Finding Hope: Listen

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had a bad habit of turning your nose up at “advice”.  Sometimes you just want to bitch about your life, and your loved ones think they need to help.  Which is appreciated of course, but in the moment, you aren’t really open to hearing it.  I really do get it.  Promise.  But the problem with that is many times, you actually do need to hear what others have to say.  That second perspective can actually change your life.

I remember having conversations with my dad years ago about how different our priorities were.  In all of my naivety, I thought that mine would stay the same.  I didn’t much care about how nice my house was (as long as it was clean and decent of course), and I wasn’t at all interested in traveling.  I had a vehicle that cost nearly as much as my house payment, and that made perfect sense to me.  We are all just different, I thought.

What I didn’t know then was that I wasn’t at all different; I just didn’t get it.  Having a nice home and being able to take vacations is something I absolutely need.  It doesn’t mean I need a million dollar mansion – not at all.  But it does mean that it’s important to me to have a home I put lots of effort into – a home that makes me want to invite over family and friends.  I need a home that feels comfortable and familiar.

As far as vacations, it turns out that they don’t have to be big grand adventures.  When you’re a military family, most of your vacation time is spent driving back and forth to your home state to see loved ones.  For us, the remaining time consisted of piddling around the house.  Lazy time together.  J and I had secured this identity as homebodies.  We thought that fit us.  So very wrong.  I’m learning that I like experiencing new things – big or small.  And vacations are a part of that.  For now, I am obviously confined to the island(s), but there is a lot to see here.  So I’m doing that.  But when we move back to the mainland, I plan to take many small trips to see everything I can.

We have these identities for ourselves, and we shape our stories around them.  We refuse to budge when someone gives us advice because we know ourselves better than anyone.  Right?  Hilariously enough, no.  I’m a totally different person that I ever thought I was.  And I’m sort of having fun learning just exactly who I am.  I didn’t need to be reinvented really, because I never was a homebody.  And you know how I know that for sure?  I was miserable living in that identity.

We are all guilty of the “yes, but….” response when someone tries to help.  It’s weird how we are so determined to stay exactly the same – hoping the world around us changes to somehow make us happy.  But ultimately, I’ve learned that it wasn’t me that was even the problem.  It was my thought process.  It was my inability to admit that I really didn’t have a clue.  I didn’t know what I wanted.  I had everything in the world that I thought I wanted, and it never made me happy.  It’s the reason I talk so much about vision boards.  It isn’t the boards that are essential.  It’s knowing what the hell you want in the first place.
Unfortunately, we can’t always figure these things out without other influences.  So I encourage you to listen.  Listen to others’ stories about their own happiness.  Listen to your loved ones or even strangers when they give you advice.  It won’t all be helpful.  But if there is an area of your life that isn’t bringing you joy, open your heart to figure out why.  The person trying to give you advice may not have everything together, but maybe their experience in that one area could change your life.  When we immediately close ourselves off to any foreign ideas, we aren’t hurting anyone but ourselves.  Having someone to commiserate with has its place, but ultimately we want to be happy, right?

But my biggest advice is to listen to yourself.  If your heart flutters a little when you try something new, do more of that.  If spending time with certain people fills you with dread, do less of that.  Listen to your heart when it says anything is possible.  You deserve to be happy.  Don’t ever limit yourself.  Your version of happiness doesn’t have to fit in a box.  It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.  Every single day is a learning experience.  It’s our job to be good students.  Sometimes you need to just close your eyes and listen.