I’m having a panicked, teary-eyed, blurry moment where I’m afraid I’ll never be able to write again. I’m afraid the words will never again pour easily, but awkwardly instead, and land on the page with a horrible thud.
But when I say I’m afraid to write, what I really mean is this:
I’m afraid to feel.
Because what is writing — other than feeling? Hell, what is living — other than feeling?
A tear rolls down my cheek ever so slowly that I quickly wipe away. And I do the thing that often feels like the scariest thing in the world:
My tender heart opens, peeling back each petal-like layer gently, and I feel.
I glance around the crowded cafeteria where I write this, and I feel.
I feel my own sh*t. I feel the electric pulses of fear that drill into my gut with agonizing precision. I feel a slew of awkwardness and self-doubt. I feel the tears I always try not to cry. I feel the weight of this sparkly smile I’ve spent years hiding behind. And yes, I really mean years.
I feel other people, too. Complete strangers and people I know dearly.
I glance up and see an adorable baby’s bright blue eyes, and I feel his boundless curiosity. I feel a young girl’s confusion and shyness masked with a smile, her suffering tucked elegantly into the pockets of her bright yellow shirt. I feel the extreme exhaustion of a mother sitting next to her four small children trying to keep it together.
Then I see what looks like the regrets of an elderly woman, her wrinkles indicative of a thousand memories made, a life lived, a heart broken, children raised — yet a palpable amount of uncertainty remains in the creases of her forehead. I think, maybe she’s still not sure if she did the right things or made the right choices in her long journey.
Maybe she never found her way — maybe she’s lost. Maybe I am, too.
It’s not pretty — it rips me right open — but it’s medicine for my heart. It’s so real. And goddammit, I need real. We all need real. We do so many elaborate, busy things to avoid feeling, to avoid what’s real, to avoid truly seeing others — and oh boy, yes —to avoid facing ourselves.
What if we stopped avoiding and started feeling?
Sure, roll your eyes if you need to, but consider it anyway. Consider what beauty would happen if you stopped looking away from your own depth of heart.
What if we worked up the subtlest bravery to feel our sh*t — all of it — our grief, our pain, our longing, our hope, our deepest confusion, our heartbreak, our dreams, our passions?
Even though that might sound impossible and overwhelming, it’s not. It doesn’t need to be. It’s very possible and wildly necessary. We can all feel, right now. And we can taste the extraordinary benefits of doing exactly that.
For we are not automated robots, at all — we are born to feel. We are embossed in thrashing emotion. Even though we walk around confidently and act convincingly like productive puppets who know what we are doing — we don’t have a f*cking clue most of the time. Most of the time, we’re stumbling and struggling.
And isn’t that a beautifully fragile, wonderfully vulnerable, magnificently human thing?
I challenge us all to weep and laugh and taste the luscious fragility of being human.
Maybe it won’t feel comfortable. Maybe it will be painful — maybe it will ache and burn and we will feel terror or doubt or joy — or some glorious, messy mixture of all three.
Then let us feel it. Let us feel it all.
Because even when feeling hurts or seems downright unbearable — it’s inherently healing. It’s grounding; solidifying; revealing. It is truth itself. It’s oozing poetry and gritty hope and delicious art in the making.
Much like that elderly woman I saw, I feel uncertain of so much.
I don’t feel confident or put together or shiny. Ever.
But I wonder if human beings are actually supposed to feel confident or put together or shiny. Maybe awkwardness and vulnerability and honest-to-goodness emotion are way juicier than a mask of stony confidence could ever be.
Because the more I live, the more my heart gets broken open, the more truth I taste — the more I realize that the simplest, earth-shatteringly vulnerable moments are the only things we have.
They’re utterly precious.
They are the moments when we allow ourselves to be fully human; when we spill out the bullsh*t dance of trying to hold everything so tightly together.
As I glance back across the cafeteria, I notice the elderly woman has gone. She’s been replaced by a different face, perched similarly in the exact same seat.
And yet, what connects these two women who will likely never meet is the look of confused uncertainty in their eyes. The uncertainty that is reflected, too, in my own eyes.
The gorgeous, gut-wrenching uncertainty of being utterly human.
The uncertainty we all feel, every single day.
We don’t need to walk around and try so hard to pretend to be confident. We don’t need to bulls*it ourselves into believing we have it all figured out.
To be vulnerable, to be honest, to be real, to stumble, to fall, to share genuinely and admit we just don’t know, to f*ck up, to feel —
It’s all we have.
It’s utterly precious.
Feeling is the medicine we forgot we needed.
And at the end of the day…we CAN feel.