Alannah is a recent graduate from the University of Wyoming with backgrounds in environmentalism, international studies, photography and cooking. She is passionate about the intersections of her interests and continuously finds value in deeper explorations into the connections that weave us and our environments together. Alannah is currently traveling the West Coast, exploring new places and herself. She hopes to share her journey, healing, questions and connections with readers here and beyond!

Realizing My Change

In the last month, my trip ended and I returned to both the town that held my childhood and also my college town. Being back has been a fascinating dichotomy: challenging upwellings of my past and newfound supportive shifts towards healing. Being here now feels like I’ve entered an alternate reality. I knew these towns intimately. They held me for some of the most difficult times of my life. It almost feels wrong to be here and be happy now. But I am. 

As I reflect on how my entire reality has shifted to this point I keep returning to the concept of capacity. In my last article, titled Personal Seasons, I explored the importance of the gradual undercurrent of slow, every day change. As I transition out of what felt like a beautiful sphere of separated development and every day unseen change  (almost a retreat) back into the life I used to know, I am starting to see the flashy changes and new realities. Existing differently in this space has also led me to question why I couldn’t be confident in who I was when I went to college here, or when I went to high school. Again, I believe it comes back to having increased capacity. 

“1. Build your confidence. 2. Expand your connections. 3. Improve your competence. 4. Strengthen your character. If character is not strengthening your capacity is weakening. We need to check our leadership for leaks. 5. Increase your commitment.” Sheila Heen

Building Capacity 

My capacity comes from consciously approaching all areas of my life with the deep intention for self-awareness. It is also a practice of self-compassion. As I began to realize the vast possibilities of life, I started to work backwards, seeing my new ideas as not the end goal but the next step to work towards. I started to see the space between as the delta, the change, the beautiful, undefined process. 

The most difficult part was working to meet myself where I am in the moment and to bring awareness to the past that has built who I know myself to be today. I had to forgive myself for ending up in places I didn’t belong. I had to hold myself through the pain of realizing that I had such little hope for myself that I thought I deserved the deep pain that had found me. Deep sadness seeped through the cracks as I broke open these experiences that I believed were ingrained into the foundation of who I am. As I worked with this pain, feeling emotions in a way I haven’t before, the walls that they created within me and between me and this world softened and melted away. I began to find flow in myself. 

The peace in this small act of healing gave me the capacity to start to build a new future for myself; a new future self. As I started to honor the excitement of all that I can become, the energy reflected back at me, giving me more strength to attend to the pain of my past and to take better care of myself in the present. 

After weeks of wishing for the exponential change I felt I was ready for, I started to find it in the beautiful compounding impact of elevated capacity. I started to realize the true power of internal validation and expanded internal capacity; both concepts led to an air of confidence and self love that is completely new to me. 

Conceptualizing Capacity 

Being both a writer and an artist I am always searching for images that describe experiences. Thinking through the way capacity has woven its way through my life recently, I have gone through many imagery ideas from staircases to concentric circles to toolboxes and more. The one I landed on now, knowing full well it isn’t the best conceptualization, has been an expanding three dimensional spiral, almost like a cone. I saw a video a few weeks ago discussing how through your healing it feels like you circle back to old patterns and habits. In the video, they discussed how demoralizing that can be. 

The creator went on to draw an image of an expanding spiral, one that looking just like a circle from above but when viewed dimensionally, the image is revealed to elevate vertically with each circle, so each time that you pass back through the point of past habits, you are at an elevated level, better able to work through those feelings and truths. That is how capacity has worked for me, helping me elevate vertically and also to move faster along the path and through the difficult areas. 

Recognizing areas in my life where my capacity has expanded has helped me further pursue these supportive expansions. I know now that the more I fully attend to myself, the more I can fully be myself.

Internal Capacity Fueling External Capacity

My experience with developing capacity within myself has also redefined my experiences with external capacity and the way I engage with the environment around me. As I make peace with the energy I create within myself, my capacity to show up for the situations and people around me also elevates. The better I feel, the more I want to support everyone around me to the best of my ability. Existing differently in relationships rooted in who I was has been a process, and I am far from having it figured out but am continuously surprised by how rewarding it is to do this work with intense intentionality. 

In turn, this also opens the door for others to support me in expanded ways. Being brave enough to be open to receiving help has been an entire battle unto itself, one that I will never stop working through. We are not meant to navigate this world alone. For a long time, I thought the definition of strength was never needing anyone and being completely self sufficient. Strength truly lies in self awareness; knowing when to lean on those around you and knowing when you can be the one showing up for others in the ways you want people to show up for you.