“If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.” Jim Rohn

Recently I picked up a camera, and found that I really like photography. It’s finding art in the world around me. The colors, shapes, lines…I love it. Going through photos today, I saw this picture. Silent sentinels, rooted to the spot, always the same as the world changes around them. And this quote popped into my mind.

I’ve recently made a lot of moves in my life. Moves that have been amazing for me. But moves that haven’t come without their own storms, and losses.

These losses have been a lot, including a good friend that I’ve now become estranged with, and have been plaguing my thoughts recently at night. But when this quote came into my mind I realized something. I’ve been a tree for most of my life. Yet I got tired of that life. I got bored. And I changed it. I became something else. Something better. And sometimes that change means leaving behind things that were a part of your past. It made me think that maybe there should be a second part to that quote. Something along the lines of “Don’t remain a tree just because that’s what all your friends are. You don’t have to remain a tree just because that’s what you’ve always been.”

Tomorrow I’m going to get up and go running. I don’t particularly like running, but I needed to do something to start working out. So three days a week the last two weeks I’ve been going for a run when I get up. I run slower than a turtle through molasses, but I run. The first few days were rough. But now I find myself looking forward to the run. To those moments of peace. Of running past the pond, seeing the cormorants. Those surprising mornings when the pelicans show up. Watching the magpies hopping around. Feeling the energy of the mountains in the distance. The warm sun on my skin.

Right now I’m sitting here editing photos. A new plot twist for a book spinning through my head. Sitting on the deck with my boyfriend, looking out at the hazy mountains in the distance. Thinking about my story that made the finals of a contest because I finally had the guts to enter one.

The point is that my life has changed. And it changed because I moved. Not just physically, although that’s been a big part of it to. But also mentally. I moved from a place where I thought I was worthless. Where I thought my life was nothing. I moved from a place of guilt and shame and to a place where I started believing in myself. Standing up for myself. Fighting for myself.

I stopped beating myself up over things that had happened in the past. I stopped blaming things, other people, myself and just moved on. I set down all the heavy emotional baggage that I’d been carrying for so long. I took control of my life.

There’s a lot of things I can’t control in my life. I used to waste so much energy on them. What people thought of me. How other people acted. Other people’s expectations of me. Living by other people’s rules. Worrying about other people’s opinions. Letting people do things to me and not making a fuss because I didn’t want to be a ‘bitch’. I used to worry and obsess (thank you anxiety) to the point I would become paralyzed. I shut down, including my life. In my private mind, I was worthless and dumb and no matter what I tried I was a failure in other people’s minds. I became a tree. I stopped living. I stood still.

And then one day, I had enough. I was tired of being told I was wrong. I was tired of paying for other people’s issues and insecurities. I was tired of putting my life on hold so that other people didn’t feel bad. I was tired of people putting me in molds and then getting mad at me when I didn’t fit. I was tired of letting myself down, of not being the person I knew I was because of the person that I had always been. Of always apologizing for everything. Tired of running around the hamster wheel, spinning around but never going anywhere.

So I grew up. I got rid of my roots. I moved.

Is it always easy? No. Even though I’ve been enjoying running (more than I thought I would), it’s still a struggle every time I hit those first few strides. I still have to push myself up that hill. Still have to push myself to keep going. Past the doubts and fears. Past where my body starts making excuses, wanting to stop. Past that point, and onto the point where it starts to become fun and relaxing. To where my body stops complaining so much. To where I feel the positive energy. Feel it refreshing me. Feel the rush of endorphins that make me excited to get back home and start my day. And that’s just one small change I’ve made to my life recently.

It’s not easy shedding things that you’ve had for a while. Thoughts. Habits. Friends. Memories. Familiar places and things. But sometimes you have to. Sometimes you have to drop the baggage. To rip up your roots, to move away from the spot you’ve rooted yourself to. To try new things, even if you might fail. To dare to become something new, even though it’s something completely different from what you’ve been before.

Some people like being trees, and for them, that’s fine. But I think I’m done being a tree.

Don’t let people make you feel bad for not wanting to be a tree anymore. I’m really lucky. I have a boyfriend and friends around me now that push me, even on the days when I fall back into old habits. Who support me. Who love exploring and adventuring and trying new things as much as I do.

Those people who try to make you feel ashamed for moving? Usually just jealous that they can’t find the strength to do the same thing. To change their life.

I used to feel shame for changing. I thought for a while I was pretending, or being something I wasn’t. But then I realized that being a tree was when I was pretending. That the old part of my life wasn’t being true to me. And any person who wants to make me feel ashamed for changing, really doesn’t understand who I am at all.

The truth is life changes all the time. Every day is a new day to discover something new about yourself. And we are under no obligation to live our lives for anybody else other than ourselves. Or to continue living them a certain way. If you want to try something new, go for it. If you want to explore new things, go for it. If you want to shake a bad habit, good for you. If you are unhappy, move.

We are not trees, and I am so grateful for that. I never want to be a tree again.