Taking First Steps

zebra

It’s a gift to be able to tell when something is ready. I’ve always admired people who can identify that perfect moment to quit their soul-sucking job and completely change paths, break off a relationship that leaves them feeling terrible about themselves, move to a far-off city where they don’t know a soul, take a class in something that scares the bejeezus out of them, or even just leave a karaoke bar before the mood deteriorates from Sweet Caroline to All By Myself. I’m terrible at that, all of it. I love supporting people who are on the precipice of change, who need some hand holding and cheerleading before they embark on a solo adventure to Nicaragua or run off to open a surf shop in Montauk (I don’t discriminate on goals though. If your dream of a lifetime is to become a real estate attorney, I will check out all the books on property law for you). You should hear my speech about how doors start opening for you when you’re following the right path. There may even be a part about how it’s like leaning into the yoga pose that you hate the most because the discomfort is a sign that something deserves to be strengthened.  It sounds cheesy, but it’s very inspiring; you’ll have to take my word for it.

When it comes to my own next steps, I’m much more hesitant (An image popped into my mind of my daughter poised to launch herself down a particularly steep slide when she had second thoughts, bolted toward me, and clung to my leg muttering incoherently about broken arms and bears waiting at the bottom. That’s pretty much how I feel about change.).

Given my commitment to the constraints of the known instead of the abyss of the unknown, it shocks me to think of how many times I’ve jumped right into something that truly frightened me. That person almost seems like a stranger to me. I guess I’d really like to be her though. I’d like to be someone who says “yes,” even—no especially—to things that give me goose bumps and an ache in the pit of my stomach. And so I pretend that’s who I am when it counts.

I don’t do it often (which is quite possibly a good thing given that a certain level of commitment to your present life tends to be an asset to things like marriages and parenting), but every couple of years something proves sufficiently inspiring to compel me to be another person for long enough to send me on my way. It’s like I close my eyes, hold my breath, and commit to being brave until I’ve gone too far to turn back.*

I’m holding my breath right now. It’s incredibly uncomfortable to release something into the world that really matters to me. My urge is definitely to hold this project close---to spend many more months trying to come up with the perfect way to describe it, to tweak the site until it’s all that we want it to be, and to reach a point where I don’t worry about sending it off to play with the big kids. But instead I'm being brave because it's the right thing to do.

 

*Apparently, pretending to be another person is a common theme in my life. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I have to give myself a crutch for any large gathering where I’m expected to be chat and mingle like someone who wouldn’t rather be at a quiet dinner with her nearest and dearest. I should figure out the appropriate bravery talisman and then we’ll sell them to pay for printing.