“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” -Pema Chodrun
One night I was sitting around my Los Angeles apartment. (It doesn’t matter what day of the week it was because, in my life, each day and night was interchangeable with the next. The days ran into each other like wet watercolor on a canvas, with very little shape or structure to define the image.) I’m sure I was wearing lounge pants. I’m sure my hair was in a messy bun. I’m sure I was eating something or picking the nail polish off my fingers. I’m sure I had the thought, “So, this is it for my life? What the f*ck?”
You see I knew something deep in my heart. That other people were doing things. They were DOING things. And I was binge watching The Good Wife every night…
Sometimes you have a realization in life that is both painful and beautiful at the exact same time. Painful, because it brutally slaps you in the truth. But beautiful, because that truth gives you a road map to try something different.
I’m not sure when I realized I felt like my life was passing me by… if it crept in slowly over time or smacked me in the face. But, the point is, that one day I came to grips with the reality that I wasn’t living enough.
I wasn’t experiencing enough.
I wasn’t feeling enough.
And without experiencing or feeling, I would never grow. Because growth requires LIFE in order to feed.
As a 36-year-old single woman, I remember I used to tell myself, “I’d rather love someone and feel that loss than not feel ANYTHING in my life.”
And sure enough, years later, I am smack in the middle of a real, soul-touching moment of emotional growth. And it hurts. And it stinks. But it means I am putting myself in the game and allowing myself to be vulnerable. And it means that I am alive.
In the last few years I have truly leaned the value of embracing my perceived “failures” and “mistakes.” I have embraced stumbling and correcting myself. And I want you to learn the same Here’s why.
Fact: Many of us operate under the idea that life is designed to be easy.
Fact: It is human nature to avoid situations of pain.
Fact: To truly be alive is to experience stuff that sucks, and to be willing to work through it and move forward.
“Numb the dark and you numb the light,” Brené Brown reminds us. And this is truth. Life is a polarity. For every action there is a reaction. Darkness requires light to be dark, lightness requires dark in order to shine its brightest. They go hand in hand. And so I ask you to remember these three things.
First…everyone messes up. It’s just that nobody ever talks about it. And so, in keeping “hush hush” about our stumbles and falls, we add layers of shame to the journey. The more shame, the more “broken” we feel and the more likely we are to make our perceived failures our story instead of what they really are — burps.
Second…life is not designed to be stagnant. Well, maybe for some people it is, but for many of us, to truly get our hands dirty with life requires progress. And progress requires breaking free from our comfort zone. And, in the act of breaking free from our comfort zone and our own boundaries, we are destined to fall on our asses (more than) a few times.
Lastly… that every fall gives opportunity for a rising. A rebirth. A small death and a chance to come back into the Universe every day and start again. These leaps give us character and our vulnerability. They give us perspective and a reason to tap into an open heart. And the more we are able to do this, the more we can learn to “renegotiate” with our life time and time again. The more we learn to do this, the more we realize that our life is not made “hits” and “misses” but a fluid wave that rolls in and out and back again.
So the next time you hit a bump in your road, try to take a step back. Feel your fear. See it. Allow yourself the natural reaction — and keep walking. It is the bumps that make us who we are, and able to take life head on.
We asked Dr. Robin Henderson, PsyD, Chief Executive, Behavioral Health for Providence Oregon and Clinical Liaison to the Well Being Trust to weigh in on the issue of not being afraid of your mistakes. Here’s what she had to say:
Sarah is giving voice to something that we all feel — the impact of life’s bumpy road. It’s important to recognize that it’s not always sunny outside, and things aren’t always going to go your way. Engaging in positive self-talk is one way to remind ourselves each day that we are capable and amazing, and that all of life’s bumps are part of our story that make us who we are.
If you find yourself in this space, and you can’t get to that place, reach out for help. Talking with a trusted friend, spiritual leader, or even reaching out to a professional is important. You are not alone on life’s journey, and part of good self-care is asking for help. It’s also important to reach in to friends and loved ones who may need that support as well. #BeWell #BeHeard
AK: Providence Medical Group Behavioral Health Services
CA: Providence Psychiatric Services
MT: Providence Behavioral Health
OR: Providence Behavioral Health
WA: Providence Medical Group, Olympia Psychiatry; Swedish Behavioral Health
Learn how Providence St. Joseph Health is advancing the future of mental health.