No Distressed Damsels Here: Why I Don’t Believe in “Surrender”
“You become mature when you become the authority of your own life” -Joseph Campbell
When you write (thoughtful, meaningful) songs, you spend an awful lot of time with words. You taste test words like your god damn wedding cake. You look up definitions, dwell on connotations, create figurative Rorschach blots of interpretation in your mind. Words are the difference between masterpiece and meh. As a result, I am like an emotional impact blood hound.
In the wild west of social media, words get over used and mis-used at an alarming pace. It creates a kind of meaningless cacophony of copy born from an anxious spiral to sound different from everyone else by imitating them. Today’s compelling think piece creates tomorrow’s tidal wave of six week programs. So it was with Surrender, which was brought to the femme forefront (at least in my life) with this Ted Talk by Judith Orloff
Four years ago I was burnt-out on hustle culture and broke as fuck. The idea that I could pry my clutching fingers from around EVERYTHING was an epiphany. Hooked on approval as I was, letting go was necessary to my continued sanity. Surrender was about recognizing the boundaries of what I could actually control so I could focus my power instead of squandering it. Never once did it occur to me to relinquish my hard fought autonomy. I had just wrested myself out of small town politics, day jobs, and a loving but overbearing relationship. No way in hell was I willing to let anyone, not even an omnipotent wise universe, take that away from me.
Lately when I run into the word surrender it sounds more like the church rhetoric I grew up with, as in “I surrendered it all to the Universe and….” It’s a seductive idea since it removes all responsibility for failure (it just wasn’t meant to be), but while it may seem freeing this kind of surrender is an insult to the divine mystery AND to yourself.
When we give the credit of our greatest successes to something outside of ourselves we miss the opportunity to actually develop trust in our own abilities. Most of us grew up with constant authority figures. We are taught that good is synonymous with following the rules of the family, school, or religion. You can go your whole life without ever having the freedom or space to actually listen to that little internal voice that’s trying to help you unfurl.
As you’re in the process of creating your life, a little surrender can go a long way. Free up your power, by all means. Drop some balls and reigns and whatever else you need to so you can focus, because no one can do it all. Then, when things start to go right take the fucking credit. You did that. You.