Lately, I find I am very afraid. Now, more than ever, the world seems like a scary place, and I feel too frightened for creativity, for adventures, or for dreams.
Today, I sat alone, my mind spinning, and berated myself for being so weak and scared and helpless. What are you doing? You are wilting here, in this place in your mind with no beauty and no fresh air and no bravery. YOU ARE HIDING. I was angry and disgusted with myself. It is a terrible feeling to be paralyzed by conflicting panic, both the fear of being trapped inside, and the fear of what lurks outside. I judged myself harshly. I judged myself ugly.
Then, perhaps hoping for the opportunity to berate myself further, I thought about all the decisions over the years that have brought me to this place.
And I was surprised.
I left a small town for a bigger one, and then for a big city, all by myself.
I have supported myself, been alone, and kept on going through periods of pressure and panic, unhappiness and searching. I did not break.
I have been open to love again and again, even when it hurt me or ended in sadness. I have made friends of all kinds. I have celebrated, laughed, cried, and been a witness to so much sadness and grief.
I have been through years of therapy, processing sad and scary things, and confronting the terrible anger and unkindness that I sometimes have for myself. I have showed up week after week, kept moving forward, taking responsibility for my own happiness and peace, not making it someone else’s problem or chasing quick fixes or ways to numb myself.
I have traveled alone to faraway cities, walked unfamiliar streets with an open heart, and made connections with strangers. I have spoken my mind. I have sung and I have danced.
I have opened myself up to real love, the kind that does not require change or obliteration, but urgent and complete and sometimes scary authenticity. I don’t remember every word that my husband said to me when he proposed. But one thing I will never forget is that he said that I was brave. And I was. I was brave for opening my heart to him, and brave for believing that I deserved his love, and that I could count on it and be worthy of it by just being myself.
And I am brave in this moment, as I make space for myself to feel, and to write, and to dream up new adventures. And I am brave to share it with you.
When I look back at my life through the lens of bravery, I find it in abundance. And when I look forward, I see that I am ready for whatever comes next.
I bet you are too.