Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Elise Meets World


Alternate post title: IDK, my BFF Riley?

I've been watching a lot of Girl Meets World lately. It's my go-to doodle/lunch break/etc. show. I started out watching it and just missing Boy Meets World, but now I kind of love it. Because deep inside I might still have some very 13 year old girl like tendencies. (Although I have grown out of Beiber Fever.)

I'm not sure I'm the same person as Riley, but it's kind of like she just gets me. She likes cats more than I do and I'd like to think my finger painting skills are much better than hers. But really, this character they've created is a great balance of Corey and Topanga and maybe a lot of us who are just trying to figure out life in this world.

One day while watching, this conversation happened with Riley's best friend, Maya:




So, naturally I screenshotted it and tweeted it because that right there is a brief summary of much of my life in one small moment on a children's television show.

I'm a fixer. I don't like seeing my friends sad, I don't like knowing that someone in my family is having a hard time, I don't like reading articles about abuse or rape or anything along those lines because it hurts my heart that so many things are hard and sad and that so many people are in pain. And when I do know about those things, I want to fix them. I want to come up with the perfect dose of optimism to "make things okay". I want to present the solution that helps people overcome the trials they're going through or at least feel better about them. And I want to beat up every rude, hurtful, mean, abusive, etc. person in this world and make them stop doing all the bad things.

Perhaps that's a nice sentiment - wanting to fix things... but I can't. I can't fix everything. Thanks to Maya, my husband, and real life for that wakeup call. It was hard to admit. It's still not my favorite truth. But it's real.

I have a tendency to be a chronic worrier. It's like my mind believes that if I keep thinking about a situation I don't like and I brainstorm every possible solution until I've made myself sick that somehow I'm helping. But if I've learned anything in my life recently, it's this: worrying is not helping. I'm not sure what it is, but it's not helping. Yet, it's so hard to let go of. I often feel a terrible shame for not worrying about something or someone. So, then I bounce back and forth between the worry and shame only to find that I've still done nothing but make myself sick.

Recently, I learned about a tough challenge my friend is going through - one that particularly hurt my heart. But as I started to worry and overthink and dwell on the sadness I felt, I realized that a lot of the pain I was feeling was more a feeling of "What if that happens to me someday?" Which initially made me feel selfish. Here was my friend, sharing her challenge and the sorrow I felt was all about what if I have to feel that same pain someday too? As I've thought about it and talked to Matt, I think I've decided that maybe it's not entirely selfish and maybe that's how we find compassion for others when they're going through things we don't understand. We connect that "what if" to feelings we have felt before and somehow get a small glimpse of what it might be like to feel similar pain and sorrow. Which, if we let it, could be the start of compassion and empathy.

I'm not sure if the right answer to "how to stop worrying and let go of your unrealistic need to fix everyone's lives" is compassion or empathy or what. But I do know that compassion and empathy are always rooted in love. And I also know that love is a pretty good healing balm for pain.

Riley learns an important life lesson in each episode of Girl Meets World. I realize that life isn't like a TV show, but the more I "grow up" the more I feel like I'm continuously "meeting the world" and learning that there's much more to the world around me than my little world I've created for myself. For now, for this "episode" of my life, I'm focusing on love. Real, charitable love. Not worry or fixing, but helping and caring.
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