One of my favorite pieces, On Love, was without a doubt the scariest thing I've ever published. It was hard to press that button. It's still hard to share it with people. But I needed to write it and a few people definitely needed to read it. That's the thing about fear- once you're on the other side of it, you've won.
I think sometimes people mistakenly think that I live my life without fear. I always take big risks- moving to the Philippines, traveling around SE Asia with a girlfriend, moving to San Francisco, etc.
I take big leaps, but that doesn't mean I'm not scared. Truthfully, I'm pretty terrified of moving to San Francisco. I haven't told anyone that. Fear constantly grips me. I'm afraid that I'll get out there and everyone will discover that I'm a fraud. I'm not really that smart- I don't belong in a Masters program with actual smart people. I'm not really that crunchy. Maybe I'm not really even that liberal- I'm just South Carolina's version of liberal. I'm probably not even a Christian- I'm going to get out there and they'll figure out that I screw up every day. You guys are going to have to stop calling me Rev.
I am utterly terrified of approximately one million things per day. Most of the time (ahem, currently) I'm terrified to get out of bed. I'm always terrified to stand up for myself. I'm terrified to ask for what I really want. I'm terrified to be who I am. I'm terrified to discover who I really am. I'm terrified that I'll never get married. I'm terrified that… etc., etc. You get the point.
But sometimes- and only sometimes- I get the balls to face my fears. If you asked me to move to SF today, I'd probably curl up under my bed and say no, I'll just live here where it's safe. No one can hurt me under here
But yesterday- man. I'd have been all about it yesterday. Yesterday I was READY. And I'm sure that the day I leave, I'll be ready. I'll be scared, but I'll be ready. Because when I think back on the huge fears I've faced before, it's not the fear I remember. It's what came after it.
I don't remember the pit in my stomach when I got on the plane to the Philippines by myself. I don't remember crying at the airport when my parents hugged me goodbye. I remember falling in love with the world's most beautiful country and the most amazing people I'll ever meet. I remember stepping out of the plane in Dumaguete and smelling the air and knowing that I was home. I remember cold bucket baths and spiders and no air conditioning, and I look back on those things and smile. I remember watching hundreds of kids smile on the best playground ever. I remember chicken and rice and Red Horse with my amazing group of friends. I remember the realization that my roommate Mallory and I would have so many memories that no one could ever possibly understand. I remember finally getting my tattoo and forcing myself to end nearly a decade of self-harm. I remember how hard it was to leave the place it was so hard to go to in the first place. I remember Simon trying to burn my passport and hoping that he'd actually set it on fire. I remember becoming more of who I am every single day there.
All of these things happened because I faced my fears. I looked them dead in the eye and said, you know what, what's the worst that can happen? I fall flat on my ass? I end up at rock bottom? Well, I've been there before and the only place to go is up.
The difference is I have people now. I have the best parents in the entire world and friends that would drop everything in an instant to come to me if need be. Even across the country. Even across the world. So even if I fall- even if the people in San Francisco discover that I'm a fake smart person and a fake hippie and a fake Christian- I can take it. If it doesn't work out- I'll find something else that scares the shit out of me and I'll do that. But you know what? I have a sneaking suspicion it will all work out way better than I could've ever imagined. I guess that's faith.
I need you to know that I see it- I know life is scary. I know you're scared. I know this big bad world can knock you down HARD. I've been there. Sometimes I'm still there. But y'all, those leaps are worth it. Don't be afraid to get out of bed. Don't be afraid to let go of someone who hurts you more than they help you. Don't be afraid to tell people you love them. Don't be afraid to ask for a raise. Don't be afraid to take some time to yourself. Don't be afraid to go on dates. Don't be afraid to seek new opportunities. Don't be afraid to be alone. Don't be afraid to pick up and move your life across the country to go to a school you feel like is way too good for you (ahem).
What are you afraid of? What's holding you back? Try to let go of it a little bit. I know the anxiety is overwhelming, but you can do it. I know you can. Go out there and kick some ass today.