*names have been changed.
There’s a door opening in my world right now and I am petrified. I am scared of failing, of upsetting others, of realizing I’m not cut out for this new world I’m about to enter. I’m a cocktail of nervous excitement, petrified fear, buzzing electricity and wavering doubts. I am ready and yet…I am not.
Change is hard. Changing your narrative is hard. Changing your diet is hard. Changing your circumstance is hard. But nothing great ever comes from staying in place, doing the same thing.
So here I go.
My doubts over my capabilities have started to die, transforming from a burning fire of fear to banked embers of courage. Blogging has given me the oxygen to breath life into my writing and I’m forever grateful to the Kelsey of 2017 who started blogging this journey. However, my blogging journey was predominantly the fertility journey, one I was happy to share and heal from but now feels foreign and withered. When considering other stories which could have a similar impact, I was coming up blank.
How could this be? I have had many transformational experiences in my life. How could I not have another story to share? Didn’t I have something, anything, to inspire others or to help them feel less alone in whatever they were going through?
Then I started reading Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen and the words in the foreword jumped off the page and punched me in the soul: “Listening to stories also can be healing. A deep trust of life often emerges when you listen to other people’s stories. You realize you’re not alone; you’re traveling in wonderful company. Ordinary people living ordinary lives often are heroes.”
In an age of increasing loneliness, anxiety, and segregation, we all seem to seek connection. We want to be heard and we want to feel included. We need the stories. We need them like we need breath: a good story can be a sigh of relief, a breath of fresh air, an exhale you didn’t know you were holding.
So here’s a story for you:
Many years ago I had a brief relationship with a great guy, Derek*. He was kind, gentle and had amazing eyes. Sadly, we met when I was in a bad place in my life. I was on summer break from college and I wasn’t sure I would go back the following fall. I was confused about my career as a journalist. My first year of journalism school was hard; journalism was so much more than writing and unfortunately, writing wasn’t high up in the hierarchy of skills required. I hated interviewing people despite my thirst for people’s stories. I hated newspaper design and organizing articles. I hated the deadlines and the busy-ness of it all. That summer home was my opportunity to decide what to do. Plus my high school sweetheart and I were still on and off, trying to keep our drowning relationship afloat. At this point we were off and I wasn’t sure what to do there either.
But Derek and I had a couple months of greatness together. His family was wonderful and accepted me into their home with welcomed arms. He drove from Toronto each weekend to be with me. But amidst my inner turmoil, I wasn’t capable of giving Derek much of myself and I knew he was giving all of himself to me. It wasn’t fair. He was a great guy who deserved better so I broke up with him in a terrible way: I gave him the ol’ “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. Despite it being true I was also prideful and I didn’t want to give him a glimpse into my messed up head.
At that time in my life, I wanted to be seen as confident, put together, cool. What was happening in me was definitely not confidence nor put together nor cool.
I was a mess and I was insecure enough to not want that to surface for anyone, not even Derek. We parted ways with him confused and me relieved he didn’t get to see the “real” me.
A few years later when I was in a better headspace I wanted to reach out to him and apologize for how everything had played out between us. I felt I had owed him a better explanation than the one I gave him. I wanted to explain that it truly wasn’t him at all and that he was an amazing man. I kept putting it off for two reasons: one, it was over. Why would I revisit that? He had moved on and so had I. Two, I could do it later if I still felt compelled to talk to him.
The compelling feeling didn’t leave me for months. But I kept saying, “I’ll do it later.”
Sometimes, “later” never comes.
In 2015, we were home for Christmas in Ontario and I had gone for dinner with my best girlfriends. We were sitting at a round table, laughing, drinking and enjoying our time together when one of the girls mentioned Derek’s death.
I had no idea. Living in Saskatchewan, I hadn’t heard he had died.
The floor came up to meet me and if I had’ve been standing my legs would’ve given out.
He had committed suicide a few months earlier.
My “later” was gone.
The moral of the story is don’t ignore your heart’s whispers.
If you feel compelled to say or do something and it’s coming from a good place: do it.
If you want to start a new hobby or try something that scares you: do it.
If you want to ask that guy out or explore that feeling that feels vulnerable: do it.
If you want a promotion or a raise, ask for it.
If you want a different kind of marriage, ask for it.
If you want a better relationship with someone, ask for it.
Because, fuck, life can suck and sometimes, later never comes.
Life can be short and we are not on this Earth to live small. Dream big and live bigger. Start right this second and do it with gusto, gratitude and pride that you have today to start/do that thing.
Make ‘later’ become NOW.