Walking into your Desert- Committing to Your Standards

by elizabethbrantley

My second year in college was  one of the hardest years of my life. At the beginning I had boisterous friends and a renewed, lustful, romantic relationship. I was focused on fun, knowing full well the negative reputation of both my boyfriend and my closest friends.  Even beyond other people’s judgments of these people, I myself had seen the signs of selfish, materialistic nature and playboy attitudes, yet chose to disregard them.

“They treat me differently; it won’t be the same for me” were thoughts that I couldn’t help but think, as I continued in my fun, pleasure-filled life.

Yet like the ancient yogic tale of the scorpion stinging the animal that brings it across the stream, it was in their nature to act as they eventually did, even if it completely devastated me. I was fully aware of their sting before I became their friend or girlfriend. Therefore after much pain, many tears and eventually silence, I realized that I was the only one to blame for my present hardship. I had to take full responsibility for all the emotional turmoil and agony of that year.

By choosing to take responsibility for my present situation, I was choosing against being angry. I was choosing against revenge, against gossip. I was recognizing that as I had created such a terrible situation, I was the only one who could create the opposite, as well.

Through this pain, I now had a brilliantly clearer vision of my expectations for all of my relationships with others. Hidden in this emotionally tumultuous time in my life was the golden lesson of the power of standards and not settling.

Although I don’t keep in touch with these people, I have forgiven them and myself and count the pain and the suffering of that year as a blessing. They taught me the price of settling and what it takes to commit to new standards every day.

The pain from this year was so distinct and clear, that I was very driven afterwards to not settle for friends or relationships that were not composed of true character. My commitment lead me to understand and to face the fact that I would go through a period of not having close friends or a relationship. At that time, I didn’t have close friends that met my new standards, that were “too good to be true” and I certainly wasn’t close to being in a relationship with someone like that either. Therefore, I knew it would take time to find and establish new friends aligned with my greatest needs and standards. Since my new commitment helped me to clarify that it wasn’t worth my time or emotion to become involved with anyone less than this standard, I knew this process of finding new friends or a relationship would begin alone. Very alone.

I call this the “desert” period and it always comes after we have claimed a new standard for an area of our life. It is as if once you have truly asked for what you want there is a drought of it and you are faced with the greatest fear that comes when you claim new standards  – the fear of never getting what you truly want.

There are two ways to deal with the desert before us once we have established our new standards. One we can turn around. We can settle and live in the land that we are coming from, that we know does not supply us with your highest and most ideal situations or relationships. Or, we can boldly face the barren ground before us and trusting, walk forward.

Although it is one of the hardest things to do in life, facing and walking into our desert serves us greatly for two reasons. One, it is an outward symbol to Life that you are committed to what you have asked for. You are willing to undergo some pain and discomfort now (in fact, the exact opposite of what you have asked for) in order to get what you truly desire, even if there is no sign of it anywhere on the horizon. Two, it serves to mold us. Without the desert we would never be strong enough, confident enough or proactive enough to enjoy the life and the relationships that we desire and deserve.

I believe it is the fear of the desert and the risk we think there is in “holding out” that lends us to settling. This then eventually leads us to live lives that lack the luster of our dreams. To some of us “good enough”, living with some pain forever and settling is better than living with the pain of the unknown, the pain of having to actively make the journey through the desert to get to the place of joy on other side.

The truth is, though, that although you may turn away again and again from the sandy, lifeless space in front of you, you will always know deep down inside that you aren’t living at your best.

Aspects of our life aren’t born until we take the journey ourselves, alone, through the heat, the silence and the expansiveness of our individual deserts.

If you have dreamed of something being “so incredibly good” then it does exist and exists just for you. Are you willing to take the journey towards it? Are you willing to cut away all that you know that is not quite good enough?