I laughed out loud the other day as I read the NY Times article, Giving In to Letting Go. The piece was all silliness about ditching beauty routines given that we are all sequestered in our living rooms. High heels, make-up, manicures, hair dye, underwear, accessorizing, and blow dryers…all took it on the chin. There was an important message threaded amidst all this casting off. What do we do when expectations – in whatever form – are suspended?
The article tried to answer that question. There was one woman who couldn’t let go entirely. She quipped, ‘I still wear my lipstick!’ Another reveled in the freedom away from straightening irons and beauty parlor chairs. Still another shared that her beauty regime was how she enacted her blackness, a fundamental piece of her identity.
The identity reference was strong. It was like a punch in the nose. What about expectations and who they allow us to be?
Expectations stand at the core of transitioning. A transition starts when we choose to decouple from expectations set for us by others. By families, by communities, by professions, by lovers, by friends. It is a courageous act that isn’t so much a leap but a pivot. We turn away only to turn up the volume on what is uniquely our own. Our own voice. Our own truth. In transitioning, we don’t eschew all that has been. We learn to feather it into our new direction, one fueled by all that we are capable of becoming. Those who love us cheer at this pivot, many others stand bewildered.
Transition isn’t easy. It includes loss or sadness or grief. Something. After all, in it we step away from things that held us in place. We may begin by bending the boundaries of what we always thought was acceptable – like not wearing lipstick or skipping the SPF 50 moisturizer. These early steps may lead to bigger ones. We may reconsider what it means to be successful. What it means to love, or be loved.
You might ask, ‘Who in their right mind would take on all of this?’
That answer is easy.
Those who go there recognize transition’s unparalleled gifts. The gifts start appearing right from the get go. There are improvements in our well-being and positivity; there are contributions to our longevity, there are newly reset thoughts about success. From my perch, the most extraordinary gift of all is capacity. Transition builds in us the capacity to grow into our fullest self. For this alone, I view it as an essential process in life. One too few explore. Transition gives us the currency to see what is in there with us and to celebrate! (Hopi Elder).
See if you can find a moment in the days ahead to recognize how it feels to suspend an expectation. Is there one part of your life – like a beauty routine – that it emanates from? Wonder what that is telling you.
This pandemic – for all its loss and hardship and devastation – is unknowingly offering us a glimpse at something important. Thanks to it, we can dip our toe into the waters of suspending expectations.
May health, safety and security blanket you and all those around you. And, may you gain confidence from your ability to recognize who is in there with you…and celebrate.
Stay safe and well. Linda R. (linda@WomenAndTransition.com)
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