The further I burrow into the messy and mulchy business of planning a wedding, the more I’ve been thinking about the concept of free will. I’ve been thinking about freedom of choice.
Jared and I have “chosen” to have a rather large wedding and have “chosen” to make sure certain things are at this wedding (food, booze, music, hopefully a kickass magician) but in reality was it just societal pressure making the choice for us? Was it all preordained in the land of Martha Stewart and Pinterest? Did I even want an assortment of cheeses and crackers as an appetizer!?? (Yes. The answer is always “yes” when it comes to cheese).
Anxiety often has the habit of grabbing hold of the reins and making it feel like we’re simply along for the ride. This can feel especially true when we are trying to pursue love in our lives.
Wedding planning has definitely been poking awake my anxiety. Which then makes me think about how I got here. It has made me think a lot about how we choose the people in our lives. How a series of choices, both choices to take action and choices to not take action have led me to choosing to spend the rest of my life with Jared.
I chose to push through the anxiety of the first few days, weeks, and months of dating this guy.
I chose to be open with Jared. Vulnerable and honest.
I chose to decline a PhD position at a university that would have taken me thousands of miles away from our brand new relationship.
I chose to ignore the fears, doubts, and insecurities that told me I “didn’t know how to be in a relationship.”
I chose to trust my gut.
But not everyone has the freedom to choose their love.
And none of us gets to choose the family we are born into. And this is most weighted for us, pressing on our shoulders like a backpack full of pain, during the holidays.
I know there are loads of people who find difficulty in the season, for one reason or another. As much as it’s a season of joy and cheer and guzzling gallons of mulled wine, it’s also a season for heartache. For some reason, the holidays can be really fucking rough.
Maybe you have a strained relationship with your mother. Maybe you recently lost a loved one and can’t bear the thought of spending the season without them. Maybe you are struggling with loneliness, finance worries, or your kid won’t shut the hell up about needing this one toy/game/Star Wars crap that costs wayy too much.
Whatever your reason, I am sitting here on my couch in Seattle, my cat staring at me to my left and Jared brushing his teeth to my right, telling you it’s okay to feel shitty during the holidays. But then I’m also sitting here to remind you of this: While we are not able to choose the family we are born into, we are able to choose the family with which we surround ourselves. We can create a chosen family.
Remember this. With your friends, with your community, and with your partner — you always have a choice.
I know, from experience, it may not feel like this all the time.
Sometimes we feel certain pressures. Whether from our families, our friends, our churches, our own damn brains. We might feel trapped. We might feel alone.
It can be very scary to start taking steps towards shaping your life — to make choices that align more closely with what you want. It is often incredibly scary to admit you want something and then try for it, because there’s always a chance you will fall short. “Better to not try,” you might find yourself thinking.
When you feel anxiety snatching at the reins of your choices, when you worry you might not have full control of your life, remember you always have a choice. You can choose to take actions, no matter how small.
You can choose to take a deep breathe.
You can choose to give yourself 5 minutes to panic/cry/close your eyes.
You can choose to take a step forward and believe you are worthy of true, growing, love.
Don’t let the holidays, or your anxiety, take this away from you.