It’s Complicated, and I Like it That Way
When you’re young, it’s easy to be fearless. You haven’t suffered any wrenching losses or had a broken heart; you’ve not yet experienced a failed business opportunity or a divorce.
As you age, you have unpleasant experiences, and it hurts. It’s easy to lose your courage and withdraw into your house or yourself. You can get stuck in a rut and even if you’re not happy it’s familiar and the familiar is comforting. You want to be safe and wrap yourself in a cocoon so that no one and nothing can ever hurt you again.
I understand that feeling because, over the years, I became guarded. Life dealt me some painful blows, and I retreated. No is a word that I am all too familiar with. No to the dinner invitation, or the blind date. No to the PTA meeting, or the side job. No, I don’t want to join that group or go to that party. Over time, my life became dull, and I became isolated, so I wondered how my life might change if I started saying yes.
• Yes to taking a chance on myself or someone else
• Yes to a business opportunity
• Yes to vulnerability and uncertain outcomes
• Yes to God and faith and all that it adds to my life
• Yes to moving forward instead of being transfixed by the rearview mirror
• Yes to being myself even if that’s not who anyone else wants me to be
• Yes to telling the truth, and not just the pretty parts, but all of it
• Yes to second chances and first dates
• Yes to going to places without an itinerary and staying up past my bedtime
• Yes to breaking my routine, and leaving the office for lunch
• Yes to going outside, feeling the sun on my face and letting the wind mess up my hair
• Yes to pursuing my passions instead of just surviving
Lately, I’ve been saying yes, and here is what I’ve learned: yes is scary, and yes is messy, but yes is living. Some of the best experiences of my life happened when I thought, I can’t, I won’t, it’s too scary, it’s too hard, the outcome is unclear – and then I did it anyway. Sometimes, I laughed so hard I wet myself. Sometimes, I met someone so exceptional that I couldn’t imagine how I existed before them. Sometimes, wishes I had barely dared to imagine came true.
Sometimes, yes leads to wonderful surprises. Other times, it leads to heartbreak and regret. There is a risk in yes, and it does not always pay off. But there is something to be learned from every tear, every rage, and every defeat. There is something to be learned from the people that I wish I had never met. Pain doesn’t feel good, but at least it reminds me that I’m alive, because I feel something. So I value my mistakes because I had experiences, I made memories, and I learned what not to do next time. That is something, dear readers; perhaps that is everything.
Having children was one of the scariest things that I’ve ever done, and I was utterly unprepared for it. It has been complicated indeed! My children have cost me money, time, and sleep; they have messed up my house and my plans and caused me anxiety and stress. But they have added affection, unconditional love, laughter, wonder, and purpose to my life. They are the inspiration for every right choice that I make, and they are the reason that I survive the wrong choices. Having them has cost me dearly, but they have given much more than they have taken. Like falling in love, parenting is a huge, terrifying risk, but it’s also an adventure that makes life worthwhile.
So today I encourage you to say yes to something that makes you uncomfortable. Something that you’re not sure about, or you don’t feel adequately equipped for. Maybe you’ll discover a new passion, a new talent, or a new friend. Maybe you’ll laugh. Maybe you’ll fall madly in love, or maybe you’ll crash and burn, but at least you’ll have a story to tell.
“I went home, watched Netflix and went to bed” isn’t a great story. So write a new one! Say yes next time your first instinct is to say no, and see what adventure awaits.
Do you find yourself saying no more often than you say yes? Could it be that fear of the unknown is robbing you of some worthwhile experiences?