Like any emotionally stable human being... when I get really upset, I clean. I tear through my bedroom recycling and donating anything I no longer feel holds significance to my every day existence.
For the past few days, I’ve been deep cleaning every part of the house, organizing closets and cupboards and doing my small part to make the world a little neater. After having completely 180-ed my closet, I was finally able to see the floor of my bedroom again. Only one thing remained on my blue comforter… the card box:
My card box actually comes in two parts. The first is an elementary school Valentine’s Day box. It held not only Valentines but eventually cards from birthdays and other occasions. Soon, though, that box spilled over into a brown paper bag and the two sat, side by side on a shelf, untouched except for the occasional addition of a slid-in card.
I sat on my floor and opened the box. I was being thorough, and that meant facing it.
What happened next was a journey through not just my life in recent years, but dating as far back as 3rd grade. I read cards from friends and family who have since passed away. I teared up as I read notes from impactful teachers and music instructors. I laughed as, after a while, I could tell what card was from which friend based on the maturity level and outside handwriting.
So I sat on my bedroom floor, surrounded by what I can only think of as an outpouring of love. There were thank you notes and holiday greetings. There were letters from pen pals and even some post cards. There were pictures and quotes and even a duplicate of the same card from the same friend [Here’s looking at you, KM].
But the thing that hit me the hardest was the graduation cards. It’s been 2 and a half years since I walked across the stage to receive my high school diploma but I can still remember the elation I felt as it was placed in my hand.
Now, I’m a year away from receiving a second diploma--this time from my university--and with that realization comes a lot of excitement, and naturally, a lot of fear.
I was discussing this with a family member recently when I realized, “this is my last ‘winter break.’ After next year, I think it’s just called ‘get a job.’” Suddenly, I was in panic mode, thinking about all the things I wanted to do with my life. All the people I wanted to be.
I began wondering if I would ever be able to live up to what everyone seemed to think I was capable of.
“I’m just a 20-year-old kid. I still run around barefoot in the winter to commemorate the first snowfall! I can barely make spaghetti! How am I supposed to change the world!?”
I began to feel the pressure. I’m the baby of my family—even in my extended family I only have two younger cousins—so I’ve been able to watch where life has taken all of them. I’ve been able to see their lives shift together as I watch my friends and family achieve.
What if I can’t do the same?
What if I can’t live up to these expectations?
What if I’m not enough?
That’s where I was at as I sat down tonight to sift through the card box. That’s where I was at when I felt my friends, family, and neighbors reaching out to me with support. They didn’t just “expect” me to be able to know what I was doing just like that…but they knew I could get there.
That’s when it hit me. I didn’t have a weight of pressure breathing down my neck, waiting to see if I made the right decisions. I had a league of people fighting in my corner, ready to watch where the future led me. They believed in me. And “me” is enough.
Thanks, everyone. I mean it when I say your words, re-read years later, mean the world.
To quote the end of one particular Hallmark card that left me choked up…
“Because the world needs you…just as you are.”
And “you” is exactly enough.