It’s been a crazy few months. Back in July, I got pretty sick – pneumonia. In the summertime. I don’t really know where I caught it, but it took me down like a lion versus an antelope. I took it as my body’s way of yelling at me to slow down. Illness is almost the only way I rest guilt-free, and even then I can’t help but feel set back. Here I am, three months later, writing on this blog for the first time. But I’m here, and I’m just going to be transparent today.
While I wish I had not lost the momentum I had gained over the course of the year, I do appreciate the time I had to travel, spend time with family, and reflect. Every day, I see a few more of the realities of my life and get real with how I really feel about it.
My first thought and prayer almost every morning is, “Lord, just help me get through the day.” Most recently, I have come to realize my entire life has been focused on one thing: survival. Not success, not happiness, no purpose, simply survival. Do I want to experience those things? Absolutely. I’ve just not made pursuing them a priority over surviving the day, or the moment, for that matter. And I’m not conditioned to do so.
I’m Making It…
What is survival? According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of surviving is “to continue to function or prosper despite.” To survive is to withstand adverse circumstances and continue to remain alive. I’ve come to realize surviving isn’t as noble as it sounds.
I grew up in a home that was love rich and money poor. My parents worked hard and made hardship work. I marveled at my mom making miracle meals out of a couple bucks and make a home out of the House from Hell. I have fond memories of my dad working his mechanic business from sunup to sundown to make ends meet. I cherish those years because I learned to be self-sufficient. What my parents couldn’t give me in material things, they gave a thousand-fold in life skills. I can confidently say I can make it ANYWHERE.
It would amaze you how much you can live without when you have to, and I’ve caught myself wearing it like a badge of honor. It hit me plain as day recently, that the very thing I take so much pride in may be the very thing killing me softly. Although I’m thankful to not have as much material lack, the survival mentality has left residue in every area of my area of my life. I’ve taken jobs I hated because I had to, and stayed because “I can take it.” I have missed experiences of a lifetime, thinking “I’ll be alright.” This kind of martyrdom has even become a running theme in my relationships and friendships, because “It’s not all about me.” It’s one thing to persist without central heat and air or running hot water; it’s another to go on without the things that motivate you to get up the next day. Surviving without a sense of accomplishment, or passion, or time and energy – surviving without love – isn’t such a courageous notion. Sure, I won’t die in the absence of the things that drive me to soar; I haven’t yet. But is that any way to live? Is it really living, just going on trying to make sure I exist the next day?
Survival is lonely. It’s even a hallmark part of the culture of womanhood that we encourage each other to just make it through, sacrificing what we really want, in favor of having what we need. We even guilt each other for not being able to soldier on through the worst circumstances. It is so often considered ungrateful to not be totally satisfied with the hand we are dealt, no matter how few books we can win with it, for it could indeed be worse. That’s not healthy, and I’m not sorry for calling it out. So what if it could be worse? I would like to see what could be best! For once in my life, I would like more out of life than the bare minimum. I don’t just want to feel like going on; I want to feel like I’m going forward.
…but I’d rather enjoy it.
Just because I can endure the worst, and weather the storms of life, doesn’t mean that has to be my permanent motivation. I thought I needed renewed contentment, but what I really need is renewed faith. I am making a concerted attempt to believe each day can hold something excellent, not run-of-the-mill. Instead of living within the framework of what I can do without, I want to concentrate on how to get what I need to go the next level. I don’t just want to survive, I want to thrive.
Are you surviving or thriving? What steps are taking to get what you want out of life? Let me know what’s driving your life in the comments below.