I'm Going Anyway
For a while now I've been sinking into a comfortable, safe rut that I call my couch, my bed, my sanctuary.
Feeling safe, feeling like I have a home, it's something I don't feel readily. I am particular, and I may not always know why, but I can feel what sits with me best compared to what could be just settling. The last few years I have raised the bar quite high to avoid settling, and now that it is further from me than any easy peasy little reach, I'm going to have to get off this damn couch to grab it.
I've been afraid of failing; so afraid of making the wrong choices that I've backed myself into a corner and refused to choose anything. I have many goals in life, and while I continue to achieve the career I always dreamt of...my career was never among my deepest dreams, the ones that drill a hole in your gut every day.
Once upon a time I wanted to see everything. Lately, I have struggled with the practicality of experiencing the world: What if my money could be better spent going elsewhere? What if something comes up that's more important than my spontaneous vacation? What if something happens to my family while I'm gone? What if I hate seeing the world after all...then what?!
But yesterday I realized what I've really been afraid of, so much more than the usual doubts and fears of the unexpected.
How often and easily I forget that I'm afraid of succeeding, of loving every second of being flung outside my comfort zone and into the tropics, the desert, the most ancient forest, and the tallest, most badass mountains. All of my dreams have always involved adventure. All of the stuff that goes on in my head outside of logical actions carries me away to awe-inspiring scenes I never would have believed could exist on the same earth.
I've been struggling to feel happiness, to remember how to have fun, to calm my nerves, and to find and create a place where I can wake up happily. I've gotten comfy here in this house with these friends in this city, and while I cherished practicing making roots, it's felt like just practicing. I've forgotten how to love the feel of my arms reaching out toward the sun like thirsty branches waiting for their turn to taste the warmth of a new day, a new chance. And I realize that's all I ever wanted, to wake up somewhere warm, where the sun is shining, and outside my window lies lush trees and sparkling water, and never, ever concrete.
I'm writing for a living, I'm writing on my own schedule, I could write from anywhere in the world, but for months I've chosen every day to believe Tomorrow will bring me those wondrous views and sites I long for, while I've dreamt and struggled to understand why I can't figure out how to leave, to actually find myself anywhere like I've always wanted. I just keep telling myself I don't know how.
I watch other people go to this place and that, this Caribbean Island or that European mountain, and lately it's made me want to give. up. on. everything. Gritting my teeth and cursing through every day, feeling so. damn. stuck. And as much as I tried, I couldn't follow the advice other travelers were giving me- to just book it and figure out the details later, or to plan everything you ever wanted without looking back. I tried everything I was told, as much as I knew how, but all of those attempts felt like they were for everyone else but me.
But (in the first 10 minutes of meditation I've given myself in weeks) I finally started to hear that voice in my head again, that tiny little important voice that makes me daydream back to a child with a mane of black hair and eyes that challenged everything. I was learning that I was bossy, a loud-mouth, a smart-ass, distracted, but I didn't know I was a leader, a dreamer, a fighter. I didn't know I was brave. And over the last few months, I've forgotten how to listen to that girl with the wisdom behind her voice, before she thought the whole world was trying to reign her in.
I keep reminding myself, I'm almost 30 years old, I've lost so much time trying to be someone other than myself that it makes me ache. It feels terribly impossible to just look forward, while I feel the person I've always been pulling and grabbing at me, such a strong grip grasping at anything to keep holding me back.
But I can keep going. Even though it feels impossible, I can keep going. I am strong enough to push past this meek image of myself, these memories that I let define me.
That person I have always been disappears with each passing moment. And is gone again. And again.
I am already a different person than when I woke up, when I began writing this post, when I blinked and let my mind wander to what I would eat for breakfast. I keep thinking that every year is another chance, but it goes so much deeper than that, so much more intricate, down to each passing second. I am not who I have always been, I am this living breathing moment.
Like Mr. Roger's said,
"Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun, like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."
And this, I think this is more what real life is than anything else. It isn't a composite of all of the people you've known, memories you carry, experiences you've long forgotten. Life is also an active noun, like struggle. It is never a perfectly measured stack of memories, it only exists in each current moment.
There is nothing about who I was that has to define who I am now, and now, and going forward forever. And after all of the advice I've gotten, I finally heard the words I needed all along, hilarious and simple words my best friend billowed across the sushi bar to a newcomer struggling with a Spider roll:
"You're just supposed to try."
I think this is all we ever need to hear, really, whether we are losing grip on grains of rice through clumsy chopsticks, or staring at the Confirm Purchase button for our very first voyage outside of our comfort zone.
Thinking about the daring humans I admire most, I always feel the most inspired by just that, their riskiest moves. I never give myself what I most desire because I am too afraid of being different, of failing, of succeeding, of living. But as this year's weeks turned into months, the fear of the shriveled-up, self-destructive shell I was becoming finally overthrew my will to feel safe and comfortable forever.
So yesterday, I booked my trip to Jamaica.
I call it "my" trip because I have dreamed of experiencing this little corner of the world for years. I could have booked it anytime in the last decade, I could have booked it tomorrow, I could have booked it ten years from now, but I booked it yesterday.
And finally finally finally, tears stung my eyes last night as I looked around at my town and realized I did it. I am going someplace. Without warning I felt so much bigger than all of my days behind me, and I couldn't believe it finally came from the mere beginning of the journey; not from snapshots of the beach or breathtaking views to look back on afterwards, but from finally just saying Yes! to my dreams, and F off to my fears long enough to actually do something about it.
The absolute hardest part of being afraid is actually believing you can get over the fear itself. Just as so often I realize I'm anxious about my anxiety alone, we can be so afraid of being afraid that nothing else gets through to us at all. Beginning is by far the hardest. Being willing to stand up again once you've been forced to the ground, not knowing if your wobbly knees will hold you or your voice will tremble for everyone to hear. The act of standing up at all is the very thing that gets us through everything. Every step we take beyond where we used to draw our limits in the sand takes us to the most important place we could be. It takes us to a wild change, a new chance, a fresh start in every moment that we choose to take it.
In two weeks I will be in a place I've always dreamed of. This is how I feel alive, this is how I feel so full I could burst, by being as big and as loud and unapologetic as I feel inside. For so long I have let the doubts, limits, and especially the sneers of others crush me into a box smaller than my spirit, but I am finally remembering that special thrill I can't be myself without, that rush as I stare down the naysayers, the worries, and the risks, and laugh saying,
"I'm going anyway!"