Leaving things behind

Pieces of my life surround me in this room, which is not my own, but I’ve called mine for the last seven weeks. Clothes I’m packing, clothes I’m not packing. Mementos. Things that don’t fit in my luggage. Things that make my luggage too heavy. Scraps of paper with lists I’ve checked off. It’s a disaster by my standards, but to a teenager it would be just a room that’s lived in.

Lived in. With what life? This is not a measurement of progress or a plea for staid countenance. These fragments around me depict life as I’ve lived it in the past: the ways I’ve grown or faltered, branched out or remained stunted. And this year has pushed me to grow, in place and in potential, despite my chosen uprooting.

The things I leave behind I value differently than the things I take with me. They are not castoffs. I shed them like delicate snakeskin, organizing them into piles of what to give away, what to dispose of, and what to hold on to.

But I’m taking with me the person I want to become as I leave behind the fragments of an identity that isn’t me. I’m taking with me personal and professional aspirations and leaving behind raw dreams that wouldn’t have worked out anyway. I’m taking with me that which will serve me in my new life and leaving behind habits, relationships, and ways of life that don’t suit me.

This is not done in embarrassment or denunciation of the past. The things I leave behind have taught me what lessons I needed to learn and now I do not need to hold on to them. I leave behind perfectionism, among other things, because I know who I am now.

This is not a fresh start. There is nothing fresh about it. Sloughing off the old is work. Starting anew is work. I look forward to the newness and novelty of the life that awaits me, but I will be surrounded by the gray, dusty molt and pieces of old that must depart or die before I can embrace my new reality.

Transition is foreboding because of what is implied by moving on–giving up habits, things we enjoy, and seeing people we love. Changing our ways of doing things. Learning something new. Transition can be life-giving for the same reasons, though, and I’m taking deeper breaths each day.



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