The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. – Joseph Campbell
I’m writing this post from my favorite cafe in Northern Virginia: Panera Bread. I’ve fallen in love with their soups (their bagels are pretty amazing, too). Tonight, I’m slurping my way through a bowl of garden vegetable, served hot with pesto and crusty French bread. I’m drinking ginger peach tea and listening to Rosie Thomas, because her music makes me go inward. It makes me sit still and think.
Tonight, I’m thinking about what it means to be transformed.
We all say we want to improve our lives, but in reality, very few of us actually go beyond the self-help junkie stage to achieve true transformation.
What’s up with that?
In the last two years, I’ve gone natural, quit my job to work for myself, became a vegan (then transitioned to being a vegetarian after I lost too much weight as a vegan) and gave up my apartment to save money for travel. Along the way, I’ve also been able to cultivate a new outlook on the world, one filled with more hope and possibility.
The other day on the phone, my sister said that sometimes she feels as if she doesn’t know me anymore. To be completely honest, sometimes even I feel like I don’t know myself anymore. I’ve challenged and questioned everything I’ve known to be true over the past two years that I’ve been writing this blog, conducting lifestyle experiments and resetting my life. The result? Right now, I feel more aligned than ever in my life and work. It’s like I’ve finally come out of my cocoon.
What I’ve learned is that transformation itself is not difficult. Whenever I let go of my attachment to concepts, things and people that no longer serve me, I am able to open myself up to what the universe really has in store for my growth.
What I’ve learned (especially when I decided to cut off all my hair, big chop-style) is that I wasn’t really afraid of change in the first place. I was afraid of how other people would react to the new me.
People have, of course, reacted in various ways as I have gone through these various changes in my life. That’s what people do. We react. We all have our own worldviews and comfort zones, and when someone steps outside of them – even someone we love – our stuff starts coming out. For me, the changes I’ve been making in my life have been exciting and liberating. For others looking on from the outside, it might feel disorienting. So they often lash out. How now shall they interact with this new Rosetta?
(My aunt said to me recently, “It’s no fun to go out to eat with you anymore now that you’re a vegetarian. No chicken? No ribs? Where’s the Rosetta that used to throw down with us at the family barbecue?” She’s still here, I thought. Just not so . . . meaty.)
When this happens, I’ve found that it’s helpful to remember a few truths to ground myself in my own experience, not the experiences of others:
- I am responsible for my own stuff. This life is mine alone to live and my happiness is mine alone to determine. Whether or not other people approve of my choices is never a good measuring stick for success or fulfillment.
- I am not responsible for other people’s stuff. (And by “stuff” I mean other people’s desires, hangups, frustrations, or opinions.)
Yes, transformation can be terrifying, especially when your family and friends don’t (and can’t) understand your journey. But perhaps what we should be more afraid of is the regret of not ever becoming who we really are.