When You Just Feel Different

 
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I’m sitting wide-awake tonight, cozied up under a blanket as the house grows silent. Lately I have started to feel discontentment slowly working on the corners of my mind. It’s the week after Christmas and I ache to enter the new year with contentment and security but I feel pressure, pressure to gather up the broken, messy pieces of my life for the new year, to be the woman I want to be now at the very beginning so that I can just hold onto her for the year. If I am honest with myself, I am frightened of this next year. I’m graduating in the spring and I find myself clinging to the holidays with a selfishly tight fist because I know that next year won’t look the way that it has for years.

And while I want to look at the new year with fierce hope and rejoicing, I struggle to look past the exhaustion in my heart. There is little left in these dry bones. It’s much more than an uncertain year ahead. I feel different. And I know it comes from a deep foundation tremble. It comes from facing an uncertain year with an uncertain self. I feel as though I’ve grown a new set of bones. It’s a different that makes me feel the weight of gravity push it’s fingers into the weak chinks in my armor, a different that is brittle, one that feels more fragile than I ever thought possible in my extroverted and wild self.

That’s just it. Until recently, I was an overflowing, giddy extrovert. I thrived on people and I never felt awkward or embarrassed. I was wholeheartedly, unapologetically me. Yet as college has gone by, I have started to feel my very bones shift. Right now, awkward and misplaced words cause me to meditate deeply on my imperfections, cause me to shy away from the social. I walk away from hard conversations doubting everything about myself. I label myself, hanging lanterns on my insecurities to avoid the fear of being labeled by others. I forget that it’s okay to mess up, to show the cracks in my mask of perfection and give the world a glimpse of the realness underneath. I hold myself to unobtainable standards as if I were not entirely human, flawed and imperfect, stumbling about in uncharted waters of muddy humanity.

Lately I'm a stranger in my own skin. I don’t know myself. I stretch out a hand and I don’t recognize it. I look in the mirror and I don’t understand the girl I see there. I wake up and I feel sadder, more realistic, more doubt-filled. And yet, while this change is painful, I have found a quiet boldness inside these bones. It's not all bad. I no longer feel like I have to scream to be heard. I can rest in gentle grace. I can sit quietly and listen. I can hear people.  I think the frantic fear inside of me that makes me feel so uneasy with the changes stems from the lie that I have to be a certain type of person, the person I have been told my whole life that I am, instead of just being who I am. It comes from the fear that I am somehow made up of all the things I hate. But I'm not.

And so this is my hope for the new year, that this is where my faith will grow the most, that this is where the wilderness will test me, that this where my faith becomes truly wild and free. And I can find a quiet contentment in that. I can be happy. Not a happy that demands to be heard or parade around on a platform, not even a happy that appeases my obsession with perfection. Instead, I can find a deep seated, soft contentment with my messy and imperfect life, a sweet joy that holds back discontentment. Because then, I am free to accept the new year and all that it brings, not as a perfect person but as a real person.