I am trying out this new thing. It is called “being grown.” I didn’t necessarily choose to be grown at any particular point, rather – it chose me, because being “not grown” was not working out too well for me. I tried to be not grown for a minute; it was a good minute too, but most pronounced for about a few months in between “fearless” and whatever-the-hell-it-is-I’m-supposed-to-be-now. Oh yeah: Grown. Grown means for me something that I didn’t expect. I didn’t know until I reached it that I was spending a lot of time and energy trying to stay behind in “fearless,” in a place that I didn’t realize at the time I could no longer inhabit because of my very own efforts.
Fearless is a space that I have occupied for about five years, roughly from the time I was 20 to well, now. (I’m 25 now). Fearless was a space characterized by youth, naivety, optimism, carefree thinking, careless acting, confusion, pain. Many of these characteristics still exist for me, but differently. Fearless was a space where I was too inexperienced to know what I needed to do to take care of myself. A space where, I assumed that the worth others gave me was my true worth, not the worth that I gave myself. I wasn’t aware that they were separate at the time, so I didn’t know how to cultivate either.
Fearless brought me to many experiences in my life. Fearless brought me to a strip club at a fresh-faced twenty years old, ready to take my financial destiny into my own hands. Fearless kept me in a five-year long terribly abusive relationship that I couldn’t recognize at the outset. Fearless gave me the power to give less and less of a fuck each day about things that don’t really matter to me (which is part of the reason why I can’t live there anymore). Fearless gave me the confidence to believe that I could do anything I fucking wanted – literally ANYTHING. Fearless made me take my blessings for granted. Fearless made me unafraid.
I left the United States earlier this year, in January 2015, because I knew that there was something more. At the risk of reiterating an imperialistic narrative of “finding oneself outside of one’s borders,” I knew that staying in the United States would not only draw me out of my fearlessness, but also straight into anger, and resentment, and hate. That is a story for another day, but I was very very privileged to have the ability to leave the United States at this junction, following whatever energy that was pulling me out, or maybe just running as fast as I could from whatever energy that was pulling me in. I didn’t know what it would be that I would find, I just jumped – headfirst into the world with no fucking clue what awaited me.
Halfway through my year now, and after celebrating a trepid 25th birthday, I have found, at least, one thing out here in the world that I didn’t anticipate. I found that: I am no longer fearless. Fearlessness is part of what brought me to this point at all – I never would have sold all of my belongings, packed up what I owned into two boxes and said “fuck it” and left had I not been fearless. I have that to thank for it. And then I came out into the world and felt as if I was falling: in love, in despair, in happiness and in sorrow, and in my desperate attempts to scramble to find something to grab onto, I tried to go back to fearless. I thought that going back would save me from the exposure that I was experiencing, that I only had to understand in my mind again that I didn’t have to be afraid of anything and I would find my salvation from the ways in which the universe has gutted me and nourished me all at once. But I can’t take back the things that have happened in my life, as none of us can. I have stood in front of a Jewish settlement watching a child play on his toy bike as the children behind me didn’t even have clean water to drink. I have left emotional stab wounds in the person who bewitches me the most because of the anger and frustration I felt due to our differences. I have felt terrified high on psychedelic drugs fearing my safety after a man followed me across a city I had only been to one other time. I have pondered feelings of guilt for leaving behind my people at home whom I should be fighting in this war with. I have (still) had complicated feelings about my body for crying out loud, and that’s like, some really basic shit right there hahahaha! I have made the most amazing friends, missed my loves, been taken on food journeys of pure bliss, acquired new lovers. And while it has all been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time; finally, I am able to be in a place where I realize that I am never going back.
So this is for all of us twenty-somethings (and anyone really) who are falling in space, trying to figure out where the fuck we belong in this world. It doesn’t matter the time, the place, the people: the conditions of life and all of its pleasures and pains are with us wherever we go. The more we live, the more challenging it becomes to live exposed and open to the things around us, and to keep our hearts unblocked from the ability to give and receive love. For each step of progress that we make, there are two challenges ahead that will question that progress, things that make you think “I thought it was supposed to get easier, but I guess I was wrong.” So while I realize that there is a whole shitload of stuff that I do not know, what I do know is, that fearless was a time and place for me that I can no longer revel in; I have seen too much life, felt too much pain, and experienced too much joy to go back.
This is what I know now: I used to be fearless, and now I am brave. One day, I will be free.