3 of the Most Liberating Words

I Don’t Know

Yeah, not what I expected either. 

It all happened at dinner. I was asking a new friend, “What is the biggest thing you’d like to accomplish in life?” They answered and when they turned the question back to me, it seemed like time froze as my brain frantically searched for an answer.

Up until that moment, I’ve always had an answer to that question. I have since I’ve been a child. I knew that my life’s mission was to be the first woman president in the US…and then a surgeon…and then an astronaut. Even though it kept changing, I’ve always known the answer. 

For four years prior to this trip to Ghana, I dedicated the majority of my energy to healing from some childhood/early adulthood events. As a part of the process, I constantly have to identify negative beliefs and coping mechanisms that I want to let go of. 

While it is extremely exciting to be in a place where negative beliefs no longer run the show, it has left me in a place I never suspected existed. It’s this place where I am aware of what I don’t believe and what habits I don’t want, but then I’m just…empty. I mean, I know what’s NOT true…but what is true? What habits do I want? What do I actually want?  

And as I sat thinking about the question I originally asked my friend, I heard myself utter the words, “I don’t know.” And I haven’t known. I was coping. 

After the words came out, I took a moment to see if panic would overtake me, but something unexpected happened: My shoulders relaxed, a calmness washed over me, and I felt no need to apologize or cover up my answer. I felt complete relief.

Relief?! How could relief come over me when I’ve just admitted that I don’t know what I want to do with my life? All this time, all these projects, all these plans…and I don’t know? Then what am I doing here…or anywhere??

But then I realized not knowing gives me an incredible amount of freedom. I no longer have to force things to work that were never meant to be. And I have the permission to allow things to happen I never knew could be. 

This J-cation (J Lyn + vacation) has been a perfect example. Before coming I had the hardest time explaining to people why I was traveling to Ghana for such a long period of time. I’d say things like, “to set up a program for my students to be able to visit Ghana” or “to teach dance” or “to network”…and all of these things were true, but the answers never felt complete and I couldn’t place why. 

Shortly after admitting not knowing, I realized I came to Ghana because I didn’t know why I wanted to come to Ghana. And now, thanks to this journey, I’ve discovered many positive beliefs and new habits I will hold on to for the rest of my life.

Before coming, one of my hopes was to figure out what changes I wanted to make in my life career-wise. While this was one of many goals I didn’t meet, I know it’s okay that I don’t know. 

I know that I love dance. I know that I want to explore Lagos, Nigeria. I know that I am excited for this program for my students to travel to Ghana. I know that I am ready to come back to NYC. I know that my experience in Ghana has been both amazing and amazingly challenging and I know that I’m ready to move on. But after that…

I don’t know.

And that’s a relief.

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