“My son Jake drew this in school – It’s Jake’s Harbor. If you could build your own harbor what would you put in it?” – Facebook update from Dawn Sandomeno.
You know what motivational speakers forget to tell you? Personal growth sucks. I mean, the benefits of personal growth don’t suck, but the actual growing and changing is a lot of hard work. And it might not make you break a sweat, but it will mentally and emotionally exhaust you.
If you spend any amount of time taking a really close look at yourself and your life, your most fragile fears and insecurities will come to the surface.
And that is not fun.
There have been countless times when I have questioned everything I am and every decision I’ve made about my life. I’ve been scared and ugly and broken and unloved and sick and tired of trying to be better and do more.
These are the times when I just need to sit, rest, and be reassured that I am already more than enough.
I thought of these dark moments of swirling doubts when I saw Jake’s picture of his harbor. For ships, a harbor is a place of rest, protection and refueling. They don’t stay in the harbor forever, but only a foolish sailor tries to survive without knowing where to find the closest port. Harbors are a necessary respite from the adventures of the open sea.
Ships do not consider themselves weak because they need to pull into a harbor.
If you’re intent on challenging yourself to pursue happiness and seek the next best thing, you’d better know where your harbors are. You better have the good sense to use them when you’re running on empty.
Where do you go for rest? What refills you with joy? Who can you ask to reassure and validate you when you’ve become your own worst critic?
I find peace at the beach and joy in my children. I turn to my husband when I’m afraid of what I see in the mirror. I can’t ask leading questions because I’ll lead us both right off a cliff when I’m like that, but I can tell him, “I’m feeling insecure and I need you to tell me that you love me and I’m brave and wonderful.” And he will. (And no, it isn’t any less effective because I’ve fed him his lines.)
My harbors have saved me and renewed me over and over again.
There are limits to how far we can go without rest. We all have times when we need to be protected, even if it’s just from our own pushing and pulling at the edges of our identities. None of us can sustain a constant pursuit of anything - not even happiness. We are, after all, only human.
Where are your harbors?