“What’s comin’ will come and we’ll meet it when it does.” -Hagrid

Becoming the person you are meant to be is not an easy task.

I am learning that figuring myself out is hard and painful, not because I don’t love who I’m becoming–because I do–but because that means I have to visit soft, vulnerable, and sometimes broken spaces. This means facing difficult truths, even when you don’t mean to. It means that you’ll find yourself in the parking lot of an ice cream shop in the middle of the day with a brown paper bag wrapped pint of your favorite sorbet because you just need to be alone, to sit in the quiet, and to breathe.

Brene Brown writes, “I’m not who I thought I was supposed to be or who I always pictured myself being.” I think that is a moment of realization that anyone can sympathize with–that terrifying moment when you step back and realize you’re not in the place you thought you’d be. At that point, you can decide to stay scared and freeze, or you can decide to face the fear and find a new map–or even create your own. Sometimes losing our direction can take us to daring new places we wouldn’t have known existed had we not gone off the beaten path.

Over the past few months, every aspect of my life has begged for me to be vulnerable and yet stay intentional. I realize how strange those words look together, but it started to make sense after a while; there’s no reason to flop mindlessly in vulnerability, and it’s hard to be intentional without looking at your goals–the true desires of your heart–because you have to be vulnerable enough to at least be honest with yourself.

Honest with yourself. Those words have been a fresh slap in the face on a regular basis. At first, you wonder how you could be dishonest with yourself, but trust me when I say that you can tell yourself a lot of lies, and you can do it without realizing it. I tell myself the same lies over and over again in some form or fashion:

  1. I can do everything.
  2. This one is so hilariously humiliating and incorrect. I bite off more than I can chew, and I continue to chew and chew and chew (and take more bites) even if I start to choke. Nothing gets done this way. I just get overloaded and sick.
  3. I can do everything ON MY OWN.
  4. Humans are community animals; we need each other daily. Jessicas are not exceptions to this rule.
  5. You can’t hurt me.
  6. We are not meant to carry around heavy armor to protect ourselves because the logic in hiding is flawed. We will become worn down, bitter, and unfeeling by carrying around armor. And it doesn’t work. There’s always ammo that will find a weak chink in the metal, no matter what it is forged in. It will come like a thief in the night and will pierce so deeply you will be unable to breathe. We will never find a safe place if we are always hiding. And we, as humans, need each other. We cannot do life together if we are hiding.
  7. Perfection is everything.
  8. Perfection is a lie, and it will destroy you. The journey is the point– the messy, constantly growing and evolving, doing better, trying harder, loving bigger sort of adventure is exactly the adventure that will get us back to life.

I was catching up with my friend Richard on Thursday night, and we were talking. I was in the middle of saying something, and his pensive face came on– I immediately knew he was about to ask an uncomfortable question (this is why I love him–he asks thought-provoking questions, no matter how much he knows you might stumble over the answer).

“Why do you do that?” He asked, and I shook my head.

“Do what?” I had no idea what he meant.

“Pretend like your hurt or your problems don’t matter. They’re never that bad. You always have to qualify that every time. Why?” And at that point, I didn’t have an answer. It was one thirty in the morning and I’d hurt my leg pretending to be melting butter in m chair. It wasn’t until I was driving home in my silent car that it dawned on me–I don’t think I’m worthy.

Suddenly a dozen smaller conversations came into my mind’s eye, all pointing to the same theme, though a little more subtly. It occurs to me that this is true– I hide because I’m afraid. I don’t think my problems matter because somewhere along the line, I forgot that I matter. And I do. But if enough rocks get thrown at your ship and you don’t know how to defend against them, and you don’t take the time to repair, your ship will start to take on water. So we try to quick fix with perfection and glorified busy-ness, but the fact still remains; at some point, you have to acknowledge and patch the holes– not just paint over them–or the ship will completely sink.

You will sink.

First and foremost, we must patch the holes. Patch them well and fully, consulting whoever is deemed necessary for a healthy, solid patch. Repeat until the leaks slow and you stop taking in water. Sometimes the patch takes time to fully set.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself that you are valuable, worthy, and worth loving.

Because these things are true.

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