By Heather Macon
Two weeks before my 30th birthday, I bought a one-way ticket to Philadelphia.
When I first moved to Atlanta in 2019, I immediately saw myself being rooted for a while. With my explorative mind, courageous spirit, and constant need to experience, that thought scared me.
However, this was a chapter in my life I desperately needed. I needed to experience some severe growing pains that allowed my bones to break and my comfortability to be shifted. The shedding and transformation that occurred during this chapter in my life have t sprung me forward into what I am anticipating to be transformative for the better.
Within these two years and half years, I’ve addressed my challenges with anxiety, depression, and C-PTSD. I began trauma-informed work with a specialized therapist, a Black woman who has assisted me on this journey of healing, clarity, and self-discovery. She has seen me for who I am, who I’m growing to be, and overall, our sessions have been a place of reconciling and truth, uncomfortable growth.
When I decided to leave my doctoral program, I didn’t know what my next steps were. I’ve been in school on-going for years, and all I knew was work and school. I didn’t have a speech prepared when someone asked when I’d be finished with my degree; I wasn’t fully ready to accept the fact that I had given up my one sought-after dream.
What’s next, I thought? I didn’t have the slightest clue, but I did know what I wanted to feel and experience. I wanted to share a life with joy, passion, and laughter. I wanted to devote my time and energy to things that would come naturally and allow me room to breathe.
We don’t have possession over anyone or anything. I had to be comfortable with letting go.
I was in a period in my life where I was surrounded by others who only saw my value in what it was that I could contribute. That ultimately left me feeling drained, with little for myself. Heather didn’t even know who she was anymore. Being in that space left me feeling empty, depleted and my depression grew. My way of thinking was skewed, I settled in multiple aspects of my life, and that layer of childhood trauma continued to pay me visits; this idea of being everything to everyone.
For a long time, I was catering to people in my life that didn’t place the same amount of value on what I deemed to be necessary. During this period in my life, I learned quite a bit about the importance of reciprocation in relationships, friendships, and work deals. I continued to understand the importance of putting myself first in what I choose to accept and devote energy.
Anyone can read this and probably think it’s easier said than done. My conversations began to change, my tolerance for disrespect has been at zero; I don’t people please entirely as much as I use to keep peace in my relationships. Choosing yourself comes with this ability to take that inner core work and love, allow it to shine on the outside, and navigate authentically.
This fall, I will be pursuing my MFA full-time, taking the steps necessary to entirely be dedicated to my writing career and overall replenishing myself. I am blessed beyond measure for those in my life who have allowed me to be who I was in that season and extended grace for me to shift and adjust as needed.
What matters to me most during this time in my life is my inner peace. I’m striving to be in a place where I experience both joy and peace in the same setting. I am no longer compromising who I am to hang on to situations, individuals, or experiences that no longer align with my growth.
I am gracefully choosing myself.
Heather Macon is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Heather is a creative who enjoys art in all forms. You can follow her on Twitter @HJanaii.