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I matter. You Matter. We Matter.

When I was little, I was an anxious child. I think it came from my voice going unheard in the family I grew up in.

I had an active imagination, and my mother was an extraordinarily frightened woman, and I think bringing my million “why” questions to her terrified her more, so in turn, she terrorized me back just to shut me up.

Every once in a while I’d forget and ask her something that my mind had just decided to torture me with. By this time, she had learned to tune me out.

I was afraid of the dark, so she’d leave the hall light on so that she and my father could watch TV in peace. One night, I shouted downstairs and asked, “Mom, if I look at the light with my eyes closed will I go blind?” The response she gave her daughter was a simple, “yes.”

Now what?

When I reached adulthood, I went to therapy. It worked. The worst anxiety hit the road, but generalized anxiety remained. I had to control things to feel safe. And since I was claustrophobic, the first thing to go was getting on a plane.

In time, my life had shrunk to such a degree that I decided to suck it up and go for my dreams. To live the more carefree, big life I knew I was meant to live.

Like, what was the worst that could happen?

That I’d be trapped in fear for all of eternity? I was already trapped. It was just in my familiar surroundings.

So I pretended to be brave. Decided to become a New and Better Me.

I pretended for so long that one day I looked around and thought, “Jesus, I’m a sniveling coward, yet it seems I’m stronger than a lot of people around me.” My next thought was, “Lord, if this is what tough looks like then we’re in for a world of hurt down here.

Many of us are lonely. We’re operating at a deficit of love. Of feeling worthy. Of being heard.

Here’s to you too if you’re sucking it up to become a New and Better You. If you’re already there, I hope you know that you are a leader, and that leaders have a responsibility to lift the next person up. Because having heart for others is the only way out of this mess, for our world will evolve to a joyful place.

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