I believe that things do happen for a reason. I cannot accept the notion that everything is pure chance or happenstance. So when I have trials, I rely on the faith in knowing there is a reason. It could be preparation for something else; it could be because my experience will benefit another; it could be for a reason that I will never see or know. I also believe that we, as humans, all share similar “sufferings”. By this I mean, we quite literally are all human and we all make mistakes…we all have faults and insecurities. In addition, we all share similar feelings of inadequacy, imperfection, fear, and suffering. I have not always felt this to be true, however. I have spent most of my life looking at others as having it all together and I was the only one that was flawed. Needless to say, that was a life lived in pseudo-isolation. Quite frankly, I don’t think you can have true relationships while hiding behind a wall.
As I started taking these walls down, I had more meaningful conversations (and shared tears) with my friends and family. I can say, without a doubt, one of the most common phrases said during those moments was, “I’m scared”.
One day, I was discussing my goals with my trainer. You see, I waiver on my goals due to fear and other self-perceived limitations. He mentioned a book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, which is about taking risks, facing fears, and seizing opportunities. From that book comes the following quote, “One of the greatest things that could happen to you is for your fear to become a reality. Then you would discover that it’s not the end of the world.” This was a casual conversation about stage fright and some lingering body image issues. Little did he know, I was living out my biggest fear already.
I had always been fiercely independent. While growing up, my mom emphasized the importance of being able to take care of myself. So I graduated school, and armed with my new degree, I hit the road for Florida with the notion of not settling in one spot. That was just my first stop and there is a whole world to see. So what did I do? I got married, of course. Through those years, we both maintained a great deal of independence and developed our careers even if it meant working in different cities, states, or coasts for a while. But we were still partners and now I had a safety net in my life. If anything is true in life, it is that things change and they did. At this particular turning point, I was no longer that 20-something girl ready to take on the world. I was now a 40-something woman with no safety net and honestly, I was terrified. This time I was armed with self-doubt and fear and I was about to face the world…alone. So, the answer that comes to mind when I hear people say, “I’m scared”?… “Yes, we are all scared.”
So I set out again to conquer the world. I made more mistakes and continue to have more lessons learned. I don’t think I have conquered anything but myself. (Well, really, I haven’t even conquered myself either…that’s more of a work in progress.) I have let more of those walls down and allowed myself to get closer to people. I can appreciate what is really important in life, I know who I want to be, and ultimately what I want out of life. Ok – I am slightly bummed that I wasn’t a quicker learner. I would like to have learned some of these lessons without getting so damn old.
Here are some of the lessons I have learned while on this journey and use to guide my way:
- Live in this moment, this hour, and this day. Take life in small bites. Do not spend too much time looking into a future in which you have little control.
- Find something to be thankful for. There is always, always something to be thankful for.
- Make a difference in someone else’s life (and don’t tell anyone). Give a piece of yourself and expect nothing in return.
- Focus on healthy things that bring comfort, satisfaction, and happiness. The sunshine, a workout, spending time with friends, a book, a movie. etc. (Retail therapy?)
- Share love and let the ones you care about know how important they are…because they really are not guaranteed to us.
- Have faith and pray to be given the strength to get through.
- Demonstrate kindness both to yourself as well as others. Show the same compassion for yourself as you would your closest friend and allow yourself to feel the pain. It is ok to hurt.
- Smile even when you don’t want to…smiles get returned.
- Spend each day becoming a better person than you were the day before…
The truth is all those years of protecting myself…I never protected anything.