A Narrow Escape…
Back in my night-clubbing days (yes, you read that right) I had a profound, albeit unconventional experience with intuition.
As an early 20-something lone girl in a night club, I tended to attract – you guessed it – men. One particular guy who noticed me seemed nice enough. He offered to buy me a bottle of water, so I followed him through the crowd of undulating, inebriated young people toward the back of the club where the bar was.
If you’ve never been to a nightclub before, it’s important to note that no matter where you are, front or back, it’s crowded. Nightclubs are made up of a continuous group of smelly, packed-in sardines lining a sticky, alcohol-covered floor. No getting around it. It’s also no surprise that the people nearest the bar tended to be the drunkest and therefore the most unpredictable.
After retrieving the water, it was a bit of a puzzle attempting to make our way back toward the DJ. We dodged through people dancing, people drinking, and people doing inappropriate things. We pushed through couples and strangers alike. And then, when it seemed like a wall of bodies was determined to keep us from making any more progress, a random space opened up like the parting of the Red Sea. Three whole feet of empty nothingness to pass through.
“Go for it!” my guy-friend shouted, and started to push me gently from behind. Except, at that moment, I heard in my mind an instinctive “no!”. Instead of letting my front foot take a full step forward, I shoved it to the floor to stop myself from going any farther.
A half-second later, a man vomited directly onto the floor in the space I had just refused to enter.
I had narrowly escaped the worst night of my life.
Your Gut vs The Push
I come back to this story every now and then when I think about intuition and gut feelings. I didn’t know that man was going to vomit. I hadn’t even seen him before he appeared in that space. But something in that instant told me to wait and stop, and because I did, I avoided getting covered in sick.
Sometimes trusting your intuition is a quick, instant process. At a crosswalk, you might look left (or right, for my overseas friends) one last time before crossing the street, and that extra glance keeps you from getting run over by a car. Or you might feel a clench in your stomach when a stranger approaches you, and decide to go another direction to avoid them. Had they wanted to harm you? Why take the risk?
But sometimes intuition is a slow process. It arises only after asking yourself several questions over time. In this case, intuition takes the form of micro-no’s or micro-yes’s – answers to the questions you’ve been asking yourself – which add up to point you in the right direction. But because these no’s and yes’s are quiet and gentle, it’s easy to drown them out.
Your own insecurities, fears, or ambitions can drown out your gut intuition. Society will most certainly push you in a prescribed, socially-acceptable direction. Your best friends and family members may even do it inadvertently, giving you advice that goes against what your body knows is true for you.
I’ve had so many experiences recently with slow intuition. I wanted to share them here because, by listening to my gut rather than what society, friends, or even my own logic told me, I ended up taking an unconventional life path where I found a profoundly fulfilling way of being that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. Essentially, I made it to a life that’s right for me.
The Winner: Gut and Intuition
For unconventional starters, I remained friends with my ex-boyfriend immediately after our breakup and lived with him for all of five months before moving out.
Weird? Yes. The right thing to do? Most definitely.
My friends told me to take space from him. My family wanted me to move out quickly. Even my therapist, who is beyond accepting of my life choices, gently urged me to move forward. But something didn’t feel right. To start with, I didn’t know where I wanted to live. An apartment? A house? Did I want to buy or rent? What city did I want to live in?
Answering these questions immediately post-breakup is downright impossible. All those painful emotions swirling around makes it difficult to sort out what you really want. The extra time living with my ex gave me room to figure out what I really wanted, and also kept me from making a wrong decision spurred by pain rather than growth.
Now, I have a home that is perfectly suited for me, brings me an incredible level of joy and comfort, and has more trees than I can count. All because I listened to the micro-no’s when I asked myself if I was ready to move out.
In addition, living with an ex-partner for five months really forces a person to work through all that post-breakup baggage without any excuses. My ex-partner and I were able to figure out what went wrong, why, and how to move forward. If we had completely broken things off and listened to society’s suggestion of a no-contact period, my healing wouldn’t have entirely completed, a piece of my heart would have been left behind, and I would have lost a very dear friend who meant the world to me.
Even the relationship itself was a great example of following my gut. Throughout our time together, my friends and family told me how great a couple we were – how sweet we were, how much they loved my partner. Except they didn’t see how often my ex-partner and I struggled. They didn’t see the tears, the pain, or the distance. They didn’t see the frustration or anxiety. All they saw was the Facebook photo reel and the smiles on our faces when we were having a good time.
If I had listened to my friends and family and sought their approval, I might have tried to stay in a relationship that was far past its expiration date. But I trusted my gut. I mutually ended it on good terms and salvaged our friendship in the process.
What About You?
I have other examples too but I also want to hear from my readers. Are there areas of your life that you felt pushed in one direction, yet followed a different path?
Examples would be:
- Whether to stay in your desk job or follow your dreams? (I chose to stay in my job, to support my dreams, which wouldn’t be possible without the 9-5 chug)
- Whether to have kids or forgo that path? (slowly, over time, it’s clearer and clearer that kids are not right for me)
- What friends, relationships, or family ties to keep or remove from your life?
- What decisions to make about your health, happiness, and wellbeing?
- Where to live?
- What to buy?
- Whether or not to step into a waterfall of vomit?
- The list goes on!
Tell me your stories! I can’t wait to hear.
The biggest takeaway here is to resist when someone is pushing you, whether literally or figuratively. Even if you ultimately follow the path they suggest, at least you stopped and took the time to really decide what was right for you. By doing this, you can begin to cultivate a life that is uniquely, unequivocally you.