the middle of writing this story of the desert season—a story (cue One Direction’s “Story of My Life”) that has done an HGTV level of renovation on my heart, profoundly influencing my perspective, my priorities, and my relationships—and yet I was losing my shit, lashing out at friends, convincing myself that I was all alone in life, ready to run off to a cave just two days after sitting on a desert mountain feeling all sorts of trust and peace with the unanswered questions on my heart.
That night, I recounted my shit-losing to a friend, exasperated that I had let my mind go on a jog all by itself that far down the Path of This Is Not AT ALL True. Was my story of healing in the desert season valid if, only days later, I was ready to go MIA like a rogue plane that has turned off its radar capabilities? Could I share that story without being a straight-up hypocrite? Because sometimes I receive praise in return for my words—encouragement that is especially helpful when I find myself doubting my words—but, I wondered, am I worthy of this encouragement when I have these hypocritical freak-out moments? How do I write with a heart that’s pure, a heart that honestly writes words of lessons learned and then actually applies them to life?
I brought this up with my unpaid counselor who doubles as my roommate, Chelsey, as we drank mochas and Americanos in that coffee shop that I reference in at least 80% of my blog posts—the one that feels like home. And since she’s practically a counselor (minus the degree or license, but a counselor nonetheless), she often has wise things to say.
“Writing with a pure heart means knowing your humanity in the midst of it,” she said. (I kid you not, this is a direct quote, she’s like friggin’ Gandhi sometimes.)
The girl is onto something. We can learn the lessons, we can grow, and whether or not we write about these lessons publicly or simply share them privately with others in our social circle, we’re still going to lose our shit and want to hide away in a remote cave (or Atlanta) sometimes.
But this doesn’t invalidate our growth or mean that the change that’s happening within you isn’t real. Growing up—the real kind, not the just the another-year-older kind—doesn’t mean you achieve zen-like perfection. I think it just means acknowledging when we’re having our hypocritical moments, but still believing that the change we felt two days prior is real, that growth is happening. So maybe we lose our shit, but instead of dwelling on our failure or giving up altogether on pursuing this growth, we offer apologies and grace to others and to ourselves, and then we try again, recognizing our humanity in the midst of it.
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