The glitzy markets. The snow-capped mountains. The breath-taking views. The vacation days.
My Instagram and Facebook are littered with winter pictures from the past month. My life appears to be perfection exemplified, but we all know the lies social media convinces us are realities.
That’s not to say my life has been miserable by any means. I have seen unimaginable things, spent time at home with the people I love most in life and experienced things written on my bucket list for years. Life has been quite the adventure lately.
But I also don’t post the times I lay in bed struggling to get up. I don’t post the sad selfies (I never took) when I spent New Year’s Eve and Day on a plane by myself. I didn’t reveal that I stayed cooped up in my room for a few weeks after the terrorist attack in my hometown.
The truth is my life has been a mixture of emotions and experiences lately. I go from mountaintop moments to valley-low nights. I’m afraid I’ve portrayed a false version of myself on social media and my blog lately. My recent posts include travel stories, but nothing about the process I’ve trekked through while adjusting to a new culture and country.
My posts about faith have been lacking because my faith itself has been lacking. I have ignored my faith. I only recently began to feel a part of the church I’ve been attending here in Munich. I started several posts about my struggle with church here but never finished any of them. I nearly quit going on many occasions (and did for a while).
I haven’t been honest with myself. I’ve convinced myself that this is my time – my time to be young, free and my own person. I wanted to try new things and try on a different persona.
That person didn’t fit me. I pulled and tugged to stretch it over me like an ill-fitting shirt. I ignored my passions. I put aside writing (a huge mistake).
As I sat thinking about all of this the other day, I read a great quote to pull me out of the self-loathing depth I was beginning to sink into.
It came from a man who was giving advice to Millennials. His simple but powerful advice: don’t be afraid to have seasons in your life.
I have traveled through several seasons in my life already. I am constantly shifting from one thing to another. It’s not that I’m unhappy. I want to be sure I do everything I can, take every chance I get and don’t miss out on things because I didn’t have the guts to try. But when you constantly put yourself in a position to change, you find out that some of those changes will be good while others will be lessons to learn from.
I’m in a season right now. I was in one for the past four months. It was a very selfish season. I chased after my own dreams, fulfilled my desires and selfishly planned my future. Everything came back to me and what made me happy, which isn’t always such a bad thing. It was the way I approached it that was bad.
I haven’t done what I said I would do when I got here. I haven’t gotten involved in a church like I wanted. I haven’t volunteered with kids at church or any of the refugee centers. I haven’t invested in good friendships like I need. My life has been full but not quite fulfilling.
But isn’t it great that there is always the option to change? And I don’t have to be discouraged about any time I feel I’ve wasted. It was only a season, and I can now enter a new season.
I don’t have to wait for anything or anyone before I change the road I’m headed down. I can change it today, tomorrow, the day after the next and another year down the road if I choose. There is always the possibility of change.
So I took some steps. I signed up to work nursery at church. I went on a church ski trip with 35 other people when I only knew one other person in the group. I emailed several people who are in charge of volunteers at different refugee centers in Munich. I visited a center the past two weeks and am now involved in volunteering with the kids there. I began planning my trips in a less selfish way with people I care about.
The problem was not that I was traveling and fulfilling some of my dreams in these last months. There’s nothing wrong with doing fun and exciting things, but I cannot expect them to fill the void in my heart. That void only has one answer. It’s a round hole where everything else is a square peg.
Every day offers us the chance to make new choices that bring us to new opportunities and versions of ourselves. If you’re not happy with where you are today, change it. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t experience a radical change in a matter of days. It takes time, but take the time to make those minor changes because one day those minor changes will add up to a major change. You might not see it in the day-to-day routine but when you look back a year from now you will see how the smalls changes made the big ones.
At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.