Lately I have been struggling to write. Though it has always been the thing that sings to me. When I was younger, among other things, I wanted to be a singer, an actress, a poet, a writer, a teacher, and a doctor. Writing has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. I still have childhood and teenage diaries (oh the drama hunty!). . . and it is in my most vulnerable and powerful places that I write the best stories. Still, until tonight, I had nothing to say, nothing to share, nothing to sing. . .
I contribute my lack of enthusiasm to put “pen to paper” so to speak, to the fact that I’ve been working 70+ hours a week. Both on and off campus. Coming early, leaving late. I’m actually writing this post from my campus office. . . it’s 7:14p.m. and though I am exhausted, hungry and frustrated about a multitude of things, I have to get this thought to you. So I am.
Over the past few months–I feel embarrassed even saying that–as it reaffirms that it’s been that long since I last wrote to you, it’s been that long since I last sang my favorite song. It is for that long, that I have been searching for myself. Have you ever done that? Lost yourself? In being everything to everyone, you are nothing, to you? Well that was me, until tonight. No one ever tells you that chasing your dreams becomes harder and harder when you agree to love and pour into just one more person because before you know it, you’re pushing them to chase their dreams too. And in doing so, you give up a little bit more of your own. . . sometimes.
But I’m back. I return to you full and happy and still, a little perplexed and ragged to be quite frank, but most importantly, found. I return to you having sung again. . . I am here, and I am singing my song.
Part of why I am working so late on this particular evening is because I agreed to support a student with a rather interesting dilemma. The specifics of her situation aren’t for this post, but the resolution involved a professor, and he is the reason I am singing. In meeting with him I found him to be extremely warm, calming and joyful. Have you ever met a person whose joy you could feel? Not just in that moment, but you could tell that joy frequented them? He was that kind of a person. Soulful and kind. He helped me to help her and helped me too. I’m a firm believer that when you’re doing God’s work, he’ll find a way to work on you. . . tonight was one of those kind of nights.
I am typically rather firm about boundary setting in the work place. I try to work late one night a week and only if/when I have to. For me, working late isn’t just being in the office late. It’s the days when the office closes at 5 and I take a meeting at 6, then stay until 7:30 or 8 to avoid traffic, get home at 8:30, check-in with family til 9:30, shower and then re-engage with work. It’s unhealthy to do this ALL OF THE TIME, leaving little room to just be, to breathe, to relax, to readjust and to check in and on YOURSELF. Knowing this, I still, work late. Too often. And it’s generally because there’s so much work to do and I am much more productive when it’s quiet. I have found that there are fewer interruptions in the evenings. So, on tonight, my staying late proved to be rather fruitful in more ways than one. As we wrapped up the meeting the Professor’s final piece of advice was to “trust the process and do what you love”, he went on with, “if it does not make you sing, it is not for you.” In that moment I smiled. I thought, “THAT. IS. IT!” By it, I meant, that is what has been missing! That is what I am looking for. That is what I needed! My song.
I rushed back here to get my thoughts published and for a while, I just set here. What he spoke, was for me, a revelation. If it does not make you sing, it is not for you. Have you ever eaten something so delicious you have to sing about it? Ever had your back or head rubbed so good you wanted to sing about it? Ever enjoyed something or someone, so much that you wanted to sing about it? Perhaps you did. I know that when I am enjoying a variety of things, music is typically present, either in the space, in the mind, or in my heart. I took his sentiments with that same kind of joy that a good meal, great back rub, or favorite past-time or person might bring.
It’s been hard for me to write, because my heart has not been singing. Singing takes energy, it takes time, it takes attention. Those are all things I have not had lately. Many thanks to my work–and I don’t say that lightly–I am singing again. Had I not stayed late to accompany and advocate for this student, It may have taken me a lot longer to find my song. I am using singing/song/sang synonymously with writing/write/written, because that is my joy. Writing, is my song. There may be something else that is true to you, that feels like it’s your thing, that belongs to you in a way that is hard to explain. Or maybe you have not found what your song is. But writing is mine. It is my favorite thing to do alone. It is my outlet, it is my peace and recently, It has been non-existent.
I know that for many people finding themselves or finding their niche or their song, so to speak, is a rather difficult thing to do. For students selecting a major, friends selecting lovers, colleagues selecting new opportunities, it is, like many things, a process. Over the last four months, it has been my biggest challenge and I recognize now I wasn’t looking in the right places. Often times when we’re searching for our next BIG thing, our new and improved song, or simply, ourselves, we forget to look within. I always tell my son that everything he will ever need in this life, he carries inside of himself. God, motivation, love, intellect, answers, it’s like the JC Penny slogan, all inside. . .
I know that it sometimes seems impossible to access though. Even for me. Having taught other people hundreds of times how to find themselves, how to search for answers, how to re-engage with what they love, it was still a challenge for me. I feel that life has a way of humbling us, our bodies have a way of slowing us down and I think God has a way of showing us that our need for him is ever-present. . . I likewise think our songs have a way of showing us that they are gifts and like many gifts, when we fail to use them, we lose them- – or so I feel.
The last few months, for me, have been many things. The first word that comes to mind is uncomfortable, but it has brought me to a place that I wouldn’t otherwise be in, so for it, I am extremely grateful. In searching for answers, in looking for me, in finding my song, I learned the following trues:
- There is not always a singular answer. I think as human beings we search high and low for the one thing and the right thing and we often don’t associate our lack of imagination to our challenges. I know that I serve an infinite God and so my possibilities are like him, limitless.
- Your song is not going to be found in someone else. As much as we rely on human connection, our happy is something that is all our own. It’s up to us to know it, to grow it, to be responsible for it–both when it is present, and when it is not.
- If God gave you your song (your gift, your tool for happiness, your niche), you can’t give it to someone else to sing. It’s yours. It’s made by Him, for your use. It’s like a tailor made suit.
- If you ever find yourself, your song, your gift lost, you can always return to the maker. It is Him and only Him, that can show you where to find it and how to recover it and sometimes, he will use his people and his devices, to help you.
I hope that if you’re reading this as someone who is looking for themselves, their song, their happy, that you find comfort in knowing the same way I found mine, you can find yours. . . and that the same God who gave me mine, will grant you yours. . and that the same God who helped me find mine, will be your GPS too. Be encouraged that you will find it and when you do, ask yourself, Does it sing to me?