You are 21. You love crowds. You inhale new people, sights and sounds like fresh air. You need to be part of a collective pulse to feel safe. When you don’t keep yourself busy and surrounded, the stillness closes in and threatens you. Being alone is lonely so you keep a warm body next to you. You feel better when you can’t hear yourself think.
This is an eager, hungry year and you think you need to be seen to matter. You have to be invited, included, and involved — otherwise you feel jealous and left out. Your identity is wrapped up in how you fit into the world around you.
You think you are going to fail.
As far as you know, life is about checking boxes and keeping score. Get into this school, get these grades, marry this type of man, get this kind of job. But your reality doesn’t add up to these ideals, so you play pretend to avoid the truth. To make sure that no one else sees you fail, you hide the holes in your ship and you smile as it sinks.
Then there is the plus sign. Suddenly you’re not alone and you have to think beyond yourself. If you are not okay, he won’t be okay and you have to be brave for him. You didn’t know what it would take to pull you up and out of that sinking ship. You didn’t know that you would be saved by something so small and so helpless. There is so much you don’t know.
I’ve come to tell you to trust your circumstances, trust your accidents and the puzzles that show up in your life. There will be many more and each one will bless you immensely if you let it. Remember that love is your strength and to grow in love is your only job here. Give yourself permission to keep growing and becoming. Soon enough you will notice the difference, the weight that is lifted when you stop pretending.
You will no longer be fooled by the illusions and the fake smiles and the endless pursuit of perfection. You will seek the full swing of freedom. This may not all make sense to you now. But you are not failing. You are not sinking. Let your longing for adventure be bigger than your fears.
What you fear the most right now — solitude — will be a cocoon for you. As you transform, you will start speaking up and you will find a new kind of courage. A courage that makes you question when people try to define happiness and success for you. It’s a courage that knows to look within. You will become more accountable to yourself and less to everyone else. You won’t enjoy the rush anymore, constantly at the mercy of other people’s expectations.
You will not worry about mistakes and regrets your whole life. You will tell stories about the chances you took, the people you met, the things you created and how it all felt. You will be amazed at the life you can create with an open heart and a healthy mind. Just keep going.