It’s been one of those years.
One of those years when life goes from, “Oh my God, how did I get so lucky?” to “What the actual f*ck?” and back again so many times I begin to lose count.
One of those years when love comes and goes, when happiness falls away to sadness in an instant.
One of those years when we are left questioning our choices, even the ones we were once so sure about.
One of those years when where we started and where we ended up make both no sense and all the sense in the world.
I began this year on shaky ground. I wasn’t quite sure what direction my life was headed. I was still healing from heartbreak, figuring out where I fit professionally and in a constant state of unrest.
I had lost friends. I had taken on a schedule I knew wasn’t sustainable long-term. I knew I needed a plan, but the idea of creating one felt more like pressure and less like preparation.
And yet months later, I’m standing in a life that feels true(r) to who I am.
How did I get here?
In a word—sadness.
There were days when I woke up and my first thought was, “Not again.” Not another day of wanting to cry, of wishing my life looked different, of missing people who were gone, of wondering when the right person would show up, of feeling like everyone’s life was moving forward while I was still running in circles.
But instead of stuffing those feelings down, instead of burying them in shame, I faced them.
I let myself cry. I let myself make crappy decisions. I let myself sit and drink tea and write and eat too much pizza and complain to my friends and not engage with anyone when I wasn’t feeling it.
I let myself get lost and be found.
I let myself fall into sadness, so I could rise to something better.
I decided I could be sad about the people who were no longer in my life and still let new people in. I decided I could feel uncomfortable and exposed professionally and still kick ass at my job. I decided I could feel completely unprepared for this stage in my life and live it anyway.
In the past few weeks I’ve found myself gravitating toward three songs that both pull me into the depths of my own sadness, while leaving me feeling hopeful about whatever comes next.
I’ve fallen in love with this song numerous times in my life, but something in it hit my soul after reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior this year. She references this line—one I had sang for years, but never really let in:
“I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch, and love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.”
Love, and loving, is not always full of pretty and happy and romance. Love is also sad and lonely and hard and overwhelming. And that’s okay. Because after you’ve cycled through the good and the bad, you get to do it all over again, maybe with the same person or maybe with someone new.
This song, from The Hamilton Mixtape, explores what it feels like to lose a child. I’m not a parent, but I know loss—we all do. The feeling of emptiness that seeps into our pores when someone we love is no longer there. The ache that somehow becomes a silent part of everything we do.
“There are moments that the words don’t reach, there’s a grace too powerful to name. We push away what we can never understand; we push away the unimaginable.”
Listening to this song reminds me to stop pushing away those feelings, the ones that hurt. Instead I breath into them, accept them, sing them out until they no longer scare me.
We’ve all pleaded with someone or something to love us, to let us in—even if we’ve never said the words out loud. We want to belong, we want to be wanted, we want our feelings reciprocated. Whether it’s in romantic relationships, friendships, family or professional connections, we want to know we’re worth it.
“All that we need is a rude awakening to know we’re good enough.”
For me, that rude awakening came from losing the life I thought I wanted, from losing the future I had dreamt of. It came from sadness.
And since we can’t avoid sadness (or the new beginnings that follow) for too long, I will gladly take mine with a sick dance beat and the opportunity to shake my ass.
Author: Nicole Cameron