Packing vs. Baggage

I’m a zealous over-packer. I like to have options. I like to be prepared for any number of situations, events, or misfortunes. My over-packing will, nine times out of ten, result in carrying back four or five outfits I never had the opportunity to wear when the trip concludes.

At least I got to work out my biceps, carrying all that weight around?

I like to comfort my overactive imagination (OK, let’s call a spade a spade, anxiety) with options, to feel prepared, ready for anything that may arise and anywhere travels may take me. They usually take me exactly where it is predicted I will be going, and a narrowed selection of attire would suit the occasions just fine, just as my husband tries to impart upon me as I struggle to zip the zipper.

This week, as more discussions and plans are happening around lifting stay-at-home orders and reopening businesses to the public, I’m trying to work out what I want to carry with me as I step outside the bubble I have been occupying.

How can we best prepare ourselves for what will greet us on the other side of this pandemic?

We will not be going back to the life we once knew. Normal is – and always has been – relative; we will not be able to rely on previous experiences. We must prepare ourselves, so that we do not plunge back into the abyss, the cycle of anxiety, anger and grief we have already walked.

Acceptance is going to be at the heart of moving forward.

How can we rethink, reframe normal? How can we begin to become accepting of the environment we will soon find ourselves in? A rush to “reopen” will not be a return to what was. This will hit us every time we venture out, to visit businesses, partake in previous activities. Our instinct will be to react against new rules, regulations and stipulations. If we don’t prepare ourselves, our emotions will be ripped open again, and we will rail against the new and wax poetic on what was.

I’m not sure how to build myself a cushion for those emotions just yet, but what I can work on is strengthening past behaviors I needed to change.

I am working through recognizing not just what I want to pack up and take with me from this pause, but also what I don’t want to continue to carry.

I will have to let go of some old habits, stories, mindsets if I want to emerge from this pause any better than I went into it, and create space for acceptance of the new.

When you are evaluating what you can pack up and take into this new season of life, not from when life was normal, but from what you have learned during this pause, think about what baggage you can unload that you no longer should be carrying.

For me, a few things that occupy that baggage list are:

Being less honest than I want to be and justifying it with the platitude of being nice. One can still be honest, and kind.

Doubting myself.

Feeling guilty when my values and choices don’t align with someone else’s.

Feeling badly when I say no to something I didn’t really want to commit time to, and feeling that it’s necessary to provide an explanation.

Doing things simply because others do them, or expect or believe I should be doing them.

Perpetuating stories that I was given, or accepted, and believe as truths that aren’t my storyline.

All of these things that I do, I typically do so under the guise of being kind or accommodating, and really I am simply undermining myself time and time again. These learned behaviors that have plagued and followed me through my journey are not beneficial to me, no matter how they mask themselves. Right now, I can cultivate, strengthen and reinforce my trust and confidence in myself. It’s misdirected to believe that others give you this; it’s only something you can gift yourself.

Pick and choose what you carry into this new season. We have the choice to leave most of what weighed us down before behind.

What are you packing, and what are you leaving behind in baggage claim?

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