On this day 6 years ago I got a plane bright and early in the morning vibrating with excitement and paralyzed with fear - I was headed to Malawi for 9 months with the Peace Corps as a Response Volunteer.
Today I was walking on my favorite trail, it winds thru the trees and curves around tiny lakes - it's my favorite place to think. I was listening to this podcast and this with Oprah and Liz Gilbert, discussing the Hero's Journey and how people who have been conditioned as women have been told this isn't their journey, the hero's journey and from this understanding we (women) don't always know or take agency of our lives or the direction of our journey. We wait for it to come to us. So many women have followed their role models - their Mothers, Aunts, Grandmas who grew up and got married and had babies and built a home. That is the journey. We follow this journey because the women we love lived this journey and they are strong and wise and beautiful - but this isn't everyone's journey.
I thought about my journey. I didn't follow my Nana's journey - I didn't follow my Mom's journey. I find myself on the other side of Oprah and Liz's experience. I was given the love + support to live a journey that is very far from my Nana + Mom. They encouraged me to go + learn + seek + find in ways they never had the freedom too. I'm so grateful for that. But I wonder if I am, even on the other side facing the same dilemma - while living a free journey I have felt lost without role models to show me how to live this journey - how to embrace and receive the freedom.
Whether we are following the women of our family or traveling new pathways we have to check into our own authenticity. What do we really want our journey to be? AND are you able to see ourselves as deserving enough to have it?
The podcast goes on to tell a story of one of Liz's close friends who on her 40th birthday made a ceremony for herself to release the bride, to release the expectation she held that in order to be the person she wanted and have the life she wanted she had to get married, so she released it. It's a powerful story. I started thinking about what I would release.
What have I been carrying around with me?
Immediately the words dropped into my head - I have to release the pressure + idea of a perfect life. I don't know how to navigate this journey of freedom + exploration. I wasn't given role models. It's been the most beautiful journey so far and I am so grateful for every moment of it - high/low good/bad fulfilling/draining lonely/connected quiet/loud BUT it is what is needs to be. It doesn't have to be perfect (right) - there is no perfect (right) town - there is no perfect (right) job - there is no perfect (right) choice. Allow myself to take agency of a freedom that the women in my life haven't had. Stay curious to new ways instead of holding onto fear without a clear role model of the unknown. Don't listen to fear - perfect is just fear dressed up in a nice outfit as Liz says!
I'm so curious about how + why people make choices! I'm thinking now it's been a way for me to try to gather data on how humans navigate this journey whether be it with role models that didn't live the journeys they feel called to or living a journey that has no role model. I want to hear + collect these stories. The stories of the Hero's Journey.
I wonder if you've thought about your journey?
I wonder what you would release?