… no sweater even needed in the end! The most important part, of course. 😉
Sometimes, you just gotta lay all your cards out on the table and that’s exactly what we did yesterday. I first met K. in our University practicum decades earlier. We were worlds apart then, neither of us knowing or guessing that we were destined to be friends, true friends, later in life. When we met up again at our common workplace, it wasn’t an immediate connection, but something was there. Slowly, surely, we revealed pieces of ourselves to each other first as professionals, then as acquaintances and so on our relationship went.
It didn’t take long for me to see that our paths were similar as were our struggles. Our talks were genuine and heartfelt. We looked at our lives in much the same way contemplating just where it was that we were each going. Soon, it turned into supporting each other in our own journeys. Taking a weekly yoga class and working out together was a great segue to that next level of friendship. It was an easy transition since there was no pressure from one another to keep it going—it just ebbed and flowed naturally, as it should. Best of all, we could be ourselves with one another without judgement. I mean, the real stripped down versions of ourselves wherein the good, the bad and the ugly all live.
Being in separate fields of work now, and with no group fitness classes during COVID-19, K. and I have relied on the occasional get-together or phone call to catch up with each other. Yesterday was one of our planned lunch meet-ups, and as usual, we picked up exactly where we’d left off from a few months prior. Not unlike most other times as well, we got right into it all. I could tell that her energy was off from the usual and sure enough, there was a reason why. After delving into the not-so-good stuff, we quickly moved into our light bulb moments or take-aways, if you will—one of the reasons I truly value our time together. After all, there’s always something to be learned from our experiences and that learning makes our lives, richer, deeper, and more full as a result. What was both funny and ironic was the part of our conversation that came next. Being like individuals, neither one of us was surprised to hear what the other person had to say and it brought about some much-needed laughs and loud high-fives from our otherwise dark, hidden, corner restaurant table.
Having each recently celebrated the exact same age birthday, we discovered that we’d approached it in an uncannily similar fashion. Coming into oneself is a process—a lifelong one we both embrace. While some things in our lives are a work in progress taking months, even years to unfold, other understandings just seem to click with us overnight and away we go with them. As it turns out, the latter is exactly what happened to each of us on our birthdays. It was decided that this coming year would be different. To celebrate and reinforce that notion, we’d separately ventured out to the store to do some shopping. But, not just any old shopping… key word being ‘old’. In fact, unbeknownst to each other, we’d set off to try on something new, something unusual clothing-wise that we would NEVER normally choose to wear. Better yet, we each purchased our try-ons; hence, my title denoting a romper and a dress. After all, why not dare to be bold at our newest coming of age?!
While her story was definitely more interesting than mine in how her latest buys all went down, the general details were eerily alike (in a good way). Upon changing into our clothing selections, each she and I had confided our purposes and a whole LOT more to complete strangers at the store. Two ‘no-holds barred’ type of encounters which clearly we’d both precipitated with our open mind-set of searching for something novel. Whilst I befriended the two store clerks wooing them with the hardships of the past couple of years and my determination to rise up from, K. found kinship in a fellow customer with whom she had an hour-long fitting room exchange of conversation, laughs and modelling of clothes. As we recounted our change-room tales, stopping every now and again in awe of our mutual words/actions, we couldn’t help but giggle the way two school girls do when sharing the latest dibs on their newest crushes.
After sharing our stories, we found ourselves declaring other truths that we each vowed to uphold in the coming year, including being more of our authentic selves than ever before; as in, really owning who we are despite being unsure of our paths ahead and being okay with the surprise of it all. For some reason, there’s nothing more reassuring than possessing the knowledge that while there are unknowns in our future, we can each trust in ourselves to get *there*, wherever there is. Our younger, former selves would have had great difficulty in letting what will be, be since we’d each had a false sense of security in trying to exert control over things in our lives thereby keeping ourselves ‘safe and protected’—such an exhausting and somewhat self-defeating effort, really. As I said before, however, K. and I come from a place of no judgement. Our belief is that we do the best we can with what we have in any given moment in time. Hindsight may well provide us with an opportunity for reflection, but blame and guilt cannot reside there. The past is the past, the future is the future, and the present is the juncture between the two wherein the choice for happiness lies.
For me personally, and I think for K. too, I am looking to move past my victim/survivor cycle these past couple of years especially and into a space where thriving can begin. Life is short. We all know it. COVID-19 is a constant reminder of that. Time to bid an overdue farewell to by-gones. That may not happen overnight the way in which we each decided to purchase a romper/dress outside of our usual comfort zones, but the important thing is that we have started the process. Cheers to whatever lies ahead for us both! I’ll give you one guess as to what I’ll be wearing as I embark on this next phase. 😉 One thing is for certain and that is that I will leave behind the sweater (a.k.a. my proverbial cover-up), and I’m pretty sure that K. plans to as well. ❤️