Practicing Acceptance

Treasure Island // Laguna Beach, California.

Treasure Island // Laguna Beach, California.

I never thought I would be the restless type. Growing up, I always regarded myself as someone on a linear path through life, knowing exactly what I wanted and making it happen without pause or self-doubt. But now, a year out from college graduation, I find myself existing in the unknown. The time I spent living in France (once for a semester and again this past year) and South Africa (for six weeks one summer) unearthed long dormant aspects of my personality: my anxiety about remaining in one place for too long, my desire to be unbound by obligations, my fear of dropping my passions in favor of convenience, and my insatiable curiosity about the world.

Moving home after creating a life for myself in France—a life complete with bank accounts, housing insurance, and best friendships—has been difficult. Rather than viewing my home as a place that offers me the proximity to loved ones that I was missing and craving in France, I’ve been seeing everything as a reminder of what I’ve lost since leaving.

Since I studied in Paris three years ago, my life has been a nonstop cycle—for which I’m extremely grateful—of traveling, volunteering abroad, finishing my degree, and moving abroad with little break in between. I’ve been on a consistent adrenaline high due to ongoing adventure, intellectual and social stimulation, daily challenges, and exposure to unfamiliarity.

In contrast to this perpetual newness, life at home can feel stale, predictable, and even regressive. Some days are fluid—I run with my dog and I go to Taco Tuesday with my family and boyfriend and feel content and at peace. Other days I feel stifled and I spend hours scouring the Internet for writing or volunteer opportunities in any corner of the world but the one I’m in.

In the past I’ve had this remarkable feeling of being exactly where I felt I was supposed to be in the world, a feeling of being in complete alignment with myself. When my mom and I visited the Boboli Gardens together in Florence, I felt it. I felt it every moment I’ve ever spent walking around Paris. I felt it every Wednesday night when my girlfriends and I drank rosé and baked chocolate bananas in Bourges. I felt it every time I saw Meta’s face, the student I tutored one-on-one in Cape Town. That feeling coasted me through my last year of college and I felt it like tiny beating wings in my chest and in my veins every time I chatted with my roommates over morning tea or wrote a paper I was proud of.

My mom asked me this question recently: “How do you ever know that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be in life?”

I said I wasn’t sure and she responded, “Because you’re there.” You are already always exactly where you’re supposed to be, she explained. I felt chills at these words but challenged her anyway: “But what if you don’t have that feeling for some reason?” “It’s because you’re in resistance to where you are,” she said.

And I have been in complete resistance for a number of weeks now. As my mom reminded me, what resists persists. That’s to say that when you spend your energy fighting against the situation at hand, that situation stays around and perhaps even adopts new and scary proportions. We only have three options in any situation in life: change it, leave it, or accept it. But to fix something or leave something, we first must accept where we are. All suffering comes from resisting what is. Acceptance doesn’t mean learning to love a bad situation—it means coming to terms with what is directly in front of you so you can understand how to cope. It requires a conscious mind and diligent effort to do this, but it’s only on a foundation of acceptance and surrender that we’re able to move forward with optimism, possibility, and open hearts.

It’s extremely likely I will be back in France or elsewhere in the world for some period of time, but for now I’m not. And I need to accept that. I need to accept that where I am right now is where I’m meant to be. It’s not only one of the most gorgeous places in the world, but it gives me access to everything I need: family, friendships, unconditional love, safety, and support to be who I am and pursue what I’m passionate about. Oh, and authentic Mexican food, too. What more does a girl need?

 

 

Have you ever been in resistance to something? Have you ever had that transcendent feeling of alignment with your needs and wants? Feel free to share below.

 

Note: These philosophies aren’t my ideas, but practices I’ve learned about that I try to implement into my life. The spiritual ideologies I reference above come from Buddhist teachings and books by Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle, and Deepak Chopra (and many, many more sources, but these are some I’m familiar with). For more on these ideas, check out Loving What Is: Four Questions that can Change Your LifeThe Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, and Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.