This past weekend, we made a day trip to Laramie, WY, to watch a Cowboys football game. I was so excited to go to the game, not so much for the game itself, but for the experience of visiting my old stomping grounds. The University of Wyoming is my alma mater, and every time I go back to Laramie, I am flooded with memories of that time of my life. And while not all of my experiences there were amazing, most of what I remember is. There will always be a special place in my heart for Laramie. But when I first got there, I couldn’t have imagined myself feeling that way now.
I went to college alone. None of my friends went there. I had no roommates. I knew no one. I spent most of my first year looking back, wishing for my old life. I wanted to just go back to my comfortable place with my family, friends, familiar school, small town life, and my identity, which I felt I had lost in transition. But I knew I couldn’t. So instead, I tried looking forward. College was just a temporary place for me, anyway. And eventually, I would move on. And maybe that could even mean moving back home. I hung onto that thought.
And then, NOT coincidentally (I don’t believe in coincidences), I went to a church meeting and heard the exact advice I needed to hear. The speaker, speaking to a group of 18-25-year-old students, said, “Whether you are here for a few months or a few years, unpack your bags.” She talked about her own experience of moving to Laramie “temporarily” forty years ago. For over a year, she left everything that wasn’t essential in the boxes in the garage. Why unpack it? She wasn’t going to be here long. And with that attitude, she didn’t make any friends, didn’t get involved in the community, and didn’t really do anything. And then one day, she had a thought: Marie, it’s time to unpack. She did. And then everything changed. Instead of waiting for her future life, she started living her life in the present. She learned, she grew, she changed, she had meaningful experiences, and created deep relationships. She still didn’t know how long she would be there, but she was going to make every day count.
I went home from that meeting with a new understanding: This is my life. My life wasn’t in the past. It wasn’t going to be found in the future. This wasn’t a temporary situation. This was my life. And whether I was there for a few months, or forty years, I was going to stop waiting and start living. And then, amazing things started to happen. I decided to be a true Cowboys fan, and never missed a game. I started meeting more people, and made friends that became more like family. I got involved in my ward at church. I started going to events on campus. Instead of just going to class, I got excited about what I was learning. Soon, I was passing up opportunities to “go back home” because what was happening at my “new home” was just too good to leave. I ended up meeting my husband, getting married, graduating, becoming a mom, and learning, growing, and evolving during my five and a half years in Laramie. And when it was time to move on, I knew how to make the move a little easier. When I got to our new home, I unpacked my bags.
Since then, I have realized that this lesson has application in so many different aspects of life. When I find myself just “getting through” something, I realize that I need to metaphorically unpack my bags. In every stage of life, in every situation, there is something for me. Something I can learn. Somewhere I can serve. But I miss that opportunity when I just wait to get to the other side. And sadly, I have missed many by not being present in my life.
Are you waiting for something to happen before you start to live your life? As soon as I lose weight…Once my kids are older…Once I have more money…When I get married…When my body stops hurting…When my house sells…
While this applies to all aspects of life, it is especially true with learning to love our bodies. We think that once our body changes, then we might be able to love it. We will be free to chase our goals, find success, and be happy once we lose the weight. What if, instead, we started loving our bodies today? What if we started chasing our goals right now? What if we created our own success and decided to choose happiness? We don’t have to wait to get to the other side. We can unpack our bags, start where we are, and start living the lives we are meant to live. Then, and only then, will we find the power to change.
I love the way Brooke Castillo puts it:
“When will you arrive?
At a size 6?
At one million dollars?
When Mr. Right marries you?
When you find your purpose?
Maybe when you arrive,
you will realize
the trip is over…”
Don’t miss the trip.
Love your body, and your body will love you.♥