What is it that holds you back? That keeps you from believing in that dream, starting that new career, talking to that person, moving forward from the place where you’ve been rooted for far too long? What is that little voice in your head saying? Is it positive or passive, excited or hesitant? Is it restricting your every movement, or propelling you forward, is it encouraging you that no matter what happens next, you’ll still survive?
When I look back over my life, I’m amazed at all the opportunities I almost missed—ones where I almost didn’t say what was on my mind, almost didn’t introduce myself to that person, almost didn’t lean across the table and talk to the guy who was smiling in my direction, almost let my fear win over my faith.
The start of my career would have never happened had I not written, without inhibitions, an article that was pressing on my heart for so long. The deepest connections I’ve made in the church would have never been built, had I not let my guard down and cried in front of strangers, desperate for hope. The love of my life would never have written himself into my story, had I not told my friend that I thought he was cute (and then, of course, her subsequent gesturing of him in my direction across the crowded bar).
It’s amazing to me—always has been—the power of letting our guards down and stepping forward.
And not in the sense of throwing caution to the wind, or not caring about what’s happening around you, but the release of control. The decision to allow what is destined to happen, happen. The ability to take a step back, breathe deeply, and trust.
I’ve struggled with this. I still do. I think it’s a part of my emotional nature, mixed with my perfectionist side. I want, more than anything, to know what’s ahead. I want, more than anything, to outline the path, to make it beautiful, to clean up as many messes as I can (some even before they happen).
I’ve always lived with my eyes forward, with my two feet barely touching the ground as I ran from all that scared me. I’ve always been so quick—ten steps ahead instead of being in the moment. But what I’m in a continual state of learning, is the release. The acceptance. The believing in, and hoping for what comes next—even if I don’t know what that will be.
Time and time again, the most powerful moments I’ve experienced are the ones that happened by fate, not of my control. I couldn’t control the outcome of apartment searching, and so, when I stepped back and stopped trying to force places to fit, I found what easily, naturally did. I couldn’t control whether someone talked to me, forgave me, or looked in my direction. So I let go of the fear and the need to fix, said what I had to say, and walked forward, trusting that the universe would bring what was meant to happen right to me. And the universe did, every time.
I think, as a species we’ve become so tuned into what one another thinks, feels, experiences. And while this is a beautiful thing—because empathy essential for our survival—living life on other’s terms inhibits our ability to be ourselves, to experience our own lives, to live our truths.
I think, sometimes, we get so wrapped up in what others will say, in what could go wrong, in the fear that surrounds a decision that we become too hesitant to move. Yet, on the other side of that movement is the opportunity to turn our entire lives around.
And we’ll only regret the chances we didn’t take.
Something I’m continually trying to teach myself is how to stop overthinking and instead focus on the moment. Life isn’t meant to be stressed over. Yes, there are terrifying times and moments where everything will unravel and fall apart. Yes, there are going to be road blocks and bumps, times when we completely lose our footing and fall flat on our face. Yes, we will experience pain and loss, watch people we love leave us, or be broken in ways we never thought possible. But a large percentage of those negatives cannot be controlled. And thus, there’s no use worrying over them—before they happen, as they do their damage, and even in their wake.
All we can control is our perspective, our decision to breathe, our mental state as we remind ourselves what we are, and have been capable of. And that’s continuance.
In the face of pain—and really, in our everyday lives—we must stop trying to fix, mend, resolve, understand, and control what happens around and to us. We must let go of our inhibitions and need to be anything other than what we are.
Because who we are is enough.
Just exist. Just exist in your messiness, in your confusion, in your pain, and change and moments of doubt. Just exist in the state of dizziness, realizing that maybe what’s important is not having everything planned or figured out, but experiencing what comes. Just let yourself be. Let what’s meant to happen, happen. Let life unfold all around you.
Then realize everything is, and will be okay.