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I like to hide behind words. But hidden beyond quotes and my excessive ramblings, know this:

I am done.

I. Am. So. Done.

Being an avid reader (perhaps sometimes too ambitious—there are currently at least 10 half-read books taking up residence on my Kindle alone), I am quite familiar with the various components that comprise a great story: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Reflecting on my life thus far, I have accumulated many such storiesstories that take place in strange lands, full of hardships, struggles, and victories…stories of hard lessons learned…stories that have caused people to exclaim how “interesting” and how _______ I am (fill in your adjective of choice). However, as much as I hate to admit it, I am done with simply accumulating tales of adventure, or stories.

I have spent most of my life beginning and ending various stories without fully committing to any of them. Rather than “connecting the dots” between the tales that together sum up my life, I have kept them in separate compartments. To have one continuous “collection” would require (at least on some level) putting down roots and becoming attached, perhaps even becoming dependent (dependent!) on someone or something. And you have to admit—volunteering and investing in my local community for the summer doesn’t sound nearly as interesting as traveling to Asia to help rural villagers enact a food sovereignty program…it just doesn’t.

See—I’m a runner…maybe even a sprinter (unfortunately, at this time, only in the metaphoric sense). Unsatisfied with the idea of living a bland or vacuous existence, I tell myself that I need to experience more of life. I tell myself I was made to seek…to explore…to uncover; living an average life is simply unacceptable to me. I convince myself that by constantly moving and experiencing new things, I will eventually find my niche…my people…my identity. I convince myself that I will finally be something (sounds a bit like pride, hiding beneath cleverly cloaked rationalization [really, low self-esteem in disguise] and fear of commitment).

However, I have finally come to the realization that the stories I have carefully outlined and strung together will never be enough—they will never, ever, make me something. This past year, I learned that the “best” stories happen in the space between my carefully planned words. My constant interaction with people from various backgrounds taught me that the seemingly mundane moments (such as washing huge sinks full of dirty dishes with others, making small-talk over dinner, and even hanging out with rambunctious kids [yes, kids]), make the greatest stories. How can this be? Because these are the stories I did not write alone. Perhaps, rather than a mere accumulation of stories, my “collection” should include contributions from others and be an anthology.

* * * * * * * *

For so long, I have felt valuable…worthy…even “significant,” because I am the enigma. I am the mystery…you know — the one people know of, but the one that few, if any, truly know. I am the one who is “quiet”…the one who is a “good listener”…the one who “laughs a lot” (even occasionally at inappropriate times)…the one who is relentlessly “stubborn and independent.” Nevertheless, mystery is fleeting, and I am really, really tired of running (if anything, I would much prefer to swim away rather than run). I am tired of continually forcing others to chase me as I try to run farther ahead, out of sight…and out of reach. I want to slow down. I want to allow others to catch up. I want to actually engage in a conversation…or two…or even three…

I no longer want to run away every chance I get; rather, I want to find something to run to. I want to commit to something. I want to trust that others will still be interested in me, even if I am no longer an impossible puzzle to solve…even if I am just Danica. I want others to not only know the Danica who has struggled for too many years with anxiety and feelings of powerlessness, daily battling a constant stream of negative thoughts. I am also the Danica (who I will probably vehemently deny) who is very human…the one who secretly likes music (and will passionately lip sync to “good” tunes)…the one who misses dancing (before you get too excited, I’m talking about ballet, folks)…the one who hardly minds hugs (just don’t expect me to initiate)…the one who appreciates people more than they could ever know (see—I do have feelings).

I am so done with the Sylvia Plath mentality of

“I don’t care about anyone, and the feeling is quite obviously mutual,”

because That. Is. A. Lie. Not only do I care about others, but I realize that others may actually care about me (as to why, that is still a puzzle). I am done with making people prove they care, only then to question their motives and throw it back in their faces, saying, “try again” (which is pretty judgmental and self-indulgent). I am done waiting for others to tell me “I am enough.” In the past, I questioned the affirmation I received, thinking it purely out of pity, even when it was genuine. But I’ve realized I AM enough.

This is my official resignation from the position of resident enigma.

I pray that I never again step into the role of the mysterious one, a nameless creature—to do so would be ridiculous. I pray that that I am able to continually step out of my comfort zone, and that I stop allowing others to fill the space I was meant to fill.

Overcome by the greatness and glory of God, the medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas was unable to finish his masterpiece, “Summa Theologica.” He writes:

“I can write no more for everything I have written is straw.”

It is time to stop researching, planning, and outlining in hopes of writing yet another cool story to add to my collection. All I have written and all I will write is straw.

It is time to live in the spaces between words. It is time to embrace the ineffable.

That’s it.

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