If there’s one thing I know, it’s the power of choice. The power of looking at a situation, with all its flaws and potential disasters and difficulties, and choosing it anyway. Sometimes, it’s so easy to look at a situation and get scared, because of how difficult it is or how much might go wrong. It’s incredibly daunting.
Sometimes, too, the idea of actually getting what you want is terrifying too. Because it almost always involves an upheaval. No decision, no fight, is devoid of change. It’s impossible to think otherwise. And let’s face it: change can be the adult version of the Boogeyman. Because there are so many variables that can’t be accounted for, so many unknowns.
And that’s why there are times when we allow ourselves to stay where we are, doing what we’ve always done, even when we’re miserable. Even when we know that it isn’t healthy, that it doesn’t make us happy.
Fear is a strange monster. Sometimes, it is as subtle as a whisper. Other times, it’s a shout—someone or something hitting a nerve in you that’s always raw. An old wound never quite healed, always so close to breaking open, a piece of yourself you’re forever struggling to protect. This old hurt can be aggravated by so many things, seemingly reaffirmed by circumstances. Because, honestly, there are times in life where it feels like nothing is going right and everything is impossible. And it’s so much easier to retreat than fight, because we are emotionally exhausted. Beat down. Disheartened.
So, the fear creeps in just at the right time to make you feel…hopeless. To play on your insecurities in such a way that you start to believe that torrent of bad things in front of you, the heaps of mistakes, all the ways things haven’t worked out before. But history is not how we measure the future—it’s what we learn from.
The saddest thing in the world, to me, is someone who has given up. The look in a friend’s eyes that says, “It doesn’t get better than this. This is how things are always going to be.” Don’t get me wrong: I both hate fighting and change. And it’s always a gamble to gear up for a battle, to take steps toward something knew. You look ahead and see a million what-ifs, and it can be suffocating.
But that’s what your fear wants you to see and feel. The truth is that, sometimes, people like to keep us still, doing whatever they can to root us to a place. Because it’s easier for them. Because can’t bear to entertain the idea of something more. And, well, I don’t ever want that to be you—I don’t ever want you to find yourself entrenched in a situation and think it can’t change, that it can’t get better.
Rest assured, it can. As long as you don’t give up. It can be scary as all hell to stand up for what you want, what you believe in. Standing up for yourself is hard. There’s always going to be someone who wants to keep you small, keep you hurting, keep you guilty. They’re going to use that power over you to get what they want.
That person deserves a house dropped on their heads and their shoes stolen. Because that person isn’t nice. And sometimes, it is hard to recognize that kind of manipulation. It’s hard to recognize that kind of villain for a million reasons. But don’t allow yourself to be gaslit into thinking a situation is all your fault. Or that you’ll never be able to accomplish [insert dream here]. Take your power back, and remember how to fight, remember who you are.
You are made of stars. You cannot be contained.
I’ve said this before, but: life is full of battles. You decide what you’re going to fight for, but here’s the kicker: you’ve always got to fight for yourself. It isn’t easy. It’s like hopping over crocodiles to get to the other side of a river. And maaaaaybe there’s a lion waiting there. But maybe your hope for this life is waiting there too.
And it helps to have someone in your corner. Someone who looks at you when you’re being an idiot and tells you the truth, even though it’s not pretty. Even when it is through tears. Someone who sees you for who you are, especially on the days when you cannot see yourself.
Life is finite. There’s no way to guess when the sand’s going to run out. I have been reminded of this so fiercely, lately. Time is short. Life is short. Spend it loving. But more so? Allow yourself to be loved. Don’t close yourself off, because in an off-the-wall distortion you’re justifying it as “easier.” Don’t let your past get in the way of this moment, right now.
Fight for what you want. And, if it’s applicable, allow yourself to be fought for. You can put up as many walls as you like, you can put as much distance as possible between yourself and something/someone else. But all the walls and all the distance in the world doesn’t change facts—and it certainly doesn’t change feelings.
You were not built to play it safe, darlings.
