I was thinking earlier today, “At the end of my life, if I looked back on who I am today, would I be proud? Would I be excited?”
There was a long phase (ie: ages 12 through 23) that I lived a life less-lived. I was afraid and insecure and didn’t think I was strong enough to take the world head on like I really wanted to. And I used to think, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll be strong enough.”
But “tomorrow” felt the same as today, and I said, “Tomorrow,” again.
At the time I looked at those years of my life as an embarrassment; how could I have been that stagnant? But now I just look back at those years as lessons learned. I can, and am going to, live my life now. No more “tomorrows.”
So today as I rolled the thought over and over in my head, I thought about how if I had continued to live my life so blandly, I would not be proud of the person I was; I would not be excited to retell the stories of those years. I mean, what would there be to tell? What would be worth retelling?
The nights I spent crying because I felt like no one would ever think I was beautiful or ever fall in love with me? They wouldn’t add anything positive to any conversation.
The breaths I wasted complaining about things without ever doing anything to change them? They would only highlight my weakness.
There would be nothing to tell, and that is certainly not what I would want to leave this world.
I won’t pretend that I just woke up one morning with an epiphany biting at my every neuron, my body bleeding adrenaline and fearlessness and things changed that day. What is more of my reality is a series of sometimes small and slow steps, some I made all on my own and others I made at the strong pushing of others, that are continually making my life something I would be proud to retell, excited to relive.
I said, “Yes,” when most people thought I should have said, “No.”
I looked in the mirror and finally saw that I was killing myself and worked to lose 80 lbs. of insecurity, pain, and embarrassment.
I hopped on a plane and moved thousands of miles away from everything I had ever known.
I looked into his eyes and promised to love him forever. And meant it.
I became a big part of children’s lives and allowed them to become a part of my heart.
I danced the night away in a crowd of strangers and didn’t give a second thought to how awkward I may have looked.
It took me a long time to truly believe my life was worth living. It took me a long time to take steps forward instead of side-steps or no steps at all.
And now I can say that when I look back on my life, I’ll look back on a life well-lived, and not a life less-lived. All the mistakes, all the laughs, all the hurdles, all the accomplishments, all the tears, all the stolen breaths, all the foot-in-mouths, all the moments that will make up my life…they will make me alive.
And that is success.