I’m kicking off my eighteenth year of life by reflecting on my seventeenth which was full of a heck of a lotta growth. Seventeen was an important year because it was a bold year. It was the year I decided I was only going to grow if I did things out of my comfort zone. I started talking to all kinds of new people, writing, goofing off in public, and caring just a little less of what everyone thought. It’s an ongoing process that I’m having to fight for everyday, because its not easy to stop people pleasing and doing things because YOU know they are right, even when no one else really understands it. Type 2 enneagrams, ya feel? This year, I narrowed it down to ten small things I did that scared me but instead of running away from that fear, I danced with it!!!!!! (thank you Ben Rector for not only that song but that entire album).
1. I planned an entire friend trip by myself in Austin. I drove, we crashed on a couch for two nights, and kicked off summer by exploring Austin for three days by ourselves. It was scary because I was in a new area trying to have it all figured out, but time away from home to explore new things is so fun because you find out what you like!!! We danced our way through the ATX and didn’t really care who saw.
2. Speaking of dancing, I bought 5 concert tickets last year. 3 of those 5 times I bought the ticket without knowing who would go with me or if someone would go with me! This scared me because I am planner and it makes me a little crazy when I don’t have my ish together but there are such moments of joy when you decide to do something spontaneous like singing and jumping with a group of strangers you just met to genuinely good music that has a type of meaning to it. Something personal and deep in the lyrics that when heard live makes you feel something deep, which can be uncomfortable but feeling is part of living so these concerts were a type of LIFE that consisted of living in the moment to just feel something!! such raw authenticity without distraction. Lots of joy.
3. I jumped off a cliff into the lake. This one was the hardest because unlike most irrational fears, there were risk involved. Okay not really but kinda?? Maybe there was a sharp rock at the bottom!! It took physical action which made the physical jumping into new opportunities so much harder but also a greater symbolism of going feet first into what scares you the most- whatever those mysterious deep waters may be. I sat there like an 8 year old just staring down until I saw an ACTUAL 8 year old jump off this 20 something foot cliff then my pride got the best of me and forced me to jump. The freedom of breaking that barrier of irrational fear made me realize the irrationality of fear and how strong of a grip it can have in withholding us from opportunities to experience life. I jumped off that dang cliff so many more times and am counting down the days until I can do it again (warm weather I miss you)
4. My tennis team went undefeated this year and that had so much to do with our energy. Building that energy was the scary part. You see, I’ve always been an internally goofy person, like once you get to know me type of goofy, but I never vocalized it as a kid so I was never used to being loud. I never wanted to share my ideas or jokes because I minimized their importance, which is so unhealthy because everyone has the potential to contribute to each others perspectives by sharing such ideas and experiences. I wanted to hide that I was loud, and silly, and smart because I didn’t want to be judged and years later I still struggled with that on the court. Because of this I’d keep it in and watch it build up and transform into frustration and anxiety. SO in district finals, something came over me that fear would not continue to control my emotions. I went up to my doubles partner and said, girl we’re getting loud and excited and if Boys doubles 1 can’t hear us we aren’t loud enough. We spent the match cheering for our teammates and celebrating our good shots and we won 6-2 6-3 against girls who never beat us. I was overjoyed the whole match about just how much I love that sport. Did there moms get mad that we were so excited? Yes, but it was positive energy and not derogatory, so I told myself it was okay they didn’t like me. Which for my people pleasing self took a lot of boldness.
5. I grew up with a speech impediment that made it hard to talk, and I’m 98% over it. It took over a part of my childhood, and enrolling in public speaking for my senior year of high school was basically a big declaration of “screw you speech impediment you dont have power over me anymore!!” I’m rocking this class, but having to talk everyday when I grew up never wanting to speak is still scary. I’m embracing the silly inside of me that hid for so long, and truly, I’m proud.
6. I’m a coffee person because I’m a people person. Some people just think I have a weird obsession with caffeine, and I guess they are half right but I’m not letting opinions like that control the true reason why I like coffee shops so dang much. PEOPLE!! People everywhere!! Talking, laughing, studying, ah this sounds creepy the more I type it. My local coffee shop has a weekly email chain where all you gotta do to get free coffee is read the encouraging email and answer a question. A vulnerable question. Yikes. But you know, a student has to take advantage of anything free, so I started studying at coffee shops and opening up a little to my barista about whatever the question was. Questions like What failures have you grown from? How do you make your work culture more positive? Sing a song from Hamilton (y’all I don’t sing but for free coffee a girls gotta do what she’s gotta DO). It forced me to open up to people and y’all. People are magic. Encouragement is power and we have so much to give each other. I’ve started to become a little more open and admire people for what they do right, even though I’m human and constantly fall short of that goal. I’ve become a little more vulnerable and have watched myself grow from knowing the different people I’ve met in coffee shops and in life, and hopefully I’ve contributed to their story a little bit too.
7. My college decision was the most I’ve ever opened myself up to judgement, and there’s been a lot of it. Long story short, I’ve known I was going to do medicine since third grade when I’d make ice bags for my clumsy sister and whip out the bottle of Bactine when homegirl got all scratched up. I fell in love with the number one public premedical University- University of North Carolina- but was super discouraged when I found out the had not only a 24 percent acceptance rate but an 18% student body capacity for out of staters like me (turned out to be an 11% acceptance rate for OOS). I read forums of kids with perfect test scores, valedictorians, overachievers, all declined or waitlisted. I wanted to give up but I knew I belonged there, so I applied. It was scary applying out of state and feeling called across the country, but I knew if I got in I was lucky to have the opportunity to go, so I went for it. Even though UNC was a top 5 public school and has this program, I received lots of feedback with a negative connotation Feedback like “why UNC thats so random, are you sure” or “do you really think you can live so far away” or “why would you ever leave Texas”. Deciding to leave what I know and explore a new place and top education was a scary consideration, but when I surprisingly was accepted, it was the quickest and scariest yes I ever said. It’s still scary, but its what I’m supposed to do, so I’m being bold and chasing after it.
8. New state = new friends. Facebook and Insta have been my go tos for new UNC friends, but its always awkward reaching out to people and totally putting yourself out there to be flat out REJECTED man!! Like ouchie!!! I forced myself to slide into some dms to make some gal pals!! and as always boldness seems to pay off!! I have a roomie!! People are people, and I learned that as much as I would love for someone to reach out and want to be friends, someone else would probably love that as well. We’re all people who need people, so why not just go for it!!! Go make some new gal pals!
9. We’ll keep this one short. I hate dating because I don’t like opening up. I made myself go on dates. Ah. At least I have some funny stories now, but I also have a higher self confidence about meeting new people!! Woooohoooo
10. I decided I am worth more than the back burner, so I had to leave some toxic friendships at seventeen. I was tired of being used only for homework help or to lift someone up without mutual investment, so leaving when its hard but its right was a bold move. I grew into a wide array of people who love me for silly goofy ME!!! It’s the healthiest I have ever been.