"Go with the flow. Force nothing. Let it happen, or not happen... trusting that whichever way it goes, it's for the best." ~ Mandy Hale
Yes, it has been a month since I last posted, but I can explain.
This summer has been one of the most beautiful, yet chaotic summers of my life. Unexpected things have happened at seemingly every corner, change occurring spontaneously and being quite shocking. In a short summary, I lost two of my closest friends almost at once, for vastly different reasons, as well as had a devastating conflict with someone incredibly close to me around the same time. As you might have guessed, after all of this, my once stable ground seemed to plummet beneath me, and I was left to pick up all of the pieces and begin all over again without anyone to really talk to. I had to look at myself straight-on, ask myself tough questions, find my own, unique voice, and work to build new relationships I never expected I would form. Furthermore, I was gifted new opportunities due to this change, including going on a spontaneous trip to visit an old, dear friend of mine, getting a $1.00 raise from my job, and finally pushing myself to fully dive into my next project, a collection of short stories and creative nonfiction. (Yes, you heard me right! More information will be released about this soon.)
After these conflicts and sudden changes, I've grown immensely, as anyone would. One thing everything has taught me is the power of going with the flow, and how it means so much more than its surface-level interpretations; going with the flow means not only letting things happen naturally and taking life as it comes, but to be present in those situations, and learn from them as you can so that each high-tide is easier to endure.
I've come to learn over my 21 orbits around the sun that change is simply inevitable. Everything is born, and everything dies, and this includes relationships, job opportunities, ideas, passions, and so on. We cannot control everything, because nothing is stable, nothing lasts forever, and this is why it is important to let go, but even more so, allow. While letting go and going with the flow go hand-in-hand, going with the flow is different in the sense that it teaches you how to endure, how to be present through the hard times, and ride the waves of life.
Life still has its ups and downs for me, but I have learned how to build my resilience, not worry so much about the outcomes of things, and trust. Life is truly so short, so I believe it's necessary to accept life as it is, fully, whatever happens, in order to live a more peaceful, joyful life.
Below, I have listed five things I've incorporated into my life in order to stay atop the waves as well as enjoy every change and the formation of new paths in my life.
1. Be grateful for everything currently in your life
Since life is always changing, taking some time to be grateful for everything currently in my life, at this very moment, has helped me tremendously. You never know if tomorrow you'll end a relationship, or be broken up with, break your laptop, catch your house on fire by accident, lose your job or someone close to you, etc.. So, appreciate everything you have now, while it's here. Maybe send a sweet text to someone close to you, hug your dog a little tighter, or feel thankful for all of your clothes in your closet rather than fixate on the clothes you're lacking. Doing this will also help you to be more mindful of all that you do have during periods of change.
2. Return to your center when things get too hard
When things feel too out of control, don't be afraid to pause. Maybe step away for a moment to recollect yourself, do some deep breathing exercises to calm down, journal out your thoughts, or make a quick action plan for how to proceed with whatever is going on. Avoid acting out on emotion, and instead, try to understand the root of that emotion and work to process it so that you can handle things more calmly. The truth is, the only stable thing in your life is yourself, so I believe it is important to return to yourself when things get difficult, creating your own safe space and becoming your own best friend in difficult situations.
3. Release all expectations
When we go into situations with expectations, we may 1) get hurt, or 2) feel unfulfilled, or if things do go our way, they may be lackluster because we've already experienced things going our way several times in our own minds. This is very difficult to do, and I'm sure it is something we all struggle with, but as I've mentioned before, we really cannot control anything. Therefore, the best thing to do when entering a situation in which the outcome is unknown is to release expectations and trust that you will be okay no matter what the outcome ends up being. No, I'm not saying you need a backup plan for everything, or you can't trust that things will work out in your favor (because they will, regardless), but to believe in yourself, your ability to heal, and bounce back if something doesn't go your way.
4. Don't be afraid to try new things and get out of your comfort zone
If something new and different presents itself to you that sounds fun, yet daunting, perhaps it is a sign you need to say "yes". Going with the flow also means trying new things and delving into all of life's adventures, even if they scare you.
For example, remember when I mentioned I got to visit an old friend? Well, one day, she reached out to me asking if I'd like to visit her in Flordia, and although I wanted to, I had never flown by myself before, nor ever taken a trip to visit anyone on my own. Also, I'm not much of a solo adventurer, preferring the comfort of my bedroom over travel. Because of my fear, I almost said "no", but my mom urged me to go; I had lost my two closest female friends and hadn't hung out with anyone besides my boyfriend in some time. So, I said "yes", booked a flight the same day, and headed off two weeks later. Of course, I had a wonderful time, and am so beyond glad I went out of my comfort zone to do something for myself. By going with the flow and accepting life as it came, I was able to say "yes" to something I probably wouldn't have before.
5. Look at every experience as a learning lesson
Everything in life, I believe, happens to teach us lessons, whether small or large. One of the biggest lessons I've learned so far this summer is the importance in being direct, assertive, speaking my mind more often, and saying "no" to things I didn't want to do. I've always had a bit of an issue with allowing people to walk over me due to my people-pleasing nature, but after the conflicts I've experienced this summer, I've been forced to go out of my comfort zone and be assertive about my feelings and wants. My hands trembled while I did it, my words stuttering on my lips, but I did it, and now I have gotten immensely more comfortable with speaking my mind.
For example, that raise I got? Well, I asked for it! Ahhh! It was terrifying to even think about emailing my boss for a raise, but I knew it was well-deserved. Being the only student assistant after my coworker left increased my workload a ton, and working at this job for as long as I have, I knew it was time. So, with shaky fingers, I typed up an email, and that next day, I got my raise!
Not everything happens in our favor originally, but this doesn't mean that we can't learn from the defeats and reframe them as positive learning lessons. For me, doing this helps to release the fear of failure or rejection because failure is never failure but rather an opportunity to learn from our mistakes or the actions of others. We can then take these lessons and can continue to grow into the strong, wise people we are meant to be.
I'm sure going with the flow looks different for everyone, but I hoped my tips have helped you in some way or another. Or at least, I hoped they have reminded you to take a deep breath, and trust that everything will work out in your favor. Because I can assure you--they will.
I will (hopefully) see you next Monday with a new post, all about my reconnection to mindfulness! I am absolutely thrilled to write that one.