When You’re at a Crossroad, You Don’t Always Have to Choose

May 26, 2015

Sometimes I fall off the radar completely.

I become near impossible to reach by phone or text unless you’ve scheduled something. My social media accounts may continue to be updated, but I’m certainly not present. Instagram goes dark. Non essential emails don’t get answered. I just… step back.

In those moments it’s incredibly difficult for me to show up for life. It’s not that I’m depressed, it’s that I suddenly just don’t know how to show up. I don’t know how to be in this life and my work anymore.

What I’m learning is that these are important integration points for me. Moments where the internal shifts have completed, and I’ve transitioned into whatever’s next for me. I’ve shed a layer of my skin. I’ve cracked open even further. I’ve shifted in deep and noticeable ways.

When we shift internally, the external suddenly becomes out of alignment. And so we don’t know how to be in our lives, relationships, or work anymore. There’s no place for the new, because everything continues on from the old.

There’s no space for the words that want to come through, because they don’t fit with the branding or the messaging or the containers we’ve created for all the areas of our lives. They don’t fit with the people that belong in our past, because we’re now on to the next, and we no longer know how to have the conversations we had before.

There’s no space for the expressive self that wants to come out and play, because we’re so used to how we were before, like that worn, comfortable pair of jeans and the old white tee shirt we’ve sported for years. Suddenly, it’s like putting on bright red lipstick and a colorful sundress we’ve never worn and saying EVERYONE, LOOK AT ME, I’M DIFFERENT. It feels good and natural and oh-so-vulnerable and uncomfortable all at the same time.

There’s no space for all the feelings and emotions that are swirling just below the surface, because we no longer desire the same things we desired before. And we feel just a little unsteady, because it’s all new and raw and challenging to put into words in a way that doesn’t make us look crazy to the ones who are used to the old words. The old emotions. The stability and predictability. It feels a little like we’ve gone off the deep end.

Oftentimes it feels like a crossroads.

A point where we need to make a choice. Between what was and what is now. Between the people we love and the people we don’t know yet. Between the work we’ve been doing and the work we feel called to do.

But what I’m learning is that it’s not always about choice. It’s not always that we have to leave something or someone behind. Sometimes, absolutely. We’ve simply outgrown a level, layer, relationship, or way of being, and it’s time to move forward.

But sometimes, it’s simply about integration and alignment.

Taking what was and what is now, and finding the middle ground. Finding the point at which everything melds together in a beautiful new way. In a way that is truly aligned with what’s true for us now, and honors what’s amazing about what already exists in front of us.

Changing the size and shape of the containers we’ve created, rather than throwing them out completely. Wearing the bright red lipstick with the comfortable old jeans, rather than totally reinventing ourselves. Having new conversations that invite the old friends to meet us where we are. Giving people time to catch up to us. Embracing the mess of the new emotions as they infuse into the steadiness of our day to day rhythms. As we shift to make space for them and find our footing once again.

I’ve come to what I thought was a crossroads time and time again, for all the years I’ve had this business. A point at which I felt like I had to choose between what I’ve built and where I make my money, and how I really want to show up. Where I really feel called to work and speak and create.

Sometimes it’s simply about integration and alignment.

Not choosing one or the other, but finding the point at which they meld together in a beautiful new way. Creating the space and remolding all the containers. Allowing those and that which need to fall away to go, but not forcing myself to choose. Not forcing myself to leave anything behind I don’t desire to leave behind.

So the next time you find yourself at a crossroad, I want you to ask yourself, “Do I really need to choose? Or do I simply need to integrate and align?”

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