The wind blows and I squint my eyes against the swirling red Oklahoma dirt. Hold my hat to keep it from blowing off my head. Without thinking I start humming the tune to “Oklahoma”, you know the one. Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain? These last few weeks have felt like constant wind. Something always blowing me backward, a bit of dust always in my eyes. Just a little uncomfortable.
That’s because decisions are being made. My decisions. Choices about who I want to be in this life, things I want to do, how I want to be remembered. Choices that mean taking care of myself, nurturing my gifts, and being brave. Decisions make me nervous.
This is all new to me. For over 10 years I’ve been a wife and a mom and that’s all. At least those roles have been my main ones. And even before the husband and the kids came along, I never put much stock in my dreams, in myself really. I did enough to get by, never really excelling in anything. It’s hard to write those words out, but it’s true. I was afraid to stand out in any way that was different.
If you’d asked me in high school what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would’ve given you the stock answer: Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Veterinarian. None of those things were me, though. While all noble professions and each with their own challenge, none of them made my heart skip a beat or gave me a rush of excitement when I thought about them. But that’s what everyone else was saying, so I went along with it. Those were cool, smart things. Things that, in our high school minds, would make us rich. Those were the things that mattered.
Then college came. Ha! College. I only finished 2 years because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to be. I jumped from major to major without serious consideration (thought I think I had it right the first time: English). In the middle of my second year I got married and had a baby. Being a mom is something I always dreamed about, so staying home with my son was a no-brainer for me. I regret exactly zero of those decisions, but I do wish I had gotten to know myself back in high school. I wish I had realized the power words had over me, the beauty I found in them, the emotions they stirred up. I wish I had understood then what I would need now.
I long to look back now, as a 31 year old woman, and laugh, shaking my head over my silly thoughts and behavior. I can’t, though, because here I sit, a 31 year old woman, stuck in my childish ways and still afraid of who she is.
I’ve been afraid that my offerings won’t be good enough in this great big world filled with amazingly talented people. I’ve been afraid that I’ll labor and toil over these simple words and there will be no one to read it. I’ve been scared that I’ll put my true self out there and it won’t be wanted.
These last few weeks, though, I’ve decided. I’ve decided it doesn’t matter who reads these words, because this is when I feel alive: when the words dance from my brain through my fingertips and onto the page. And what is the point of life if we don’t feel alive? I’ve decided to be brave and write the words and spill my heart in hopes that someone else feels the same way.
While these last few weeks have felt uncomfortable and risky, they’ve been so amazing. I want to encourage you to do the same thing. What are you good at? What makes you come alive and tingle with excitement? Is there something you struggle to do, but that gives you joy and satisfaction?
It doesn’t matter if you’re not the most talented or gifted. It so does. not. matter. Each and every one of us has been given gifts for a purpose and a reason. The world needs each and every one of us to play our own notes in our own ways.
So this is me, stepping out, being honest and brave and true to myself, stepping off the wide and easy road of what-everyone-else-is-doing and, for once, searching for a narrow road I can call my own. Care to join me?