How often do you deny yourself what you want because you’re afraid of it? Afraid of what it says to the outside world about who you are? Afraid of what even wanting it says about you?
We repeat the opinions and things we’ve said for years simply because we want to be consistent. (It’s a psychological persuasion principle. Marketers use it all the time.) We want to appear like we are in control and know what we want, so we speak and act like broken records, stunting our own growth. We nod when friends reiterate this (false) belief we’ve long held, even when we doubt. We fear stepping out of our current identity because we so desperately fear rejection when we only want to be understood.
This tiny, quiet voice still whispers.
No matter what you do, you can never quite drown out the wisps of longing there. No amount of security or comfort will ease its call, and you find yourself wandering again, trying to find where the voice is coming from.
A long time ago, I wrote about finding your tiny box of truth. I had been searching for mine, as it seems to have gotten lost somewhere between all of the moves, the little heartbreaks, and the many projects half-started.
Everyone’s box looks different. It might be an old shoe box. A musty, wooden cigar case. Your grandmother’s hat box. A glass jewelry box. It’s a little box, filled with mementos, wishes, and dreams, decorated with the trappings of who we were, who we hoped we’d become, and maybe even brushes of who we are.
It felt like mine had been stashed away somewhere I couldn’t quite recall, perhaps an attic. The search began. I wandered up to the attic, the stairs creaking unused to the weight of a visitor. It was dimly lit, a thick layer of dust having settled on everything dulling the sun from the one small window. There was so much up here. Boxes and garbage bags littered the room, and I felt like I couldn’t just leave it there. It was ready to be cleared.
After going through boxes that weren’t mine, donating, giving away, tossing out a grand mess of things when I finally wiped down the window, in the hopes of letting in a little more light. It worked, and when I turned around to survey the room, I saw it. How had I not noticed it before?
An unadorned and graying box made of strong, thin cardboard sat on a faded, blue side table. I pulled it off the table, sat on the floor, and gingerly removed the lid. Brushing the dust off my fingers to my skirt, I looked inside the box at my treasures and a small gasp escaped.
A sand dollar I found on a beach trip with a friend when I was 10. A lacy pair of baby socks. A brown paper packet packet of zucchini seeds. A clay bead swirled purple and green I’d made in middle school. A plastic music note on a keychain. A copy of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat. A journal with one of those gilded locks you can open with a safety pin.
Seeing the lock, the hair on my neck raised. I felt this rage rise up and overwhelm my other feelings in an instant. I gripped the journal with one hand and tore the lock off with the other, throwing it across the room and hearing it clatter to the floor. It had no place guarding my heart anymore.
I’ve spent a long time putting up walls, locking gates, and otherwise figuring out how to deaden myself to the sting of being treated like I didn’t matter, like I was in some way inferior.
What a difference six months makes. A month. A week.
The changes I’ve been undergoing and undertaking have not been small, but it feels so natural. It’s like arriving in a new place but feeling like you’ve returned somewhere.
This rootedness, this confidence, is a little stronger every day, and with each day, I let go of a little more of the insecurity I used to harbor. It’s a process. Some days, I regress. But mostly, I slowly step forward in love and acceptance.
I suppose all of this should feel strange, but what strikes me as strange is the fact that it doesn’t. None of it. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so sure of anything.
As I look in my tiny box, I realize for the first time ever I’m not judging its contents. It just is. It’s what I’ve collected over the years, what I’ve desperately wanted, and what I still desire. This is what I want. And that’s okay.
It’s okay to want what you want.
It’s okay to ask for it.
It’s okay to go bust your ass until you get it.