The end of the year is approaching, and like most people, this prompts me to reflect on everything the past 12 months have brought. It makes me think about where I was a year ago, how far I've traveled, and where I've ended up. It reminds me of all that I've learned. More than anything, it shows me that I am no longer afraid.
A year and a half ago, when my divorce was finalized, I was terrified. I was afraid of being alone for the rest of my life, and I questioned whether something was better than nothing. I worried that I rejected the only person who would ever love me. I feared that others would reject me in the same way. I clung to what was safe and familiar and I made some choices that I don't care to repeat.
I took a break, I regrouped, and I rebooted my life. I took chances. I traveled abroad alone for the first time. I dated - a lot. I learned how to be alone. I found new friends. I kept the old ones. I stood up for what I believed in. I failed. I succeeded. And I woke up one morning last week and I realized that I'm not afraid anymore.
I'm not afraid to hurt. I've been through a failed marriage. I know now that I can make a commitment and think that it will last forever and that it might not. I know now that this can bring loss and sadness that hurt more than I ever imagined. And I know now that I am not afraid of that loss and sadness and pain. I want love. I want a human connection. And I am willing to risk hurting and losing on the off chance that I might have love one day. I'm not afraid to hurt. I want to love.
I'm not afraid to take a risk. I know that I can do new things - hard things - on my own. I know that I won't just get through them, but that I will be better for having done them, and sometimes even enjoy them. I know that I want to experience what the world has to offer. I know that I will never be 31 years old and single and childless again. I'm not afraid to take a risk. I want to live.
My life isn't going to live itself. And I'm not waiting for someone else to jump start it anymore.
I'm signing up for a roller derby rec league next month. I haven't worn roller skates in 20 years, and I will probably be horrible and embarrass myself terribly and I don't care, because I want to experience it and know that I've done it. And if I hate it then I can quit. But at least I'll have done it.
I'm traveling to Paris for two weeks this spring. I'm going to book a flight and rent an apartment and wander the streets of one of the world's most picturesque cities all alone, on my terms, because I can. I'm not afraid of getting lost or accidentally ordering escargots when I meant to order a latte or even being scared and confused in a foreign country and having to fly home early. I would rather have any one of those things happen - or all of them - than feel like I'm not living.
I'm going to keep opening myself up to love. As much as it hurts sometimes - the anticipation and the hope followed by the disappointment and the sadness - I'm going to keep doing it. Because in the process I'm learning about myself and becoming more myself, and those are good things. I hope that there will be something great at the end of it. That something may or may not last, but I'll have gained the knowledge and the tools along the way to give it the best chance possible. And even if it doesn't last, at least I will have known joy and truly loved.
I'm not afraid to try any of these things.
I'm not afraid to fail at all of them.
I'm not afraid.