When You Need to Unpack Some Stuff

“Hey journal, I need to unpack some things.” - Amanda Boldt, 9/8/2020

After months and months of quarantine and feeling a little empty, unmotivated, and anxious in my lack of activities, I’ve had a really busy week. From training for a new job to social engagements to performing in four shows this weekend on Zoom to hosting a friend from out of town, it’s been really busy and honestly really great.

But with so much happening, I woke up this morning and felt the need to debrief on the past several days. A lot has been going on, after all. I’ve been feeling a lot of things. Mostly gratitude, but there’s some confusion, anxiety, excitement, sentimentality, and plenty of other interesting emotions in there as well. And I think there is value in taking time to unpack all the moments that happen in our lives, so that’s exactly what I did this morning while journaling.

I’m a deep thinker. I feel things deeply and I think through emotions beyond just the surface level. So when I’m confused about something I’m feeling or trying to understand why I’m tired or analyzing why I had an anxious day, I really want to get to the bottom of those things. I want to fully understand every aspect of my life and be able to share what I’ve found.

I need to unpack.

One way I do this is through writing, whether that be morning pages or sharing my life on this blog. I’m also a really big communicator. I go to close friends and family to help me justify my decisions. I almost do this to a fault, like when I text my friends to ask if it’s okay for me to treat myself to a Starbucks after work.

I’d venture a guess that there are things in your life you need to unpack as well. Maybe it’s as simple as a busy weekend reconnecting with old friends or creating good art. Maybe it’s a big life-changing event that transpired that forces you to reassess your life.

That’s why I love the word “unpack.” Sure, to process or analyze could work as well, but unpacking is active. It’s taking care to open up the suitcase and find a place for everything. It’s taking care to unlock the case or open up the feelings or moments that are maybe a little scary to get into. It’s engaging with the process of understanding and releasing the baggage from past experiences and trips down paths that weren’t perfect.

There’s beauty in unpacking your baggage. It doesn’t need to be put away in your closet right away. I don’t know about you all, but after a trip, my suitcase sits in the corner of my room for several days as I slowly put everything back in its place. I slowly but surely put my room back together and empty out the suitcase.

It’s like that with life experiences too. Sometimes, there are things that happen to us that we don’t fully understand yet. There are feelings that we can’t quite name. There’s confusion and pieces which still need to be put together. It can take time. And no matter how desperately you want to be fully unpacked with no baggage whatsoever, it doesn’t always work out like that.

So as you unpack whatever is on your mind or on your heart, just know that it doesn’t have to go away right away, in fact, it probably won’t disappear immediately. It doesn’t need to find it’s home right away. It doesn’t need to neatly fit into your life right away. It can be something that you’re still working on unpacking. Something that you’re processing and figuring out. That is okay.

And whatever you’re working through or processing, just remember, you don’t have to do it alone.

Unpacking the hard elements of life is exactly what your friends are for. I believe God puts exactly the right people into your life exactly when they’re supposed to be there. Because the truth is, everyone has baggage to unpack. Chances are, there may be someone who had the exact same suitcase to unpack a year ago and now they can help you process your own experience.

So here is my challenge for you today. Work on unpacking something, anything. Work on asking someone to do it with you. Work on finding coping methods like morning journaling (which does wonders to lighten my soul) or meditation. Work on unpacking, even if it’s a little uncomfy, even if it’s hard.

The reality is, we all have stuff we’re carrying around with us. Again, this can be one moment of anxiety from your weekend, it can be sadness that an experience has ended, it can even be overwhelming excitement for a future plan. Or you may be carrying a heavy suitcase, filled with deep-rooted issues from trauma or loss or mental health battles.

But whatever it is you’re carrying, can’t we all agree it would be nice to let go of some of the burden? Wouldn’t it be nice to travel lightly? Wouldn’t it be nice to fully understand all of our emotions and everything we carry with us?

Don’t shy away from your thoughts and feelings. Those are the beautiful things that make you who you are. And whether you’re in a happy season or a hard one, it’s important to unpack your emotions. Let yourself feel things. Let yourself understand. I think you’ll enjoy some of the discoveries you’ll make about how strong, resilient, and beautiful you truly are.


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