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The Other Side of a River

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.

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