Boxes lay upon the floor of my new room, packed to the brim with pieces of my life. Books, postcards, childhood figurines: they all have a place, even though I haven’t figured out where that place is. They exist as physical representations of who I am or who I’ve been, along with who I want to be. Some make me happy; others fill me with a heavy sadness. None of them are burdens. As I’ve moved throughout the years, I’ve learned what I really want to hang onto. I recognise the objects as pieces of myself I can, and will, carry. I’ve let go of what I can’t, or refuse, to bear.

I have a lot of growing up left to do, but I feel a beginning step is knowing how to let go of what burdens me. At times, it’s a struggle–letting go is only half of the battle; the other half comes from accepting the decision. I’ve thrown away documents and objects that no longer pertain to my life. They were unnecessary in one key critical way: they no longer fit me. I held on to so much for so long, unable to come to terms with the fact that I no longer needed these things. For two years, I kept my over-sized, four sizes too big, clothing. Because what if something happened and I needed them again? What if I wasn’t strong enough to keep with the routine I’d adapted? What if I was still that girl?

When I finally donated them, it was like releasing a bit of my past I hadn’t realised was holding on to me. I hadn’t realised I was still letting it define me, shape me. It took a while, but I finally accepted my strength. I finally accepted that I didn’t need to keep these pieces. I can remember them and learn from them, but I don’t need to carry them.

What a liberation: realising that I choose what I carry. It seems simple, but it means so much to me. It means that I don’t need to sit back and hold onto the parts of me that I know longer require. It means that I shape the weight upon my shoulders; I don’t let it define me or grow into a raging beast that I cannot control. I can choose what I let go of. So, I got rid of them. I continue to get rid of them. I throw away the scraps of paper. I keep the unicorn poster my mother gave me when I was a girl, even though I don’t particularly like unicorns. I choose my burdens. I carry what I will.

This principle applies to people. Some must fade. Some must go in order to preserve the good that we had. Some grow distant. I’ve learned how to say goodbye. I’ve learned how to accept endings. I’ve written quite a few in my day. I remember the past, I reflect on the memories, but I refuse to carry them anymore. They are a weight I will not carry, not because I can’t, but because I won’t.

And then there’s you. I carry you. I carry you in my heart, in my thoughts. I can’t figure out what you are, yet.

That’s a lie. I know what you are. I know that you’re a heaviness I should not carry. That I should let you go. But, I’m not ready to. I’m having the hardest time accepting this. So I carry you. I carry you with me everywhere. Some day, I will learn to let you go. I will learn how to accept the refusal of this burden. But, it will be on my terms.

You’re packed away safely, waiting to see whether I continue to let you out of the box and place you upon my shelves or counter-tops, or whether I finally release you upon the universe–free of my shoulder blades.

You can read more from Emily Harring on her blog.