Beyond Surrender: Taking Up Room

Life has been a shit-show as of late.

Perhaps shit-show isn’t the correct term, but rather it feels like every aspect of my life is in flux.  I have made significant life changes in a short amount of time, and I’ve been left reeling.

I got married.

I quite my 40-hour a week job, with benefits, to pursue the life of entrepreneurship, with the comfort of coffee-shop management on the side.

My entire comfortable routine, the framework through which I understood my life, disappeared, and I’m starting from scratch.

For someone who fantasizes about the freedom of spontaneity, I sure do get uncomfortable in the face of the unknown.

So I started leaning into the fear and stress that’s been rattling around these last few months.  I’ve been indulgent with my frustration, self-medicating and self-loathing.  All of which are easier to manage than sorting through the pieces of my life and fitting them back together into something better than the image before.

When I hear the word surrender, I picture a placid woman, illuminated in soft light.  Someone who has accepted the way life is, and has let go.

Basically the opposite of how my surrender into this new life has looked for me.

The last few months have anything but placid.

And I’ve been waiting for that moment to happen—that moment when I reach satisfaction.  But as it where, surrender has lead me to something else.  Things like self-medicating in ways that aren’t healthy, and giving into a level of self-loathing for my life that has become depressed.

But I think seasons of life like this are necessary, they drop you down to a level that forces you to build your life back up in ways you couldn’t have without losing everything you knew before.

Which has lead me to the place beyond surrender: taking up room in ways I haven’t before.

This big life shift all stemmed from a dissatisfaction for the way my life was.  I was no longer happy with my routine and was banging myself on the cages of that framework—metaphorically (although I did occasionally literally want to smack my face on the wall, but I never did).

So I took the chance and made gradual shifts into this new and unsettled life, and all this mess has been the best thing that could have happened.

I always pictured my life standing in meadows, or being dwarfed by mountains, and awed by the beauty that happens around us every day—and capturing it with a camera, and with words, and giving those experiences away to other people.

Before I threw myself into this life of part-time coffee shop work, and part time freelance writer, I would have never had the confidence to take up room in the ways I dreamed of.

We shrink away from the things that scare us, or the things we want so badly, but feel like we don’t deserve for lack of experience or know-how.  And then those dreams just keep on going as they are.

Taking up room is something that women in particular are conditioned not to do—culture tells us to shrink out bodies so we physically take up less room, and to speak softly and with good politics as to not offend or hurt anyones feelings.  Or, worst of all, be seen as vulnerable and emotional, the two things we’ve been taught that a woman should not be.

So I’m taking up the camera and teaching myself how to use it—even if my work is shit, even if no one cares about how a bright yellow flowers looks against a stormy sunset, even if I don’t really know how to use my camera yet.

And I’ve started writing again, speaking my truths as I come to know them, so maybe I can use my gift for writing to help you navigate this tricky life, too.  Even if I feel like my opinion doesn’t matter.  Even if I feel shaky hitting “publish,” like my vulnerability will make you cringe.

I’ve started taking up room in the realms I’ve dreamed of mastering and shaping my life around, because if I don’t, I’ll live a life of easy surrender—a life of self-medicating and loathing that is about as fun as actually smashing my face on a wall.

And I guess as I reflect back on the 12 hours pictured here, I’ve realized that taking up room with my camera is not as terrifying as I thought it was, and that maybe my photos aren’t so bad.  

It’s also given me the opportunity to live that life I pictured.  Granted, I never pictured stumbling out of the tent at 5:30am to welcome one of the most colorful and calm mornings I have ever encountered, barefoot in my skivvies.  But it did.  

And I planted my bare-ass on a rock and relaxed into that sunrise, feeling the warm summer air on my mostly naked body, and snapped a few photos.

And if I had to describe it, I would call it placid.

© Cayla Vidmar July 26, 2016