2018 has snuck in quietly. We’ve been tired, lazy, snowed in, and coming off the high of an amazing Christmas, where the magic was real (for the first time in a long time). But that doesn’t mean my head space has been quiet. When does that ever happen?! My head space is the spot where juggling balls and whirling dervishes never cease. Ringling has nothing on my head space.
One of those juggling balls: thinking about what I want this year to be. Not a resolution, perse. As I shared on Instagram, when I find a habit I want to cultivate or need to break, I do it, regardless of whether it’s Jan 1. So this year, my thoughts aren’t about choosing a word or losing weight or clean eating. Not this time.
But, I am at a crossroads with many things in life. There are many opportunities before me, and various people in my life rooting for me to do one or the other. And they all sound great. If I could be like da Vinci and sleep only 3 hours at a time, I’d be set (alas, I am like Kramer where lack of solid sleep just makes me narcoleptic and nonsensical). So I am waiting for passion to strike and to be defined by a path that I know is right instead of choosing the wrong one.
That’s what I tell myself. That’s my lie.
Truly, I am passionate about all of the paths splayed out before me (including investing more in the one I am on). But the rubber band that snaps me back from going all in on anything at all is fear.
While I say I want to go all in with something in my life (besides parenting), while I say I believe in certain truths, while I look at MLK and think about his dream and bravery, I am so good at talking myself out of standing up and being me for the world to see.
I can try to believe that my reasons are rational ones (‘the hours wouldn’t work with our family,’it’s not enough pay,’ ‘he is holding me back’). But it is all fear. Of course, with my history, having your inbox and social media feeds bludgeoned with people who threaten your family will bring fear to anyone. But I am beginning to realize that, sadly, Internet haters and mean Facebook comments are the norm. Not the exception. It breaks my heart. But I can’t fix everyone. I can only fix me.
Since I am incredibly Type A (you don’t get this good at time management without learning to love the checklist), I made a little list of all my fears, which I, of course, plan to check off as I conquer each one. Isn’t this fun to do together on the Internet?!
Here it is:
- I am afraid of mean people.
- I am afraid of offending.
- I am afraid of all the weird comments and emails I get from my writing.
- I am afraid crazy people will find me.
- I am afraid I will say something that makes my parents mad.
- I am afraid I will fail.
- I am afraid I will lose money.
- I am afraid I will lose friends.
- I am afraid I will embarrass myself.
- I am afraid my husband won’t believe in me anymore.
- I am afraid I will regret it.
- I am afraid that there is a better way I should be spending my time.
- I am afraid someone will hate me for what I believe.
- I am afraid it won’t work.
- I am afraid my kids will look at what I have done and be ashamed.
It goes on.
Sure, some fear is required. It is nature’s way to keep us from flinging ourselves into situations that will end in tragedy or harm. The cavemen were afraid of fast, sharp-toothed animals for a reason. The ones who weren’t Darwin-ed themselves out of the gene pool.
Yet when does fear become something to conquer? When is it crippling? It is hard to know when fear is your soul’s way of backing you up to keep you from getting eaten by a tiger OR when it is demons keeping you from self-actualization.
But I can’t help escape the feeling that I was given gifts and structured in the way I was to affect lives, to change people, and to help the world. (I know, ego much, Allison!?? geez.)
There it is though: I feel like I am failing at whatever the job was I was called to do. Sometimes I stop and wonder when God is going to “Jonah me” and throw me into the belly of the whale for being a wimp. The details for Jonah, though, were that God set a clear path he ignored. For me, nothing seems clear these days except that fear. That fear is a big ugly demon. He is the whale swallowing me whole.
How do we break this cycle of shutting ourselves down because of fear and confusion? How do we get to the point where we give our God-crafted gifts to the world. We are the only cocktail of us that exists. The world should drink it up. And love it.
Assuming I could get over all of my juggling balls of fears, I am still not sure that would solve things. Because I still am not sure which road I ditch my fears on the side of and start racing down. Which fears are the rational ones? It turns out, 2018 is WAY more complex than I thought. Jerk.
Friends, how do we know what the thing is that we should follow to the ends of the world (to NOT inside the belly of a whale)?
In 2017, I read a lot. Two of the books I read coincidentally touched opposite ends of the spectrum. Grit by Angela Duckworth is a challenge to find your one thing and stick to it. Not to give up. Her secret sauce is finding the point where passion and (at least a little bit) of talent meet and to drive forever on that one thing. Find success in that identity no matter the costs and stay committed.
On the other end was Chrystal Evans Hurst’s book She’s Still There. This is a call to be gentle with yourself, to understand that life is constantly a journey and things change. Your passions change, your direction changes. Our goal is simply to stay in touch with our souls (and God) to discover and determine which is the way to go. (PST- You can see all the books I read in 2017 here.)
I am not sure which way I lean. I desperately want an identity and a passion that is big and beyond me. Of course, it can’t be scary. It has to be full of hugs, and unicorns, and Gerber daisies. But I also like the idea of being a Jedi Knight and following the life force (with a cool lightsabre of course) and being more open and spontaneous.
So while I appreciated the books, they didn’t help me pound through which fears of mine were/are to be ignored and which passion is THE ONE.
But as many times as I started to hit DELETE on this website you are reading and remove it from the world, I just couldn’t. Every time I went to post an essay or some thoughts, bile rose in my stomach and fear made me trash it. Every time I went to pitch a magazine editor, I stopped my draft cold because I could see the end: mean comments and people hating me. My words poured out in my journal, but I couldn’t bring myself to share them with anyone. Because what if everyone hates the someone I am?
Then at the start of 2018, I read Jen Hatmaker’s book For the Love. She heard my heart before I even voiced it. Freaky!
Wrangle whatever holds you down or holds you back. You are too vital to lose years to regret or shame or insecurity or fear. We are not slaves to those masters; Jesus saw to that. Face your issues with courage, sister, because truth and love win, and you have both those cards to play.
I am too vital – Jen said. Maybe this Internet space, this blog/website/personal story site/whatever the cool kids are calling it these days, is my place where I can be vital. Maybe it’s not. Maybe 2018 is going to unveil a new passion for me, one that I can embrace without hesitation because I have kicked fear in the nuts.
But whichever way I go, even if I am blogging from the belly of a whale (does T-Mobile get service there?) I am too vital.
And you know what?
YOU are too vital, too. Did you know that? Whatever YOU are called to do, whether it is a new passion or an old one, YOU are vital. Let’s stop fearing what we fear.
I feel hopeful for us. I feel like 2018 will be the year we figure out what is life-saving fear and what is fear that keeps us from being who we are meant to be.
Let’s go be who we were meant to be, boldly and bravely. (Oh, and kindly! But that’s for a different 1,500-word post.)
We can do this. Together.