Check Your Baggage
He never came out and said it. He was your first boyfriend and though he never said the actual words, you got the hints loud and clear. You were fat.
Growing up you were always the outgoing, confident one. Your brother was the introvert, he was the “shy” one. But every time you were with her, you climbed just a little bit further inside yourself. The snide comments that embarrassed you in front of her friends, and even worse in front of your friends. You began to doubt yourself.
After a few years of keeping your nose to the grindstone at college you met a girl and the two of you married the summer after graduating. The first few years were bliss you couldn’t believe the good fortune you had to be married to her. But things began to change after your daughter was born. It seemed you could never quite get it right. Maybe your wife was right, maybe you’re just not cut out to be a father. Maybe your dad was right too, you probably won’t amount to much.
Relationships are hard aren’t they? And they just seem to get harder and more complicated as you move from adolescence to adulthood. It’s because of baggage. We all carry some sort of baggage around with us. We all have a past and that past can, if we let it, define who we are and what we become in our future.
This isn’t always a bad thing but if we don’t handle our baggage carefully it can be devastating. On the other hand if we take the time to work through our baggage and deal with it appropriately, perhaps with a professional counselor even, we can simply check our baggage and take off on a flight to anywhere our heart desires.
Using the metaphor of checking our baggage versus having some carry on I want to make a couple analogies:
Think of it like this, Checked baggage is the stuff you’ll need when you get to your destination; your toothbrush, your comb, deodorant, clean socks and underwear. You don’t need these things in the passenger compartment with you, but they are still essential items for an enjoyable trip.
Your emotional baggage, if you will, can be thought of the same way. For example. As a child your father was a hard working successful business man who instilled in you a strong work ethic and a desire to do things “right.” This may not be particularly helpful on the 3 hour plane ride but it will give you the upper hand when you get to that business meeting in Los Angeles.
The previous example was positive and for good reason, not all baggage is bad. But what if the baggage is more along the lines of a dad who pushed and pushed and pushed you to unhealthy extremes of perfection? You may want to simply check that suitcase in to the trash. However, if you are a neurosurgeon you might want to keep a little bit of that perfectionism so when you get to the operating room, your not performing brain surgery with a chainsaw. Only crazy people from Texas do that.
The point is this. It’s not always about just leaving your past behind and trying to become a different person. It’s about dealing with your baggage in way that allows you to take the things that make you who you are and using them to make yourself the best you that you can be and discarding the rest. Another way to look at it may be this, only pack the stuff you need for the trip and leave the rest behind.
I will definitely come back to this idea in future posts simply because I, like everyone else I know, have baggage that I need to deal with as well. What baggage do you need to check and what is it ok for you to carry on?