What Are You Afraid Of? 12.18.21
Maybe you’re like me and you never even take the time to pause and ask yourself that million dollar question. A question that, when and if we ask it, we might reveal more about ourselves and our own wantings than we feel we have the time for, the space for, or the energy for.
Over the last many months I have made an excuse for everything happening within my mind.
I know how much the gym and sweating out my demons helps me to keep my anxiety from overcoming me, yet lately, I have found every possible reason to avoid it, to not keep a regime, a routine that would give me both release and freedom. I know what's best for me, for my body, but I still choose the harder thing.
I know how much I need time off, an entire day with no plan, no “to-do list,” no goal, nothing to accomplish, no task to win—even so—the second I am presented with said free time or a few unplanned hours…I feel paralyzed, scared, out of body. So I fill it up. I know I needed that day off, but I still choose to not take it.
I know how much I have missed writing—I say it once or twice a week even, to my partner, to my sister, even to co-workers lately. This space that is all my own. A space where I can think, craft and curate letters into words into sentences into feelings into release. The writing space has always been a safe one for me, however, in the last year I have avoided this known antidote because I have been so afraid that whatever I might write down may not matter to anyone else. I know I’ve needed writing, but I restrained myself from fear.
I allowed my human desire for belonging to overwhelm my soul's desire to belong to itself.
I am a perfectionist. It is the endless double-edge sword of my life. Perfectionism is what makes me polished and organized and a “go-getter,” yet it’s also the constant wedge between my truest feelings and my ability to express them. Perfection keeps me from trying new things, new things that I won’t be good at right away. Perfection keeps me from failing, which is the magical space between control and rest where we fall and learn the most about ourselves. Perfection keeps me from starting just 1 of my millions of big ideas, because I convince myself that I don’t deserve to change and grow.
You see, somewhere along the way I think I started believing that I am not deserving of both my highest highs and my lowest lows.
The last 11 months have been maybe the hardest I’ve ever endured. And even as I write that, I feel an immense guilt. A guilt that feels shackled to my chest. A guilt that feels like it permanently lives at the top of my throat, waiting to remind me of its weight when I am already down. These last 11 months have been filled with perhaps the most extreme ebbs and flows I have ever met.
In this time I have met my soulmate and learned more about what it means to love another human being then I ever believed possible.
In this time I have concurred—what felt like the impossible some days—and become a published author and creator of a book that might easily be my proudest accomplishment to date.
In this time my family dynamic has shifted overnight. It has become a piece of my life that I understand less and less every day. What was once a piece I thought I had so figured out, so comfortable, so familiar, so predictable, so known—is now as transient and ever-changing as my acting career.
So now I must ask myself—What are you afraid of, Andrew?
This week I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle and as she discussed Forgiving and Finding Peace with her guest, the incomparable Ashley C. Ford, Glennon asked Ashley “How would you define forgiveness?” Her answer was simple:
“For me, forgiveness is giving up on the idea that it was ever going to be different.”
Wow. I mean…
When I heard this I stopped, threw an imaginary shoe at the foot of Ashley C. Ford, and went over to my phone to rewind it and hear it again. and again. Thrice it was.
“...giving up on the idea that it was ever going to be different.”
I started to cry.
I started to cry because I was realizing in that very instant that I can’t embrace my current reality and live presently with anyone, let alone with myself, until I relinquish my death grip of control and my staunch belief that my life was ever supposed to be anything except precisely what it is. Right. Now.
Everything I have done, said, encountered, lived, known, met, heard, tasted, seen—all of it, all of it has led me to today. Right now. Sitting on my bed in my tiny New York City bedroom as I listen to the sounds of my dryer rattle my kitchen counter and the sirens blare on the corner below me, sitting cross legged on my bed, typing into my computer curious and a bit indifferent—wondering if I will share this piece of writing with others or keep it close to my chest.
Every hard conversation, every loss, every broken relationship or expectation, every doubt—all of it—all of it has led me to today.
Grace is something I really struggle with, I can often offer it up to others, but grace for myself? Forget about it!
For me it comes back to the notion of “deserving.” What do I deserve? What do I not deserve?
The older I get the more I am starting to recognize that this back-and-forth within me is actually about forgiveness. Maybe it has never been about whether or not I deserved the happiness or the strife I was in the midst of, maybe it has always been about changing the narrative inside me, the stories and patterns I subscribe to, and finally forgiving my anxious expectations of the past and embracing the abundance within my now.
In the last week I have also, finally—and with a big push from my partner—gotten honest with myself about my current sadness. My insecurity. My own shame responses.
I have to say though, I don’t know that I really understand the full scope or weight of my sadness yet—and maybe I never will. And maybe that's the point. Maybe inside this big, beautiful and messy thing we call life—maybe it is just a daily practice of showing up to our feelings, letting them rise within us, but then, forgiving our expectations and looking forward, instead of holding onto “what could have been” — what could have been doesn't matter, because if it could have been it would have been, but it wasn’t, because here. we. are.
So, if you’ve made it this far…ask yourself…”What are you afraid of, _______?”
No really, ask yourself that. Out loud. Now. Insert your name. Do it now. I’ll wait....
Do you feel like there is something you won’t give yourself permission to do or start in your life because you are convinced you “don’t deserve it?”
Do you make excuse for all of the stuff you know your mind, soul and body actually need?—just like I do—because you are convinced that you can only have those things after you’ve proven to yourself and others that you “deserve them.”
What expectation do you need to forgive within you about your past? What story is consuming your heart right now? —a story with an outcome that you can’t change, but one that you can forgive.
I am starting to believe that I do deserve to be happy. I do deserve to be loved. I do deserve to change beyond my story. And the best way I can believe those things is by starting with forgiveness.
So—what are you afraid of?
I know it may seem scary today, but what if you forgave yourself today, so that your tomorrow could be different?
be well. be kind. & be brave.