“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” By Anais Nan
I first encountered this quotation when my life felt as though it was falling apart. I was 27 years old, newly separated, newly jobless, and completely and hopelessly confused. Why was this happening to me? I had done everything “right”, and yet I felt like such a failure. Little did I know that this experience would take me on the strangest, deepest, and most transformative journey of my life. My soapbox is about taking risks, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and listening to your inner voice.
Like many people I had a picture in my head about how life was “supposed” to be. I followed all the right steps; went to college, got a job right away, got my Masters degree, got engaged, got married, and bought a house…I even had the cute little puppy to go with the “perfect image”. I was living the middle class, suburban dream. My parents were so proud of me. Some of my peers were so envious of me. Yet I was living a lie—committing to a life of suburbia—and living by other people’s standards. This wasn’t me. I would catch myself upset, and I wouldn’t understand why. I was “supposed” to be happy. This was “supposed” to be it. Yet, something was missing and I just couldn’t ignore it any longer. So I left….left my husband, left my job, left my comfort zone. I decided to listen to my inner voice. Now, looking back, I can’t believe I had the courage to do that.
The night I left to stay with my younger sister, my best friend drove into the city to see me, and together we made a bucket list. No self- pity! This year was going to be about me-finding myself, losing myself, and everything in between. Quickly my list started growing—I included things like learn Italian, teach ESL, travel, pursue higher education, do yoga, become a life coach, meditate more, take time to appreciate life. I ended up doing 90% of the things on my list. I traveled to Israel, Italy, and Aruba—I became a certified life coach; I learned Italian. I went to job fairs in DC and San Francisco. I ran a half marathon. I made new friends and gave up some toxic ones.
I felt like my life was a scene out of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love…and through it all the most important thing that I learned was sometimes it is okay to just be. I found myself. I rediscovered my voice. And that process led me back home—back with my husband. Only things were different now; I knew who I was and how I wanted to live my life. Almost 5 years later, my life looks completely different, and I can honestly say that I am happier. I live in a beautiful area by the beach; my husband and I are very happy and feel empowered to live the life we want. We are both pursuing careers that we are passionate about that help us challenge conventions and take risks. We have a beautiful, sweet baby girl and are grateful everyday about where we are physically and emotionally. But none of this would have ever happened without taking the risk. During my Montessori teacher training, which proved to be another risk-yielding-transformative experience, I was reminded of the Zen Buddhist quote “leap and the net will appear”, and I have always believed in the Joseph Campbell quotation “follow your bliss; the universe will open doors where there were only walls before”…and now from my own experience, I can honestly say that risks yield rewards and we all have whatever we need right inside of us.