Being in the midst of a quarter life crisis often reminds me that there is an importance balance between holding on and letting go.
Sometimes I want to keep clutching something---or someone---with all of my might, just to ensure pride or survival or rebellion (or maybe all three) , without realizing that maybe all the negative signs and emotions are the universe's way of saying "Just call it quits already. There's better out there for you."
Relationships: When I was younger, I had these idealistic pictures of relationships that were created by Disney movies, books, and poems.
Growing up and being in my first relationship made me think that those did not exist. Obviously, elements of them are exaggerated but I thought, for so long, that people just weren't happy every day with a person. That the monotony of daily life wore away that "honeymoon" excitement, that everyone takes everyone else for granted, that I simply expected too much of my romantic life.
But in my relationship now, I know, looking back, that so much of that previous acceptance came from my refusal to let go. I took more pride in the investment and did not know what was really best for me. Tearing away from the relationship was traumatic as I did not realize how much of myself with woven with another person and how distorted my idea of "healthy" was.
I had to let go to realize that I can be part of a union that brings me peace, friendship, and a day to day happiness. That maybe my childhood portraits of love weren't that crazy.
Writing: I spent around eight solid months working on the first draft of my novel. An agent read the first 50 pages and gave me polite feedback and an even more polite, "thanks, but no thanks." We ended up talking on the phone and she gave me even more feedback, all of which sent me into a whirlwind of feelings. The take home message: I would have to rewrite everything, make a stronger plot, and even give birth to some new characters.
At the time, I was devastated. My months of editing and creation all gone to waste? Those paragraphs I became attached to? And how about those non writers who kept asking me ridiculous questions about when my book was coming out?
I moped for a bit. But then I spoke to some trusted people in my life, read some author bios and interviews, and learned that this is nothing compared to what so many writers go through. Entire 500 page manuscripts are in some people's recycling bins and there are so many words that will never be seen by anyone else.
I started my rewrite last May and am so much more content with my work. There was so much I had to learn (and am still learning!) that it was almost foolish for me to think that my first attempt--ever--would be it. I think of all the writers sitting in front of their own computers, or sheets of paper, some of them writing pages that will travel; others, producing tidbits that maybe they will only see.
And I am so happy to be a part of that.
Letting go, in many instances, has been the best thing I could have done for myself. Nobody ever said it was easy or that it would even be clear when it was time to let go.
But maybe viewing the difference between holding on and letting go is a part of our own evolution. I'm not sure if I'll ever get it down perfectly, but I know I'll keep trying!