A number of years ago, I was on the phone with one of my close girlfriends and I was organizing the pantry. We were chatting along as I pulled it all out and sorted through it. I had been piling all of the different boxes of tea into the dining room when all of a sudden I saw that I had, like, 38 boxes of tea.
38. Boxes of tea.
I said to my friend:
“OMG, I have 38 boxes of tea.”
I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I even remember joking with her that I should take a picture of it and write a blog post about my tea problem. Alas, I did not take a picture and I didn’t write that blog. But I did find myself wondering things like:
Who needs, or even wants, that much tea? How in the world did my tea habit go that far? And why was I so freaking hesitant to get rid of it?
What was even more baffling to me is that I’m actually not much of a tea drinker. I definitely drink it when I want something warm in the dead of winter, and I drink it medicinally from time to time, but give me a cup over coffee over tea pretty much any day of the week.
So, I started to get really curious.
At first glance, there were the obvious reasons, like, I spent good money on all that tea.
I always bought the good stuff, and in some cases, the stuff that costs ridiculous amounts of money. I even jokingly call Teavana the Tea Mafia because of how easy it feels to drop loads of cash on tea when all you really went to the mall for was shoes. I mean, that store is just so freaking romantic with all the pretty colors and soft lights.
But, alas, I was onto myself. I knew that there was more to the story than ungodly amounts of tea and money.
Like, why was I spending that much money on tea in the first place?
What I discovered was that I was buying, and essentially hoarding, all that tea because of what I made being a tea drinker mean.
It was the fantasy I was holding onto.
The fantasy that I would spend each morning snuggled up with a cup of hot tea and journaling to the very depths of my soul.
Tea represented a connection to myself.
And the idea of giving it all up felt like giving up that connection. If I held onto the tea, I could hang onto the vision. And with that vision, I had hope. And with that I hope, I was able to make it through the days that didn’t feel very connected.
But, it isn’t the tea that gets us where we want to go. In fact, every time I looked at that tea in my pantry, I was only reminded of how much I wasn’t getting cozy with tea. I was reminded of what a failure I must be to spend all that money on tea and not even drink it.
That is the thing about stuff. We hold onto the fantasy of what might have been.
We hold onto the girl we think we should be, we hold onto a definition of success that doesn’t match who we are and what we really want.
I let go of the tea that day. Only the ones I really liked and actually drink made it back into the pantry.
And from that place, I was able to focus on creating what I really wanted: connection to myself.
Today, connection for me doesn’t look like journaling with tea.
It looks like being with nature, stopping in the middle of the day to check in with what I need, and telling myself the truth about how I feel about the happenings of my life.
It looks like having honest and vulnerable conversations with the lovely human mirrors that I call friends. It looks like sitting with my cats and staring in awe at the trees.
It looks like writing you notes like this one, where I can reflect back on my experiences and trust that my words will resonate in a way that moves us both forward.
In the end, I am grateful for all that tea.
I am grateful that I was willing to go beyond ordinary excuses and look at what was really there for me. I am so glad to know that tea is just a shitty substitute for true fulfillment.
I am glad that by letting go of the fantasy of tea that I was able to find something so much greater.
I was able to find me.