Six Months of Silence

Let’s just start off by saying that the last six months have been very productive. Maybe not at all with photography, but with bettering myself. I’m not going to lie, the last thing on my mind has been to attempt being on my a-game with any of this. I went from posting consistently on social media and blogging, to dropping off the face of the earth for a month, to sporadic postings, to well, nothing... And even still, I have no motivation to update my Instagram constantly or blog. I went through a phase where I didn’t even want to look at my camera, and that is my true happy place. I’m still not there yet…

I’m not writing this for anyone. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad for me, because really they shouldn’t. Although I don’t sound my happiest thus far, I really am. And that’s pretty awesome.

This year has been a doozy to say the least. I’ve had to learn a lot. I’ve found that sometimes no matter how much good you try to put out into the world, bad stuff is still going to happen. That’s just life, and there’s nothing you can do besides take it as it comes. I was convinced I had bad luck this summer…

I went through a breakup, had my debit card comprised right after moving, dealt with the window of my car breaking during monsoon season (and it took almost a week in the shop because the part that was ordered was broken) in a very short span. I THOUGHT I WAS CURSED FOR SURE.

But guess what, a lot of good has come from this year.

With the money I didn’t spend on planning a wedding, I got LASIK, and it’s been the best decision I have made by far (I totally wanted to cancel the appointment the week of). It has been one of those things I’ve wanted for a while, but I was scared, saving for a something else, and didn’t really think I was deserving of such a thing. I had just accepted that I’ve had to wear glasses for so long, and chose to hide behind them as my identifier. It’s been a total confidence boost, although I still totally miss picking out some sweet specs. More importantly, I’m STILL amazed that I can see!

I’ve gotten to take more trips! Before I felt like I couldn’t do anything without my partner. Going to Joshua Tree with Lara last year felt like a big deal. This year I’ve gotten to visit Northern Arizona a few times, California, and I’m going to Texas next month for work. I get to enjoy things for myself instead of worrying if the other person is having fun the entire time. I have to say, I’ve struggled with this a little bit because I tend to feel like doing ANYTHING for myself is selfish; it’s taken a lot to get over that feeling.

I have been, dare I say #blessed with so many new friendships this year. It amazes me how quickly a friendship can come about when you’re surrounded with genuine people. From sleeping on the couch of someone I barely knew, to having deep conversations, to planning road trips; I am so incredibly grateful to surround myself with these incredible people.

Also, I can eat food that I want and not feel guilty that it wasn’t liked by the other person. If I wanted, I could eat Thai and Indian food every day without complaints. Woot woot!

I’ve learned a few things.

I found out that I should listen to my gut more often. I had doubts about my relationship about this time last year and just pushed it down. I told myself I was having wedding jitters and the stress of planning was the problem. It wasn’t. We were living two very separate lives and tried to make it work for so long. There was no doubt that we loved one another, but we both struggled with doubts.

Nothing is permanent. This one is funny to me because a few years before when I was talking to my best friend Markie about my life, she said the military has taught her that nothing is permanent. At the time I thought this was SO pessimistic; while life is ever-changing, some things stick around. Now I see this completely different. It’s not pessimistic per se, it’s realistic. I see this now as going with the flow. Your friends come and go, your living situations change, but you always have yourself. This isn’t a “don’t depend on anyone ever again” thing. This is more of a “the hiccups in your day aren’t going to affect you long term, so don’t worry so much” thing.

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Just because you’re going into your late twenties doesn’t mean you should have it figured out. This was probably the hardest thing for me to get over. I thought by twenty-five I should have everything locked down, and I pretty much did. I was engaged, had a dog, a car, plans for the future, etc. We even had baby names planned out for when the day came. I never really thought that I wanted marriage or kids, but if it was the right person, maybe. I hit that magical age thinking that everything needs to fall into place now, so when I was proposed to, of course I said yes (although a friend will tell you a few months earlier I said I didn’t think of myself being the type of person who gets married). I was settling and I WANTED to settle. I look back at this and just want to tell myself that you don’t have to make any big moves right now. It’s ok to not have everything figured out. People hardly ever do, and sometimes they’re twice your age.

No matter how bad things get, you have the option to come out on top, but you have to choose it. I’m a huge believer in self-fulfilling prophecy (and placebo effects). You can handle anything if you have the right mindset. The first month post-breakup felt like an out of body experience. I was so graceful and nice because I cared for this person. Even in my fits of anger, I still found a way to wish them the best and even pack their stuff. Looking back, I have no idea how I handled things so well… I think a lot of it had to do with good people talking me down when I wanted to be mean. But a huge part of it was because I was taught to be kind (even if sometimes, it’s to a fault).

Admittedly, most of these lessons have scared me. I thought for a bit while talking through this with my therapist, family, and friends that I was emotionally damaged. I was under the impression that the lack of permanence was a problem instead of seeing it as going with the flow.

As silly as it sounds, I’m so happy shit hit the fan this year. I grew so much. I learned how to communicate, say no (still hard, but I’m better than I was at it), and that self-care isn’t selfish. I can’t wait to see where 2019 takes me! Psst, it’s starting off on the right foot with a badass on the road workshop!

-XO, ShelbyBell