There is a quote by May Sarton, “[we who are] willing to give ourselves away, such people rarely lead happy lives. But they do live lives of constant growth and change.”
That hit me hard.
I was on a walk, listening to her book when it smacked me first in my gut then in my heart and then my head began to throb.
I have given myself away a lot. I have been unhappy a lot.
And it is also true that I have lived a life of constant growth and change. Mostly against my will, I might add.
It is such an interesting juxtaposition of ideas:
Giving yourself away to others (putting their needs first) causes great unhappiness in your own life.
But doing this giving away, makes you constantly grow and change as your patterns of conduct reveal themselves and show you where you are responsible for your own misery.
I wondered as I walked, is the reverse also true?
If you hold yourself to yourself in a tighter spiral, are you happier but experience less growth and change?
I really do not know the answer to that one because I have spent the whole of my life giving myself away, breaking me off and down into bite sized morsels to make myself seem more palatable to everyone. Holding back those parts of myself I think you will not enjoy or like or might despise.
But I think that perhaps happiness does come from some ability to hold your own, for yourself. The ability to say no to others’ requests of you, and their demands. To have this locus of control that centers in you, about you and for you. You give to others but not if it causes you to be derailed or have your goals, aspirations and dreams pushed aside.
This whole holding myself for myself has not been my lot in life. And perhaps that has resulted in a fair amount of unhappiness.
My purpose in this life has been more of the constant growth and change kind. I have given myself away so often that I spend an inordinate amount of time gathering up all my pieces of myself and putting them back in place. I shed myself all over the place and then have to collect myself repeatedly. And I can state emphatically that does cause a fairly great amount of unhappiness. And so it would appear a penchant for growth and change. I seem to have a lot of both of those.
And my conclusion? Perhaps it doesn’t really matter. You just get what you get. You are either holding yourself back for your own access and the pay off for that is a great deal of happiness or you are giving yourself away all the time which sows the seeds of discontent, but forces you to push through all of that and do work that causes great change and growth, most often, inspite of yourself.
Either way, it is your journey with yourself. I think a lot can be said for either manner of existence. Happiness is great but so are the ability to grow and change. What is fascinating to me is the idea that the trajectory you follow is really dependent on being able to hold yourself back from all that giving away of you. That you give, sure, but you hold enough of you for yourself, and when you do this, happiness is the natural outcome.
This is something I wish I would have known some time ago…perhaps I could have lead a life of happiness instead of growth and change. Who knows! But what I am really digging right now is that it would appear it is never too late to begin. If happiness is the result of holding back enough of yourself for yourself that isn’t something that requires a one time decision some long ago time, nope, you can just begin to do it now. And perhaps, just maybe, if you do that while also being able to reflect of the lifetime before that you were unable to hold back enough of you for you, then you can have both. Happiness in the moment while also continuing to grow and change.
As I wrote these words, I realized it is true. My long past where I gave away parts of myself I desperately needed for myself, caused a great deal of growth and change. And that growth and change has turned me into a person who can hold back enough of me now so that I am happier. Very fucking rad.