What Kind of Person You Want to Be
I’ve been going through notes on my phone, finding half written poems, incomplete story lines, and brilliant 2:00 AM thoughts that turn out to be confusing and typo-ridden by early morning. But I found one just now that echoes something I was thinking about earlier today which must be my sign to share it.
May 31, 2021 10:54 PM (ET)
I can’t decide what kind of person I want to be.
There’s a part of me that is hurt and angry and justified. And so I want to act on that. I want to hold my grudge and know that I was wronged and live through that. I won’t be pushed around or played. I know my worth. And I won’t stand for it.
But then there is a part of me that wants to be soft. That wants to just love people—even at the risk of being burned. But how do you reconcile that with what it feels like to be burned? How do you hold space for love like that?
It reminds me of two of my favorite quotes. The first being Anne Lamott: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
The second being Najwa Zebian: “If you ever get the chance to treat them the way they treated you, I hope you choose to walk away and do better.”
I didn’t want to write about this. I really didn’t want to write about this. How can you write about something that feels unsteady in your heart? But also, how can’t you?
And so I’ve found myself journaling around how we hold bitterness and gentleness; anger and love; betrayal and warmth. What does it mean to forgive? What does it mean to hold on? What does it mean to believe in a Universe that is loving and kind? What does it mean to shut yourself off from that?
How does it feel to open yourself up deeply to another, knowing that person could destroy you? Which is to say, how does it feel to love unconditionally?
I can’t decide what kind of person I want to be. I started the note with that line. As though it was a simple decision I could make on a quiet Monday night, like what I would make for breakfast or what outfit I would wear. As if it was a clear image of who I would be for the rest of my life. As if being soft didn’t mean being strong. As if being kind was a display of weakness. As if believing in people meant I was naive.
No, I think I know what kind of person I want to be. I want to be the kind of person who knows I don’t have to choose. Who knows her worth and value and isn’t afraid to stand up for that. And at the same time, who believes deeply in everyone she meets and isn’t afraid to say I love you; I love you; I love you.
I want to be the kind of person who recognizes there is no one-size-fits-all motto for living. The kind of person who isn’t afraid to sit with what’s messy… to explore what’s complicated… to grow through discomfort.
So it turns out I’m a little bit of Anne Lamott. I know how to hold my own. And I’m also a little Najwa Zebian. I’m always trying to do better. Not for them. But for me. A mix of loud music and herbal tea, a fragment of fire and a lot of love, a kaleidoscope of colliding emotions and experiences: this is the kind of person I want to be.