For the longest time, the phrase I heard the most growing up is “Sarah, you are not the center of the universe.” I am sure every teenager has heard a similar phrase. Young people are selfish, self-centered, and believe the world revolves around them. I remember my retorts as well – ‘I can’t help how I feel!’ or ‘but this isn’t about me. Not really.’
Now as an adult navigating the world, I often find myself sitting and reflecting on what my center is. What is the center of my universe if not myself? I do not have children as of yet and I was raised with a very strong virtue that I never let a man, regardless of my love for him, be the center of my universe. My mother, god bless her, has a very strong conviction and belief that not everything works out the way we hope it will. This is a result of a lifetime of health problems. This is the result of her own relationships gone awry. This is the result of being a single mother of an adopted and challenging daughter.
So I sit here and ruminate – if not myself and not my lover, what is the center of my universe? Perhaps that’s not the correct question. Maybe it should be phrased, what is my center? Or perhaps, what centers me? All three of those questions are asking the same thing, but I would give very different answers for each one.
What is the center of my universe? My livelihood. My ability to be a strong and independent woman. My prove-them-all-wrong-attitude. I have an incredible family who I would not change for the whole world, but I have always been acutely aware that if not for a lot of fierce fighting, advocating, and circumstantial luck at the expense of innocence, I would be in a very different place. I was not supposed to graduate high school. I was not supposed to go to college. I should not be a successful young woman or own my home. All of these things were achieved with a prove-them-all-wrong-attitude, love, support, and bluntly, stubbornness. Without these things, my universe would crumble. I would still be that small child hiding in the closet from monsters. I would still be that bullied teenage girl crying in the bathroom before band class. I would still be that young college victim, dropping out of college. My livelihood is at the center of my universe, and it defines everything I do.
What is my center? When I close my eyes and think about this question, the word rock forms. That word then defines the question. What is my rock? My mother, B, my home, my job, my grandparents, joy, theater, creativity, reading, writing, painting, cleaning. All these things are tangible, a person or a thing I hold onto. When these things shift or become questionable, I begin to question myself. I begin to doubt. I begin to swim through a sea of all the could-have-been’s, or should-have-done’s, or ‘why-did-this-happen?’ When I begin to feel like I am starting to drown, I can find my rocks to grasp on to. I read, and allow myself to enter a different space or world. I write, to get down everything sifting and swirling around my brain. I use creativity as if wielding a magic wand, and it makes me feel powerful. I sink deep into my lover’s arms and envelop myself, or I call my mom and grandparents for comfort. Creativity and family are my center.
What centers me? Again, it seems repetitive, but this question still requires a different answer than those above. What centers me is love and passion. My love for others, love I receive, love for life. Passion is what drives me. Love makes me feel grounded, so much so that I have tattooed it onto my ankle so I can always be reminded of love’s solidarity. A line connecting two points within the heart reminds me that I will always be connected to those I have loved, those I do love, those I will love. Love connects me to everything I do. It centers me in a way nothing else can.
All this time, mom was right. I am not the center of the universe. However, being aware of want centers within my own universe is helpful in understanding where I do live in the bigger picture. For today’s mindful Monday, I ask you to reflect the same on these three questions:
What is the center of your universe?
What is your center?
What centers you?
Try to see these questions as separate, and articulate each answer for yourself. Having an answer to these questions will help you define you and perhaps may even drive you to answer some of the other big questions in your life. Today, put these questions at the center of your mind and reflect, ruminate, rejuvenate.