What does it mean to let go?

Comment on this piece, email me, send me a text of your response, or leave your thoughts in the Facebook/Twitter comments. Go ahead, take a minute or two. Really think about it.

It’s up to your interpretation. It can be physical or emotional, spiritual or mental, or all of the above; “letting go” is a broad prompt. I realize that. But it’s something I’ve always explored and I want to know what you think.

“Consider becoming the type of energy that no matter where you go, or where you are, you always add value to the spaces and the lives of those around you.” -Anonymous

I’ve thought about this quote for the past couple of years as I’ve moved away from home and started to build a legacy with the work that I’m doing. I’ve thought about it a little bit extra this month as I’m wrapping up my time in graduate school and have been reflecting on the journey.

Some of my favorite moments spent in Akron, Ohio have come on the hardest days: the day that hundreds of people were laid off on campus; the day that my heart kept breaking for students who just want to belong but still haven’t figured out how; the days that I’ve realized I’m wrong, that I still have a long journey ahead and I don’t know as much as I think I do; the day that I moved to Ohio nearly two years ago and realized the vulnerability of my alone-ness, and so on.

These moments have a common denominator: growth. I’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel of some of these moments to find the transformation. Sometimes, for a couple of moments stitched together, we have to really struggle in order to realize who we are, what we’re made of, and what we’re meant to be doing with our lives.

These are moments that I am letting go of. I’m accepting them as they are today, both on the surface and even deeper. They have allowed me to become who I am constantly becoming. I imagine each moment will continue to have an impact, positive or negative, on who I am. Regardless of which, I hope that I’ll always have the courage to accept it and move forward, for better or worse.

It’s not always immediately after an experience that we’re able to draw something that is beneficial to our wellbeing. A healthy amount of reflecting will bring it in enough time. It can take months — years — to truly realize how much a certain struggle has forced you to spill a little bit of yourself but to gain so much more in return.

I often overlook how important it is to stop trying to make myself fit into a group of people or a certain set of beliefs because someone else wants me to. I’m a square block in a sometimes very big, dark, round opening and I’m not always carrying a flashlight. I’ve tried for too long to shape-shift into something as large and as heavy as the room I’m in; I always end up feeling exhausted and out of magic.

Even more, I’ve forgotten to exercise one of the values that I’ve looked to guide me in my growing moments, the mantra:

“Taking time for personal peace is not wasted time.”

Writing and reading. I haven’t done nearly enough of it. I’ve carved out time here and there but not enough to call myself a writer. But I’ll let it go.

Reflecting. I haven’t practiced taking a moment to myself to look at the bigger picture, to meditate, to heal. As a result, I’ve done more harm than good. But I’ll let it go.

Listening. My heart is always pulling me in a few different directions. I haven’t given myself the time to listen to it. I’ve gone down paths that I truly wasn’t passionate about and I’ve spent an unbelievable amount of time giving attention to people who don’t encourage, challenge, uplift, or support me. But I’ll let it go.

Being as present as possible. It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten what it means to focus on what’s right in front of me. Most of the time I’m thinking about what’s going to happen next — meetings, events, an empty space in my always-evolving calendar— and I forget about being wholeheartedly where my feet are. But I’ll let it go.

People. I’ve neglected some of the most important people in my life and haven’t put much effort into maintaining old relationships. Pieces of my heart live in corners of the country and are still waiting for a text back. But I’ll let it go.

I must let it go.

Being kind to myself means accepting that I’ve failed more times than not and still resolve to move forward. It means taking responsibility for my shortcomings and making a better effort to improve.

As far as my time in Akron, there is much still left to do. I’ve experienced joy and heartache and excitement and whatever the feeling is when you wake up and can’t wait until the end of the day comes is (is there a word for it?).

But for now, I must pack up my belongings, get into my car, and drive to someplace new. Feeling what I feel in this moment is important. I must plant myself and start an exciting journey. I know that when December rolls around, I’ll be thankful for the adventure.

Moving forward, I’ll focus on seeing the world as it is, not as I’d like it to be in this moment.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

And let it go.

Buddy Wakefield
wrote this poem about Orlando and I vibe with it.

Here are a few snapshots of what’s been going on in my life in the last month. Enjoy.

Spent some time in Georgia with my best friend and his family. Was able to see how beautiful of a state it really is.
Something about flying above the clouds and lights puts things into perspective. I realize how truly small and insignificant we can really be in the grand scheme of life. There are things bigger than us that we may or may not see.
Akron will always be home.
A look forward.

In June, I will focus on change.

In a handful of days, I’ll be moving to Muncie, Indiana to start my professional career at Ball State University where I’ll be working as a Residence Hall Director. Much like my journey these last two years, I’ll be able to work with students in a capacity that allows me to make an impact on their journey. It’s an opportunity that I’m grateful to have and I’m looking forward to the months to come.

Inevitably, though, there will be change. My sphere of understanding will widen. I’ll be s t r e t c h i n g as I learn new names and street signs, new favorite restaurants and places on campus to reflect, new coffeeshops and offices and meetings to attend. New, new, new, at least to me. It’s a transition that nobody can really prepare me for. I’ll learn more about myself than I ever have before and have the chance to help others do the same.

It’s all heavy and big and exciting, but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t anxious or afraid. There’s a certain vulnerability that comes with moving away from all that you know and entering what feels like a completely different world.

Here goes nothing (everything).

Part six of a monthly series on observing the human experience in all of us. Every month, I’ll reflect on the past, observe the present, and cast a vision for the future with a word that guides me in all that I do. Here are past months:

January: Build
February: Feel
March: Listen
April: Express
May: Let go

My Project Wednesday article that inspired this small project, published January 6, 2016, can be found here.

Published by Robbie Williford

Writer from Flint, Michigan. Partial but slowly becoming. Educator. Storyteller. Bashful. Paying attention to the quiet.

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