November 12, 2020

The Best Way to get through Hard, Painful, Challenging Times.

Natalie Pulvino

A familiar yet ever-evolving lump was lodging itself into my throat this morning.

I had a heavy heart. I know now not to reject these feelings or try to ignore them. These are my growing pains. I try to understand them.

I moved to Los Angeles last January on a gut feeling. I didn’t even think that I would particularly like L.A., I just knew in my soul that I needed to be here.

I resisted this fact for years before gaining the courage to leave everything I had built for myself in Colorado to move even further west from the rest of my family and loved ones. I had no job, no understanding of the city, and zero direction.

I landed heavily in my west side apartment unemployed, not knowing anyone, and fresh out of a heart-wrenching breakup.

I was raw and vulnerable, and quite frankly, astounded and confused that I would choose to give up my beautiful, comfortable life in Boulder, Colorado to move to Los Angeles.

I can’t tell you how many people cocked their heads and said, “Wait, you just moved here, from Boulder? Why?” “Why” was a good question. It’s a question I still find myself asking on the learning days. Like today.

This year has been hard. This year has been harder for many, and I sit on a cushioned pillow of privilege and grace while many people in this nation suffer quietly every day. But for me, as an individual human woman, this year has been hard. I have grown and changed in ways I didn’t know were possible. I have discovered aspects of myself I didn’t know existed. I have had the great honor and heartache of grueling honesty, both with myself and others, and I have studied my mind like never before.

I’ve studied my mind enough now to know that it plays tricks on me. So when I get hit with a wave of grief, or a longing for a life left behind, I try to zoom way out, not to get out of the pain or discomfort that I’m sitting in, but to understand it better.

Understanding my emotions gives me context for my feelings and allows me to foster deeper compassion for myself and, therefore, for other beings.

As I was driving to a writing spot this morning, I began talking to myself out loud, trying to make sense of this thickening feeling in my chest and throat.

What kept swimming through my mind was, “Why did I leave? What was I seeking? What am I seeking? Why doesn’t my life here and now feel like the thing I was seeking that I can’t quite describe? Is it wrong that it doesn’t feel like it yet? Does that mean this was all a big mistake?”

No. It means that I’m in my young 20s just trying to make my way through this increasingly complex reality of a world. It’s not about finding the place or the one or the job or the thing. It’s just about exploring everything—all of the things, all of the ones.

I wish to live my life in full spectrum. What I’m seeking is the full breadth of the human experience. What I’m seeking is growth. What I’m seeking is learning and unlearning.

It is myself, my soul, my purpose, my knowing, my aching. And I don’t think you find that by staying in the comfortable town with the safe relationship. I think you find that by choosing to leave even when nothing is wrong, but something isn’t quite right. You find that by purposefully and intentionally positioning yourself in an uncomfortable environment so that you are forced to strap up and grow.

I believe that one day, my restlessness will subside. My constant questioning if I’m in the right place or with the right person or working in the right job will diminish slowly as I chip away at the armor I’ve built for myself. That which covers up the knowing that will inevitably lead me to these things, places, and people.

So I zoom out and I see that, and then I zoom back in and I see this: I am at a challenging point in my life. Nothing is clear, and nothing is certain. Nothing is easy, but there is a lot of joy. Everything is hard, but a lot of it is hard in the best, most beautiful ways.

L.A. doesn’t quite feel like home, but when I take it off the pedestal, I see that Boulder wasn’t quite home either. I see that I may not feel like I’m home for quite some time because really, my journey within only just began.

And I’m comfortable living within that discomfort.


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