So, going back to
was a lot different than leaving it. North Carolina
When I moved to
it was with a great sense of anticipation that I was finally “arriving” somewhere and I don’t just mean in the sense of “getting to a physical destination.” I thought to myself, “Finally, I’m in a relationship with the girl of my dreams – life can now begin!” What I was really doing was running from what I perceived to be a failed attempt at life as an English teacher, as a son, as a brother, an uncle, as a responsible, functional human being. When I thought life was finally about to begin, clearly I was wrong. Ohio
Life had been tooling along all the while; my perspective simply needed some adjusting.
Once I got over the shock of Reality’s right hook, I started hanging out with people again. Now, I’ve always been more of a one-on-one person rather than engaging in groups, but there was a definite need for group socialization that had been lacking the previous months.
During the two months of coming to grips with the situation I had been in I learned that I’ve already arrived. In conjunction with that, a lesson I learned while in counseling is that I’m already enough as I am; there’s no need to live up to anyone’s expectations (unless of course a specific kind of relationship demands that (which, I suppose, could apply to any relationship to a point), such as a teacher-student relationship, or recruit-Recruit Division Commander relationship). It’s all about one being comfortable in one’s own skin.
Every attempt at something new – new relationships, new career paths – they were always me running from my “failed attempts” and overall discontent with myself, with who I was. But in reading Jon Acuff’s book, Quitter, coupled with the aforementioned lessons in the previous paragraph, instead of looking for something new, I looked back into my past to see what I had done that had made me feel alive or purposeful. That was the beginning of a time of re-discovery. “What makes Cliff, Cliff?” I asked myself. And so likes and loves and dislikes I had sacrificed on the altar of people-pleasing were resurrected and my sense of self began to re-form.
During the period of re-socialization I had the opportunity to live these lessons out. For one thing, I had neither the energy nor desire to put up any kind of front. I was discreet, of course, not airing out my dirty laundry for all to see, but I wasn’t trying to please anyone. I was out to prove I had nothing to prove; I was able to just be myself, to be comfortable in my skin and it turns out life goes much better when engaging it as such. When you present yourself as the real you to people, that’s who people get to know. When you present yourself as someone else, you’re known by no one(1). …and that just flat out sucks; it’s a miserable existence – it is not living, it’s a mode of survival.
Through that I’ve made some good friends and actually have some firm, albeit young, roots in an area I never anticipated having them – and that because the possibility simply never occurred to me.
So, going home to
has been a much different experience than moving to North Carolina . I’m not running from anything. For once in my life, I can truly say that I’m running to something. Sure, some people get left behind – either permanently because they can’t handle supporting me in my vision or only temporarily because I need to go places that they can’t, but I will see them again. Either way, there is some pain in that. Ohio
That and doing something radically different than anything I’ve ever done before, if for no other reason than it simply being something purely of my own volition. The initial suggestion came through others, and others have supported and encouraged me and held me accountable, but I’m doing it all because I want to. It’s not out of desperation, it’s not a last choice – it’s because the opportunity is freakin’ awesome.
Tomorrow: how the return to Ohio has been weird because it there's no real weirdness about it...
1 - I'm sure I read a brilliant post on this on Acuff's blog, but for the life of me I can't find it now...