Last year, I learned something scary.
When I experience epiphany, it always seems to come in a lightning bolt of recognition: something previously unknown that is at once obvious and undeniable. But usually when I look back I can see little elements of the idea trying to spring forth in my mind – small tests of its veracity before unfolding in a flat statement.
Driving in the car, singing along with the radio and thinking about my life at that moment, I came face to face with a hard truth: there is no such thing as safety.
Many of the people I’ve said this to since seem unsurprised by this statement when I make it. Just, “oh, yeah, there’s not.” For me, though, it wasn’t simple to realize this. Unless you consider that I simply burst into tears.
You see, most of my life has been built on the premise of being the “good girl.” Doing the “right” thing – and there was always a cultural norm or an authority figure to clearly dictate what that right thing was. I honestly can’t imagine how many times my dreamer’s voice was silenced by a much more practical, “follow the rules” sort of influence. I used to believe that as long as I made the right choices, followed the right path that everything in my life would work out okay. In fact, that was my primary JOB in life: to make sure everything worked out okay thanks to my constant control of every situation. If I was perfect, life would be, too.
And here I was, facing fully for the first time the raw fact that nothing could keep me safe. I could make all the right choices and my life would still be at risk of spinning completely out of balance at any moment. And, more importantly, I started to recognize very clearly how many choices I made that were made out of a desperate attempt to keep myself “safe.” I was selling out for something that wasn’t even real. And it had to stop.
It’s still something I struggle with, honestly. I seek to choose my actions with wisdom, and there are still a myriad of things I choose because they are responsible and function to keep my life whole. But I’m starting to develop a new definition of what that wholeness means. It’s not just keeping the bills paid or the checklist squared off (though those are still important). It’s also listening to what’s happening with my inner voice and making sure that it has a place to be heard. I’ve become more myself and at the same time more dangerous. Because being really, truly, completely me in the world is a huge risk. But it’s worth it because I’ve realized that I like who I am.
Scratch that – I’ve realized that I love who I am. And that has been the biggest miracle in my life (more on this later).