Monday, September 25, 2017

Do Scary Shit.

Last year, I lost a cousin to suicide. And it was awful, for obvious reasons. As someone who has dealt with depression for a majority of my life and had to navigate high school, college and embarking on a career… it really really hit home for me. Because I was there. I’m always there. There were days in my past (and if I’m being honest, there are still plenty of days) where I didn’t think I could go on.

It affected me pretty badly. All I could think about was how much life she had left to live, and how many good things are on the other side of manic episodes. But, I also understood too clearly what was going on in her mind. It sucked. So I wrote about it.

I had spoken about depression and anxiety before, and it’s not a super top-secret fact about my life. But I also think I confuse people because I have a pretty positive personality (most of the time) and laugh a lot and make jokes and talk to dogs like they’re humans and I seem happy. I wanted to share the truth and let people know that not only is that not always the case, but also that it’s something I live with every day. I limp through life because of it. Sometimes I’m happy, but I’m always depressed. If that makes any sense.  I just wanted to be open about it, wear my depression on my sleeve and let people know they’re not alone in it.

I was SO scared to hit publish. I immediately signed out of every social media app on my phone because I didn’t want to receive any notifications. I just wanted to get in the covers and hide. But, I also wanted to post selfies… so…. eventually I decided to get back on the horse. And when I signed in, I couldn’t believe the response. So many people were not only supportive, but were sharing their own experiences. I had more messages and comments than I knew that to do with (I would be a very bad professional social media person) and it literally made me burst into tears constantly because I was so moved.

Then, at work, people started asking me to talk. They’d ask me to go on walks and tell me that they’re going through the same thing, or they knew someone in their life going through something similar, and either wanted advice or just to chat about it. I had SO many meaningful, tear-filled conversations with people I knew well, and some who I didn’t know at all. I know it’s small, but it was one of the coolest moments of my life. It impressed me that something as small as sharing a personal story could impact and connect others so well. I never would have experienced any of it without allowing myself to be vulnerable and do something that scared me immensely.

There have been so many times in my life when I was afraid and then backed out. I was once interviewed for a job that was BIG and SCARY and I turned the job down because I was scared I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t apply to Emerson because I was afraid to have to audition, or submit writing samples. I was scared to end a relationship because I didn’t want to have a tough conversation, and because I was a little bit afraid of being alone and thought I might be alone for the rest of my life. And that’s just a smattering (what a great word) of examples.

This year, after leaving Los Angeles (primarily because I was afraid of the unknown), I just got so tired of fear running my life. All the best things that have happened in my life have blossomed from vulnerability. I can’t be opposed to change and want my life to move forward as well. So, therefore, this year has been all about saying yes to things that scare me. I’ve gone on dates, I’ve interviewed for jobs that I have no business having, I’ve socialized way more than I’d typically like, I’ve hiked alone in the forest, I’ve traveled a ton, I’ve taken on new hobbies and I’ve tried new things.

Not everything has been AWESOME.  In fact, one trip I went on was so difficult for me that I spent the night crying on my yoga mat in my hotel room… then I ate a bunch of candy and I don’t even LIKE candy. But, there’s not a single thing I regret doing. I don’t regret that one terrible date who thought paying for my dinner meant I should have sex with him, I don’t regret driving alone to Vermont listening to a Harry Potter audiobook, I don't regret reaching out to my old boss for help finding a job and I definitely don’t regret that expensive, last minute trip to Los Angeles just to see my favorite dog and eat dinner alone at my favorite burger place. (Eating alone in public is a very new thing for me.)

I pushed myself a whole lot this year. And it’s been incredibly rewarding. I still don’t have a clear vision for what’s next… but I feel a lot closer to it. And I feel a hell of a lot lighter. So, go out and do the things that scare you. NOW!

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