I Finally Found Myself. I was in the Wallpaper.
BY VERONICA VICCORA
It's always felt as if my soul were wandering body-less somewhere, waiting for me to chase it down. I always hoped it would turn up somewhere cool like a mountaintop in the Swiss Alps or on a boat in Thailand. But even after all of my big adventures, I found myself spiraling into one existential crisis after another. The last place I expected to find my soul was in an intricately designed, Parisian wallpaper. But alas, that's apparently where the true me had been hiding all along.
Allow me to explain.
For years I was like the child that says they want to be a singing, painting ballerina-pirate-chef when they grow up. I had visions of moving to New York City and pursuing dreams of grandeur in writing, music, traveling and fashion.
Heck, maybe I'd totally pivot and open up a multinational hot sauce conglomerate just because!
I wasn't sure all of this would work together, but I knew these were all very real parts of me. I was an aspiring Renaissance woman, and I wore that like a badge of honor.
Until that badge of honor began to feel more like a badge of shame.
What I had once idealized to be a free spirited, unconventional lifestyle, began to feel more like a flakey, indecisive lifestyle. I felt an external pressure to settle. To pick a direction and stick with it. I looked desperately for the one box that could perfectly contain all my aspirations, my many passions. Everywhere I looked however, it seemed there was one option: find small enough dreams to fit the proverbial box, rather than finding a big enough box to fit my dreams. I didn't even want to live in boxes of any kind, perhaps I'd realize that simplicity was more satisfying than complexity anyway.
But I was miserable.
Watching as everyone else seemed to settle into their "forever boxes," I felt increasingly lost, directionless and alienated. I dreaded the inevitable, "so what do you do?" question. I didn't exactly know how to explain that I was currently dog walking, babysitting, and yoga instructing to maintain enough freedom to build up a blog that no one was reading. I didn't know how to explain how badly I'd regretted giving up on studying music and writing because I feared they wouldn't go anywhere. I didn't know how to explain that I wanted so much out of life that I felt like I'd never achieve because I felt so unable to choose a direction.
Was there something wrong with me?
And then, early one October morning, I was lying in a Bed and Breakfast in Paris when I noticed how gorgeous the wallpaper was. It was an intricate pattern of birds and branches tangled together on a background of baby blue. At first glance it may have appeared overwhelming, but the colors evoked a sense of peace and upon closer inspection I understood that the pattern was repeated throughout the wall. It was at once simple and complex and unapologetic in this paradox. I spent a long time following the many winding paths of the branches, the many detailed leaves and feathers. It was not the kind of scene you could fully take in with one glance. It required a patience, a determined curiosity and I mused over how beautiful that was.
And that's when it hit me: this is what I wanted my life to look like.
I had spent so much time idealizing the beauty of simplicity alone that I'd forgotten the beauty of complexity. Perhaps if there was space enough in the world for lovely, simple white washed rooms to exist beside exquisite rooms of abundance, I too may find space for my multitudes and paradoxes. There was indeed a beauty behind all the lives I was trying to model my own after, but there was just as much beauty in mine that I'd forgotten how to see. I finally understood that I didn't need to find myself, I needed to accept myself.
Perhaps I was discovering little pieces of myself on that mountaintop in Switzerland, and on that boat in Thailand. Just as there are parts of me within the songs I've sung, the words I've written, the mistakes I've made. The journey of self acceptance is not an easy one. It's both incredibly simple, and frustratingly complicated. And if there's one thing I've learned about my soul specifically, it doesn't stay put for very long. I imagine now that it wasn't waiting for me, rather it was playing with me, running away with laughter to the next destination each time I finally caught up to it. Only now, I'm in on the joke, I understand.
Now, I'm ready to play the great game.