We didn’t have senior quotes in the yearbook at my high school. There were, in short, just too many of us graduating, because I hailed from a large graduating class in a large high school. However, because I was co-editor of the yearbook my senior year, I got one page to design as I wanted, as a kind of send-off. I designed the page for a lot of pictures, and in the very center, I put in a quote.
I am not afraid of failure.
I am afraid of succeeding at something that does not matter.
I stole that quote from from the quote board at Volunteer Girl’s State back in the summer of 1998. I don’t remember who wrote the quote up there, and I don’t recall it being attributed to anyone. What I do remember is reading it for the first time, feeling it resonate in me with all the power of a church bell, and rushing to write it down immediately.
I thought, that is it. That’s how I’m going to live my life.
Looking back, over fifteen years later, I have to laugh at that quote, at the girl who took it so dearly to heart. It was an ideal to strive for, not a motto that encompassed everything she believed in at the time. Because truth be told, I’ve never been brave. Half of that quote is a lie.
Because I’m afraid of failure. I always have been. And I’m also afraid of success in any form, because no matter how well I do, there’s a part of me that feels it’s simply not deserved.
It’s called, by the way, imposter syndrome.
Last year, I started the “Me Project,” a project all about focusing on myself (naturally): it was about accepting myself for who I was and getting better at what I do. And on some level, I’ve done that. But it’s been a very passive experiment up until now. And now, thanks to 2014’s startling lessons, I realize that it’s time to stop being afraid. It’s time to stop being afraid of myself, of my interests, of change. It’s time to start admitting that yes, I do have issues, and some of those issues are deeper than I ever realized. It’s time to start admitting that yes, I do sometimes need help and that yes, it’s okay to ask for help instead of standing up as the stoic enigma that everyone else can rest their heads on. I can do both. I can be both.
It’s time to start being brave. And that’s not going to happen overnight. But it’s time to stop fearing rejection. It’s time to start embracing all aspects, elements, and people in my life, instead of trying to fit them into neat little categories. Like a kid separating all the items on her dinner plate: thou shall not touch!
I’m done. That’s over. It’s time to stop looking to the future, looking to some sort of ideal of having “arrived” and just being. Just living, and accepting that life is change. Some change is good, some change is bad, and some change is worth fighting for.
It’s time to be brave.