I am very into author Elizabeth Gilbert right now. I read Eat, Pray, Love a few years ago, at a time when I really needed it, and I know people tend to have mixed feelings on it, but I really connected with it and loved it. I really related to it. Romantic failure devastates me and romantic love consumes me, as it seems to for Elizabeth Gilbert. I have really surprised myself in that this breakup has not caused me to go running halfway across the world to escape my feelings. I can almost guarantee you that if I had not snagged this amazing new job (well, I hope it’s amazing – I haven’t actually started yet), I would have gone running halfway across the world in order to mend my broken heart and learn how to be me again. But luckily for all my East Coast friends and family (and my bank account), I have found a reason to stay in DC and so am learning once again how to live happily again, but this time without running from myself. In fact, instead of running away from myself, I have found that I am learning more and more about myself and really taking care of myself, and it’s working. It’s working so incredibly well. It feels like spring. And I don’t just mean because of the unseasonably great weather we’ve been having. I feel like I have clawed myself out of a deep dark winter and have rediscovered the magnificence that is the world. To be fair, I am practiced in heartbreak. This is not my first rodeo. And Rich did not invoke an unrivaled passion in me causing a panic that I would never find something so true or explosive or magical when he left. Trust me, I have been there and it did not end well. But, he was important to me, and he deeply hurt me, and it has been work getting over it. I am not entirely out of the woods yet, but I am on my way.
Anyway, back to Elizabeth Gilbert. I follow her on Facebook, and what she has to say resonates with me. It’s so real. Daily, she has such true and useful things to say about love, relationships, creativity and life. So, having already been super interested in what she has to say, my dear friend Kelsey and I got into a discussion about her a few weeks ago, and Kelsey recommended that I check out her podcast about passion versus curiosity, entitled Flight of the Hummingbird – The Curiosity Driven Life. Finally today, as I was doing some healthy meal prep for the week (butternut squash chili and vegetable stir fry woot woot!), I decided to finally listen to this podcast as I decided I’d had enough Justin Bieber music for the weekend (I’m not listening to the Justin Bieber Pandora station as I write this or anything, I swear!).
I would highly recommend that you listen to this podcast, especially if you are someone like me, who has struggled to find the very thing that you are passionate about in life. I have always had so many interests that I have never been able to focus on just one. I’ve always envied those people who have known since they were kids that they wanted to be doctors or teachers or musicians. I flit from hobby to hobby, place to place, interest to interest, never knowing quite where I’ll go next. I’m constantly reading multiple books at once, overbooking myself during the week because I don’t want to miss out on anything. And yet, I have always felt the lack of passion for one thing. I’m not phenomenal at any one thing. I was never a star soccer player or competitive gymnast. I haven’t written an album or published a novel (though I hope to someday!) or gotten a PhD. Not because I don’t have the brains or ability or drive. But because I’ve never been able to focus enough on one thing, dropping all the other interests I’ve had in order to do so. In this podcast, Elizabeth Gilbert finally gives a name for people like me: hummingbirds. Rather than being jackhammers, the lucky people who know exactly what they want and dedicate their entire lives to going after that one thing, hummingbirds weave from one idea or interest or hobby or job to the next, spreading ideas wherever they go. Hearing this was so empowering for me. This amazing, successful author stood up in a room of hundreds of people and validated exactly what I am.
I am a hummingbird. I am a hummingbird. I AM A HUMMINGBIRD!
And you know what? I like being a hummingbird! Being a hummingbird has led me to so many cool places and allowed me to meet so many cool people. I don’t have to fear that I’m going to miss out, because when something interests me, I am not afraid to drop something else that no longer does and go out and try it. Listening to this podcast today was just so relevant for me right now. I am getting back on a path of being me, and being the best me, and I truly believe the best me, the most happy me, is out there experiencing every part of life that I can and following every spark of curiosity that I have. I think sometimes because I get so wrapped up in romantic relationships, my curiosity and passion for life get clouded and I tend to lose sight of myself and what makes me happy, especially if my partner doesn’t live his life the same way.
I was lucky enough to spend my Saturday this week with an amazing group of women, all of whom are incredibly passionate about life, have crazy cool jobs and hobbies and truly seem happy. We went out to the Shenandoah National Park and hiked Old Rag, which is a popular, sort of difficult eight mile trail with a lot of rock scrambles where you have to pull yourself up and down crevices. It’s an amazing full body workout! We were talking about being female and single, and how society tends to make us believe that we should always be looking for the next partner to make us whole. I am guilty of doing this to myself. I signed up for online dating (but didn’t actually go on any dates) less than a month after Rich broke up with me. I felt like in order to win, in order to feel better and like myself again, I needed to find the next, better partner.
But you know what? As one of these amazing women pointed out, none of us need another person to be whole. Believe me, a month after Rich broke up with me, I would not have been a good partner to anyone. I don’t even think I would make a good partner now. I’m too concerned with finding happiness for myself and figuring out what it is I want out of life. I would be doing myself a great disservice by being distracted from that focus. I’m not saying I don’t want to date again. Of course I do. I love love. I love men (although lately I basically hate men (not friends and family of course, mostly just obscure men that I don’t know and ex-boyfriends), but I’m told that’s all part of the process and I pretty much believe it). I could change my mind tomorrow or next week or next month or next year and decide it’s time to date again. But right now, I am getting to know myself again, and it feels so, so good.
Has anyone else been on a similar journey of self-exploration? What have you learned or taken away from it?