Walking with Surrender
A few years back, I went to a new year’s goal setting workshop. My nerves were higher than normal as I walked into a room of strangers and found my seat. There were only about 7 women in the workshop, but it was enough to feel the shared desire for change upon entry. It was a perceptively exciting fresh start to a new year. It was 2017.
In the middle of the table, sat a bucket of small rocks and an assortment of markers. “Oh here we go” I thought “we’re going to have to write something on the rocks aren’t we…. How much did I pay for this workshop again?”. The cynicism I felt had already taken root and the workshop was barely underway. Yes, I, Cammy Nelson, had one foot out the door in a personal growth workshop before it even had a chance to begin. Maybe you’ve been in those very shoes, yourself?
I picked my rock from the group. Per usual, I wanted something with a color in the blue family and a soft texture. Something that didn’t offer much resistance. I wanted to be comfortable with the way the rock felt it my hand. I wanted it small, smooth, and insignificant enough to manage with ease. Never did I think I would ever put so much thought into… a rock.
As a group, were were told to select one word that would encompass the year we wanted for ourselves. Fluffy, exciting words and concepts began to flash through my mind…
It all sounded so nice, so exhilarating. I didn’t want to acknowledge the thought that they all sounded a little bit like personal-growth buzz-words that feel like a load of crap. Whether or not I wanted to admit it to myself, I knew the exact word I had to write on that rock.
That was it. That was the one thing I’d always struggled with being able to take out of theory and put into practice. That word had been handed to me and thrown in my face before. Surrender and I had never been friends. Surrender felt too much like waiting, and I didn’t like to wait. So, I didn’t. I ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction. I ran towards control. And I, repeatedly, found myself tripping and falling along the very same road that I thought, from a distance, would be easy to run across. There were always surprises around the corner I could never see from a distance, and they always knocked me on my rear-end when I charged into them. It was time to acknowledge that pattern and slow down enough to enjoy the scenery around me instead of focusing on the path ahead.
I wrote my word on a rock that day. Two and a half years later, I’m still working on it. Surrender and I have daily conversations about why I feel the need to rush. Surrender asks me questions to which I don’t have an answer and challenges me to believe that I don’t have to have all the answers. Right now or ever. I do not have to have all the answers. Sometimes, “I don’t know” is exactly where I need to be before I can reach the truth.
Surrender has taught me how to be okay with not knowing. My tendency is to attempt control by anticipating outcomes and acting to prevent those undesired outcomes. This approach is entirely fear-based thinking. I haven’t been taught to anticipate the day when I’ll have one million dollars and more clients than I can handle. No, it’s the opposite. It’s the voice of the oppressor: the voice fear. Fear of not being enough, not doing enough, not having enough, fear of running out of time. Fear on one shoulder, surrender on the other. Fear in one ear, faith on the other. Anxiety in my head, dreams in my heart. In my life, it’s a daily choice. Therapy has helped immensely, but there’s still a conscious conversation. Deep breaths, words of affirmation, and reflection on what I’ve already been capable of accomplishing.
Those practices have come from a hand-in-hand walk with surrender. Fear tries to abduct my mind, throw me in the car, and hit the gas, but I’ve learned how to defend myself. I’ve learned how to take control of the wheel and steer the car in the direction I choose. It’s not easy. But, what it boils down to is a choice between living in misery and living in peace.
The working title of the memoir I have yet to write is “You’re too hard on yourself: the life and times of Camryn Nelson”. Just last night, while sharing a drink with my boyfriend, that very phrase presented itself, once again. “You’re too hard on yourself.” It’s a measurement. A statement meant to imply that the expectations I hold of myself are too far beyond the line of reason. It’s a signal that my understanding of the norm is, in fact, incorrect. Time to course correct and choose grace and kindness. It’s time to, once again, have a conversation with surrender.
If you’re feeling yourself living in a state of fear, know you’re not alone. In fact, you’ve likely been conditioned to be in fear. A lifetime of fear-based, negative, and vitriolic marketing and political climates will do that to a person. You’re not alone. But, maybe it’s time to change the default recording in your head that tells you fear and anxiety are the norm. They’re not. They’re the consequence of a life immersed in capitalism and greed. They’re the consequence of a sell, sell, sell culture supported by consumer behavior that communicates fear works really well. Really, really, well. It is motivating, it is persuasive, and it’s all a bunch of crap. I promise.
My walk with surrender has been an intentional choice to live a life that doesn’t result in a heart attack at a young age brought on by too much stress. Surrender has revealed to me the beauty of consistency and persistence over perfection. Progress, always progress over perfection. That is my wish for you this week. Choose an expectation of progress over perfection. Allow surrender to settle in next to you and put fear in the back seat.