Looking Forward: Letting Go

I was seventeen-years-old when I decided that miracles were real. A senior in high school and knee-deep in anxiety over college, boys, fitting in, moving out (just about everything, really), I’d grown accustomed to spending many nights, hands clasped, sending silent prayers to a nameless god: “Please let me get in to my first-choice college. Please let the cute boy in math class—the one who’s never even looked my way—notice me. Please let me be more confident in class. Please let the fact that I’m graduating and moving away be a dream I can wake up from.”

(Let me pause here to say how embarrassing this last bit was to write—did I really lose sleep over these sorts of things?)

Anyway, one night, mid-worry and seemingly out of the blue, it hit me. Why was I afraid? My life was full of  so many incredible things—love, luck, friendship, opportunities—why start worrying now? It seemed so clear. I needed to loosen up. Let go. Trust. I’d spent so much time worrying about  changing my circumstances that I’d almost completely forgotten to relax and enjoy my life. Worrying was tiring, not to mention time-consuming. How many hours could have been saved if I’d only thought to let go?

And here’s where the part about miracles comes in. Almost immediately after coming to this realization, I noticed my life change. It was like magic. Suddenly, everything seemed oddly, suspiciously effortless. Things were falling into place and I wasn’t even trying. My favorite teacher, to whom I dreaded saying goodbye, offered to teach an independent study for me the following semester. In an uncharacteristic stroke of bravery (I was painfully shy in high school), I mustered the confidence to sign up to be in the school play—and had the time of my life. The cute boy—the one I thought had never looked my way—asked me to prom. All of this happening at once seemed nothing short of miraculous. I was baffled. But I was also happier because I was worrying less. I was sleeping better. In so many wonderful and meaningful ways, I was free.

(I didn’t, however, get in to Berkeley, my first-choice college. Devastated, I showed up at UC Santa Cruz in the fall, determined to hate it. Instead, I fell in love with it, and to this day, regard the four years I spent there as some of the happiest and most fulfilling of my life. It was an important lesson: not everything was going to work out the way I wanted. But maybe that was for the best. Maybe I’d be pleasantly surprised. Maybe, years later, I’d look back and know that things worked out the way they did for a reason.)

Now, at twenty-six, I’m still often reminding myself to let go. When anxiety hits—what’s next for me? what am I doing with my life? why aren’t I further along in my career?—I take a deep breath, and remember:

My best is all I can do. I’m going to worry only about things I can—and want to—control. I trust that as long as I can stay happy, positive, and open-minded, I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be okay because I’ve always been okay. 

And I’ve always been okay because, well—who knows? I’m not the one in the control.

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