When the marine layer clears, everything is so much sunnier.

San Diego sunset

Week before last, I headed out to San Diego to visit my parents for the first time since they moved there in January. It was my first time to California, the first time I would see my family without Harrison (McGee sure gave me a lot of love to make up for it), and the first time I ran on a beach.

It was also a week in which I thought about the last year, where I’m headed, and what’s holding me back. With a little help from my parents, especially my dad, I realized I still get so stuck on trying to be what I perceive everyone wants me to be, I still worry about saying the right thing, doing the right, and making the “right” choices. A year ago, I made the choice to break up with a wonderful guy, who remains my friend. I made the choice to never let a friend who never actually was a really good friend treat me that way again. And recently, I changed jobs, making a career choice that worked for me, not for my coworkers.

But in the everyday moments, I still hold back; I still get fearful. What will they think if I do that? I ask myself. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they’re just saying that or doing that to be nice? And yes, I question sometimes if people would even notice if I’m not around…a blip on the radar perhaps.

It’s exhausting to constantly worry if people like you, love you, if you’re making the choices they would make, to wonder what they’re thinking, to wonder what they want. In the end, as I was reminded, it’s about me. Say what you need to say, feel how you feel. And maybe everyone won’t agree with you. Maybe they’ll get mad or yell or cry, maybe they won’t want to do you a favor, maybe they’ll ignore you. And that’s okay. But you could be surprised by the reaction.

In the mornings in Encinitas, the marine layer would keep the sky overcast and cool. As I ran on the beach one morning, when only the surfers were out, and a handful of people walking with their coffee, I watched the waves roll in, the seaweed washing onto the sand. I watched as within minutes shadows of people who once were hidden behind the mist and fog became visible as the sun slowly started to break through. The marine layer was clearing, and so was my mind, and my heart.

I left the West Coast with a sense of renewed authenticity, and a desire to be the person that I am, without letting all the stresses of wondering what other people think get to me and add anxiety to my life. I arrived on the East Coast rejuvenated, ready to tackle my new job, eager to do away with the negative influences and people in my life, determined to call who I want, when I want, and ask for what I need when I need it. The outcome may not always be what I want, but at least I can be content with being myself.

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