In The Name of Safety... or Everything I Would Have Missed
People have been telling me all my life that I can't do things... because I was a child, because I was a girl, because I was young, because I was beautiful, because I was unrefined, because I was inexperienced... the list goes on.
They tried to build a box around me. They called it a house, and promised it was there for my protection.
They said, "You will get hurt." and "It's not worth it." and "Trust me."
The things people will give up in the name of safety.
I didn't listen. Not the first time, or any other. The more times I was told I couldn't, the more I was determined to.
Here is a list of all the things I would have missed, if I stayed in the box they built for me:
1. Love - oh, so much love. Yes, my heart broke more than once. And yes, it was worth it ever single time. I was 14 the first time that I loved and broke. But I wouldn't be who I am, or know what I know about love, if I hadn't started then. If I hadn't let myself fall, blindly, unrestrained, too young to be jaded. You might think love that young isn't real. But I know better. At that age, love is more pure and true than ever after. Things are simpler and people aren't all blocked up yet. You can love without fear, without intent, without expectation. Forever after, you have to work for that kind of love. But as a child, love like that comes naturally.
2. Friendship - Did you know girls gossip about other girls? They spread rumors and generally act like they secretly hate each other? Yea. I did. I am not one of those girls... I am the girl they were talking about, though. Over and over, people asked me, "Why do you still hang out with her?" and "Doesn't that bother you?" My answers? "Because it's fun." and "No." Bottom line: that behavior is a reflection of the person acting that way, not of the person they are talking about. Which, to me, meant that girl was hurting. She was insecure. She needed love. That girl needed my friendship much more than the girls who didn't gossip about me. And I got a lot of fun time, shopping trips, sleep overs, and outings with those girls. The things they said when I couldn't hear them didn't hurt me, and I wasn't going to let it hurt them anymore than it already had. Stop the cycle of abuse, don't feed it. You hold that power.
3. Travel - I saw parts of North Carolina, Oregon, Mississippi, California, parts of Florida, beaches, mountains, theme parks, resorts, camp grounds, farms, vineyards, cities, countrysides... and I would have missed it all if I'd listened when they told me it was a bad idea.
4. Experiences - I got drunk with my friends, rode down the Russian River in a tube, smoked medical grade cannabis, slept under the stars, watch sunsets and rises, had sex in public places, built a greenhouse, planted veggies, slept on a greyhound, flew across the country, got lost alone in LAX, saw movies for free, trespassed in creepy, beautiful places, climbed mountains and trees, taught crafts and archery, learned how to rock climb, inspired kids, sang countless songs around countless campfires, snuck in and out of houses, danced on a pole while people threw money at me, walked the Golden Gate Bridge, went to sporting events and concerts, rode in fast cars, had a baby, built a business, taught myself graphic design, played in the rain, skinny dipped in the ocean, worked with women all over the world... and the list goes on. I got to experience the kinds of things that stay with you; the kinds of things that change you. The kinds of things that make you see the world and all humanity through new eyes, eyes more compassionate, and honest, and forgiving. Eyes that are hungry and curious. Eyes that don't settle, and don't want to see anyone else settle either.
I learned a lot of things, but the most important of all was that all anyone really wants is love. And unfortunately, they are convinced that the only way to get it is to make themselves as small and easy as possible. But that is simply not true. That's what I was told to do, and I would have missed out on so much love - in all it's forms - had I not had the audacity to say no. No I will not be small. No I will not be easy. No I will not make myself fit into your story. I'm writing my own. And I'm finding love around every turn because instead of playing it safe, I'm playing it open.
I could have stayed in my safe, cozy bedroom, staring out the window, daydreaming about the life I lived vicariously through books and television shows and movies. Or, I could leave my safe haven, the protection of my parents, my safety net, and leap.
So I lept. Sometimes I splattered on the sidewalk, and other times, I was caught. But other times still, the absolute best of times, I soared. And I never would have known how to fly if I stayed safe. If I'd lived within my comfy, cozy bubble and did as I was told, I would have been taken care of, but I never would have lived. And that is worth all the risk, because in those most terrifying, up-in-the-air moments, the ground looks impossibly far away, but reward shines the brightest, you can taste it. In that moment, it's much more painful to land than to keep going. If you were on your way to Paris, you wouldn't settle for the middle of the ocean. So take the leap and flap those wings like your life depends on it.