To Everyone I Love ~
Yes, you. That means you. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since we’ve spoken. It could’ve been yesterday. It could’ve been three minutes ago. It could’ve been six months ago. That doesn’t ‘matter, because I love you. And if I love you, you’ve made my world a better place—because that’s what love does. Mind you, I did not say you’ve made it a perfect place. Anyone who wants perfection doesn’t want love. Because love and life are messy and complicated if you’re doing it right. This includes friendship-based loved. (Shoutout to all my Galentines!)
Love is a labyrinth that, once you wander into, you never quite find your way out of it. It can be kind of confusing sometimes. But it makes the world a brilliant kaleidoscope of glitter and wonder. And for that, I thank you. Because while life is often littered with hard times, it helps to have things that sparkle, memories that remind us to dance, and that unmistakable magic that love conjurers.
Love also guarantees several things from me. One: I will be there on the bad days more fiercely than on the good ones. It is easy to stay when things are wildly wonderful. But we often need people the most when things are dark and awful, and we end up doubting our worth. So, my promise is this: when you are feeling alone and awful, perhaps like nothing will be right again and you’ve mucked everything up—I will be there. This may through a text, an email, an in-person hug. I may bake your brownies or kiss you. Chances are there will be cute animal photos involved, and I will try and get you drunk and certainly make you laugh. Love means someone has your back. That’s me, kitten.
Two: I will smite your enemies. Okay, not really. I don’t actually have a dragon. But if someone has wronged you, hurt you, and/or otherwise mistreated you, I will be your shoulder to cry on. I will show you the way to the punching bag. I will not let them sit with us at lunch. And if given the chance/opportunity, I will let them know exactly why they are a feeble-minded assclown of a human. See, love isn’t always kittens and rainbows, unicorns and sunshine. Sometimes, love is a sharp knife and a fierce growl. And there are always moments when we are hurting so poorly that we cannot protect ourselves. That’s where I come in. I may be little, but I am a badass when needed.
Three: You cannot scare me away. No matter what you think is too ugly, too awful, too hard to look and impossible to stomach—give it here. I don’t want shiny and convenient. I’m not looking for a neatly arranged and fitted puzzle. There’s no hell or high water that can burn or flood out my affections, so don’t worry about that. I don’t run. I never run. Unless it’s toward something. There’s no judgment, no scale, no measure. I don’t flinch.
Four: I will show up. It doesn’t matter if it’s a convenient time. It doesn’t matter if I have to wait in a parking lot or sit in front of Skype until you call. It doesn’t matter if we haven’t spoken in years, if you say you need me, if you say you need help, then I will be there. Love means I will show up, still in my PJs and wearing my glasses, without any makeup at 2am. Love means I will listen to you talk about work problems. Love means I will probably show up with food, because I am Italian. I really can’t help it. Food is love.
I don’t use the word love lightly. There are so many different kinds of love, different levels and types. But it’s like ice cream: no matter what, still good. Because fundamentally, it’s awesome. Rest assured, if I’ve ever told you I love you, I do. Absolutely. Without question. This does not shift or lessen, nor does it dull or vanish.
Today is a day about love. It’s commercial as hell, I know. It can leave people aching. It can leave people wanting. It can lead to too much thinking, tears, and sadness. I don’t think that love can be wrapped up or summed up by a day, or even a gesture involving roses and chocolate. Don’t get me wrong: I will always accept roses and chocolate. Every day of the year. Love is demonstrated in a billion different ways. Sometimes, the most meaningful are the ones that don’t look like much from the outside.
A random text. A cup of hot chocolate. A T-shirt. An email. Making someone a sandwich after a long day. It doesn’t have to be huge or expensive. In fact, the simplest things often have much more meaning and impact than what’s grand. Keep your necklaces and wrapping paper. Give me something unexpected from the bottom of your heart. Make me laugh. Remind me of an inside joke. Ask how I am in a way that shows me you’re really asking, really interested in listening.
But back to the point: I love you. Maybe I haven’t said that to you in a while. Maybe you’ve feeling particularly unlovable right now. Maybe we grew up together, and moved away, and it’s been a decade since I’ve seen your face. Doesn’t matter.
I still love you. So, no matter what is going on in your life today, no matter who may or may not be in it, no matter if you’re attached or unattached—remember that you are loved. Remember that you are valued. Remember that someone appreciates and sees you, for exactly who you are and exactly as you are.
Happy Valentine’s Day, darlings. May you know that you are worth it.