Day 30: Fear and Flexibility

For about almost a week now, I've put off writing post 30 because of fear. Not fear of having nothing to write about, not fear of writing something crappy, not fear of being judged, and not fear of no one ever reading the post. Fear of post 31. Fear of what's after the last post.

Once I complete the thirtieth post, I only have one more post in the 31 Days of Reentry series. And I'm scared. I'm scared finishing this blog series means I'm finishing reentry, and my heart doesn't feel ready. I'm nervous about the things I want to do with these posts when I've finally completed the series - I'm scared about sharing these sacred thoughts.

I'm not ready for this season to be over.

As much as it's been filled with emotional chaos and breakdowns, it's also overflown with gratitude, learning, trying new things, and walking in the freedom of humility.

Last week, I had a meeting at church about mentoring students through a book club. Stephanie greeted me at the door and then told me she'd forgotten she needed to swing by the school to pick up permission slips from a student. She asked if I minded going on a field trip with her. Of course, I replied I didn't mind. "As a nurse," I told her, "I never know what kinds of crazy things are going to happen! I'm all for flexibility."

As a nurse, that's true. I never know what's going to happen in the course of a shift. I'm all for flexibility.

As a traveler and expat, that's true. I never know what's going to happen overseas or during travels. I'm all for flexibility.

As an English language teacher, that's true. I never know how my students are going to act or how many will show up to class or what they remember from yesterday. I'm all for flexibility.

As a team leader, that's true. I never know when plans are going to change or when an issue with a team member is going to arise. I'm for flexibility. I've even taught others to be all for flexibility.

Yet when I look at myself as a person and my life as a whole, flexibility is nowhere to be found. Somewhere along the way, it fell off the train. Or I threw it out the window because I thought it was interfering with achieving my goals. (I think the latter is more likely.)

This season of reentry is teaching me so many things, but perhaps one of the most important is this: this season is flexible. Furthermore, life is flexible. My goals can be flexible. Timing of life events and achievements and jobs and living my dreams is flexible. Rate of learning and number of lessons learned and kinds of lessons learned are all flexible.

What I planned out to be thirty-one consecutive days of blogging to help me process reentry turned into four months of sporadic posts numbered one through thirty-one. Four months and thirty-one posts can turn into thirty-two, or thirty-three, or sixty-five posts on reentry. And that's okay.

I'm learning to loosen my grip on expectations of self and seasons in life because, much like working on the floor at the hospital or with students in the classroom, living life means working at all times with at least one breathing, changing, sometimes unpredictable human being: myself. I really have less control over myself than I'd like to admit. (Why can't I manipulate my feelings into loving life in Waco again? Why can't I force grief to speed up and emotions to stay boxed up?)

The grace I've extended in certain situations and circumstances that I know to be subject to change--it's time to extend this grace to myself, to my life, on a macro scale. It's time I finally let go of the tight hold I have on the to-do list and the deadlines I have for transitioning, moving through reverse culture shock, finding a new job, deciding what I want to do in life, feeling at home in Waco again, and even healing from physical sickness.

Today, I want to start to let go. I want to travel back to the beginning of this series of posts, when I gave myself permission to have a hard time and wrestle through this process, however long it was going to take. I want to recognize how inflexible I've been with myself over the years, how I've held a rigid set of expectations for perfection long after those standards stopped motivating me and started crushing me. I want to let go. Because I have a feeling this reentry process, unquantifiable and messy and confusing as it is, is making me far richer than the numbers 1 through 31 ever will.