Beer stresses me out. Which I imagine one could say is a good thing. If beer tends to stress you out, you tend to avoid beer. Or at least in my case. And at least any beer that isn’t normal beer.
Let’s back up just a bit. I am a play it safe kind of girl. I grew up that way. I had a grandmother and parents who taught me by example to stay the line, walk the straight and narrow. Follow the rules and maintain the status quo. Learn from the vast majority what is right and wrong and worth following or not. Live quietly and safely.
So I followed the middle-ground crowd. I listened to music the radio stations played. I dressed in standard style. I would silently scorn things that seemed out of line or on the periphery. I couldn’t understand why someone would choose something that fluctuated from normal.
Sometimes this is good.
I rarely got into trouble.
Sometimes this is bad.
I never knew who I was. I never could commit to a style, an outlook, a philosophy, a story. (And sometimes that is still true.)
And often an intense restlessness surfaces, a persistent need to scratch at the neat and tidy edges of the mainstream for something more. Throughout the years, in desperate attempts to calm these maddening and shifty-eyed moments, I found something to change. And quickly. A new pair of shoes (on a simple level). A new job (on a very complicated level). I haven’t been able to target the source of this restlessness exactly until a few weeks ago when I read this amazing post from my good friend Melissa (excerpted here):
We’re all writing our stories every day. We’re all living our stories every day.
But sometimes… something happens along the way. We grow up, we get busy, and then we look around one day and find that the story we’re living doesn’t match the story in our hearts.
We aren’t living our story. We’re living someone else’s story, we’re living the culture’s default story, we’re living a generic story with fill-in-the-blank details.
Maybe you’re not sure what your story is anymore. That’s okay. Slow down. Listen for the still small voice in your heart. It’s whispering the way back.
My heart sank and my stomach bottomed as her words sliced through the static and left me feeling desperately sad but at the same time incredibly hopeful.
I realized that for most of my life I’ve defaulted. To what’s easy. To what’s popular. To a fill in the blank, generic existence. Understanding this, the restlessness, the constant and overwhelming need to change things, but not knowing how or why- these hazy edges have finally come into sharp focus.
Sad, but hopeful.
I’m hanging on to hopeful.
So when we had dinner plans recently with a few other couples, stress creeped in: about beer. I knew several of our friends were quite knowledgeable about craft beer. And my go-to is a Blue Moon with an orange. It’s normal; it’s popular. I like it.
Why chance to change?
It’s just beer, my friend jokingly told me in the midst of my fretting.
And it is just beer. But it is so much more than that, too. For me Blue Moon was the default story. It was the generic, fill in the blank choice. I like it, and there is nothing wrong with that, but to never open to other choices and experiences, to never see if just maybe there was something better, well, that’s the default.
Default choices are where life becomes thin, flat, and monotone. In the residual of those choices is where I find myself existing but not living. Breathing but not breathing in. It rises out of fear, out of laziness, out of an inability to pinpoint the source of the restlessness.
I’m learning that breaking out of the default storyline requires more than new shoes, a new job, or even a new beer. It is intentional living and a quiet ear towards the whisperings of the heart. When restlessness surfaces, I realize now that it is my heart’s song: an urgent call to return to my own story that can be variegated and colorful and layered with choices that reflect its song. Not the default, generic, fill in the blanks choices, but my choices.
My heart is hanging on to hopeful.
This is part of a link-up I’m hosting. Do you have your own story? Link up here!