The Scenic Route

I’ve been on this crusade to “get better” for as long as I can remember. “Better” has meant a lot of different things, over the years. It was just a nicer word for skinnier, once. If I’m being honest, it was a shorter way to say more like her, more like them. (And really: less like you.)

Then “better” meant not so critical. Not so judgmental. Not so afraid.

It meant less time spent in front of the mirror. Less time obsessing. “Better” meant less time furrowing my brow and frowning at myself. Less time taking pictures I’d never send.

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Then “better” meant faster, smarter, tougher. More efficient. More confident, too.

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Over time, it meant training myself to be less anxious, less pessimistic, less introspective. And just generally: less insecure.

It meant teaching myself to cook. And to take notes whenever someone cooked for me.

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It meant pausing to ask myself what I was really hungry for, and then not being so hard on myself if/when the answer wasn’t salad.

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It meant figuring out the whole trust thing. (Turns out that’s one of The Big Things.) It meant a lot of accidentally scrambled eggs before it meant any successful omelets.

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It meant inviting someone in, and giving up my whole heart — not just a piece I knew I’d be able to do without. It meant failing, and one day it meant trying again. It meant failing for a second time. And another watery smile, and another whispered goodbye. Then it meant a new kind of list — full of things I still needed to do, on my own.

It meant getting on a plane. And getting experience — the kind you just can’t find, when you’re lost in a library. It meant moving to the last place anyone ever thought I’d go. It meant starting to write again. It meant thinking about being a creative, without wishing I were something else.

It meant being more extroverted — that one felt extra important. It meant inviting a whole bunch of people over, and figuring out how to make friends. (Really for the first time.)

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It meant learning to take less and give more. It meant being vulnerable again, too, even when I so didn’t want to. And it meant being so sweetly surprised, over and over again.

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It meant resisting the temptation to make everything look so perfect, all the time. And it meant finding a way to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. It meant pushing myself. Refusing to either sit still or be yanked along.

It meant making a really big effort not to feel like less of a person, without a job. (Twice, now.) It meant just carrying on — without a plan, without a goal, without any clue at all, really.

And now? I feel less like we have anything to get better from. I think we’re doing just fine, all in all. And if we’re moving a little more slowly than everyone else, I think that’s okay. Nothing wrong with taking the scenic route, and all that. (The scenic route has lobster!)

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