At first, it was exhilarating, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Learning about energy and the subconscious mind fascinated me in a way that nothing else ever had. I wanted to attain this transcendent state that I was reading about, and I committed myself to a spiritual path.
After a while, though, it stopped feeling fun, and it just started feeling like an awful lot of work. I was on a constant quest to fix myself, and not only did it feel endless, but it also wasn’t making me very happy. I devoted hours upon hours to analyzing my birth chart, my past lives, my subconscious beliefs, and on and on in some vain attempt to be a better, happier person.
I’m not saying this to bash all of the amazing spiritual books I read over the years. These books truly helped me change my life. They taught me about the most amazing concepts from the most powerful spiritual teachers. They opened my eyes to a new way of living.
The only problem was that I got stuck. I got stuck in the studying phase and felt too scared to go out into the world and just live. I got stuck on the idea that there was something wrong with me, and I convinced myself that these books and resources and spiritual practices were the only things that could help me figure out my life. I forgot how to think for and trust myself, and I relied on these books to tell me how to live.
One day, I found myself exhausted and crying on my bedroom floor thinking, If I have to do one more self-help exercise, I am going to scream. I was so tired of fighting so hard for a better life and seeing no results. I was sick of treating myself like a project, and I knew it needed to stop.
Slowly, I started letting go of my elaborate spiritual practices and began allowing myself to just chill out and enjoy life. I prioritized happiness, and I began to think about what fun actually meant to me. I began asking myself how I truly wanted to live my life. Turns out it’s not by getting up at 4 a.m. to chant in Sanskrit for an hour. Go figure.
I realized that actually I love foods that contain gluten and drinks that make me tipsy. I remembered how fun it can be to get dressed up and go out to a bar and how freeing it is to lie in bed and binge-watch your favorite show, guilt-free.
I’d been so scared that if I let myself enjoy the things I liked, I’d become a total mess. I’d be this latte-guzzling, junk-food-eating slob with no ambition. I felt like the only thing keeping me clear and healthy were my rules.
What I’ve learned is that I love being healthy—doing Pilates and drinking herbal tea and smoothies really does make me happy. But so do nights out, makeup, Netflix, and vodka sodas.
I read this Courtney Walsh poem once, and it blew my mind.