I can’t tell if I’m afraid of failing or afraid of succeeding.
I’m intimately familiar with both and, because they have sometimes looked similar, I’m not sure what’s scarier. There have been times when I’m not sure which is worse. The last few years have led me down a long road through divorce and more accompanying losses than I care to remember on most days, but I’ve managed to limp “successfully” through them and have come out the other side. Whatever that means.
Some days it’s all, “I’m back bitches!”
On others, all I have in me is this thing that can acknowledge, “I’m still breathing.”
Thank God the “I’m back bitches!” outnumber the “I’m still breathing’ days lately.
I have been messy, awkward, hope-filled, scary, depressed AF, and excited in a lot of ways that sometimes feel conflicting. I have cried and raged more than I ever imagined humanly possible. I honestly believe that, because of that, I’m starting to feel alive again. I am gradually accepting the person I’m meant to become, even if I don’t completely recognize myself at times. I am in a place that demands both reflection and reformation …I both dread and revel in these seasons.
There is the very real possibility that I’m going to look back at this first post – and my life, for that matter – the way one often looks back at the pilot episode of that show they thought had promise… It started off really great, but it never quite picked up and evolved into all that they believed it could be. The plotline sucked, the writing was lackluster, the character development never really took off … But, even through all of that, that there was something intriguing and transparent, and genuine, and promising enough about it to keep you there. It scares me to think that, in some ways, that could be my life. That in some way, that could be me… I wasn’t bold enough. I didn’t trust who I was. I didn’t know where I was going. I was too much. I wasn’t enough. But that’s where I am right now and so I’m learning to be ok with that. So, why am I here? I’m pretty sure that we’re all figuring that out as we go, but here’s what I know about me in the now …
This is me articulating with a new voice.
This is me narrating my life and owning my own stories.
This is me unpacking and processing, figuring shit out as I go.
This is me creating something unexplored and hopeful after believing in, holding onto, sifting through, and relinquishing so much.
This is me looking more intently and intentionally at the things that touch and shape my world.
This is me highlighting, honoring, and giving space back to people whose words, friendship, work, passions, and life have poured into mine.
This is me reminding myself that the hard conversations are worth having, that nuance matters, and there is far more grey than there is black and white.
This is me creating catharsis.
A few years ago, I learned about the national treasure that is Octavia Butler. I’m not a Sci-Fi fan by nature, but I know it’s because so little of it spoke to me. Butler was an Afro-Futurist and a pioneer in her genre. I love how she staked her claim in a genre that was often (and STILL) dominated by white men and how her characters were most often People of Color and sheros. Let’s not forget that there’s an actual vagina on the early cover of “Dawn” … If that isn’t magical enough, I don’t know what is. But even more than what she wrote about, I love who she was and how she lived. She did this fearless and audacious, powerful and transformative thing and literally wrote her life into existence. Read it, it’ll change your world. When I first breathed it in, I broke down and cried. It was thick with wisdom and self-love, unapologetic, undeterred by life, and fearlessly focused. The very people and goals for whom it existed made it wholly unselfish. It became permanently etched into my consciousness. It became a palpable road map when I had no direction. It speaks to me everyday.
I did an Octavia Butler thing.
I must have started it a hundred times and watered it down or changed it because it all felt too unrealistic or bold or impossible. But if I’m telling you a more honest truth, I’m terrified for anyone to actually see it because it feels so unbelievably vulnerable. When we dream, we are laid bare. Wanting, longing, hoping is a vulnerable thing. Octavia’s voice was unyielding and felt so definitive and I’m not sure I’m there yet, so I’m meeting myself where I’m at …. In the same way, I hope you’ll meet yourself where you’re at. Like all of us, whatever “list” we are working on is a work in progress. But for a person who’s always wrestled with this innate fear of never being significant and not being all the things I’m supposed to somehow be at any given time, I’m reminding myself (and reminding myself often) how truly brave this is. I want to be brave. Be brave with me.
- Let my end always be people. In prayer, politics, policy, passion, and pursuits, always people.
- I will commit to work that is not only personally satisfying, but work that contributes something of need and value to others around me.
- My work and my life will contribute to the tearing down of unjust, oppressive systems. Let it bring life, not more death.
- My life and my work will enable me to care for my children in better ways. Let it help stabilize and provide for them in ways I wasn’t able to before.
- My work and my life will speak deeply into my children. Let it teach them how to live. Let it teach them how to love, to care for themselves and others, to listen, to stay teachable, to serve others, to insist on equality for all, to stay humble and merciful, how to think critically about everything, and to remember that apologies and justice are incomplete without repentance, recompense, and restoration.
- I will re-imagine life again. I will dream and be open to the travel, people, and lessons that God wants to bring into it.
- My work and my words will give, not take from the world and the generations to come.
- I will work with God and others to clear a path and open doors for Abeni and the Orange County Needle Exchange so that we can provide for our community in ways that are so desperately needed.
- I will remember that vulnerability, love, transparency, compassion, remorse, repentance, righteous rage, joy, empathy, patience, humor, ,and critical thinking are all qualities that strengthen us. I will commit to becoming stronger.
In all of this, what I’m constantly being reminded of is that the most powerful writers are the ones who makes us believe new, empowering, inspiring things about ourselves. They reimagine worlds for us. They show us other people and reframe ideas. They remind us that we can be better, do more. They model living that prioritizes other people. They move us into creativity. Their success lifts and takes others them with them. Octavia Butler did that.
And, as each of us write our lives into existence, so can we.