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This was a letter I wrote to myself in the most challenging week of this term. Reading it back, I am both tender and amazed at my words. You really do not know what you are capable of, how much your heart and courage will stretch, and how strong your spirit, if only you will just keep taking the next step.
As Elizabeth Gilbert once quoted in one of her interviews, “Don’t hurry, but don’t stop.”
I have said that to myself so many times this term. Under my breath, often through gritted teeth. Quietly. Through tears of frustration. Sometimes playfully and full of joy. I was compassionate with myself. But I kept walking.
Dear Little Brave Soul,
I have asked myself to be courageous. And here are the ways that I have been, even though I’ve been tired and felt so defeated, even though I’ve felt small. I have asked myself to be courageous, and this is what I have done.
I have asked myself to love those students; to think about what I needed to say, immediately on my feet. I have cared for the emotionally wounded, and offered words of support where needed. I have loved my band, even though they felt so defeated along with me.
I have voiced my words; I’ve never voiced them all so deeply. The love of Mum + Dad were so needed today. Thank you so much, and so deeply, to both of you. You just listened and loved me. I struggled to form the words, I struggled to fly. And I feel like with a little more time, I think I possibly could at the end of today, or perhaps at the end of the weekend. You allowed me time and space. You allowed me to recover. Thank you so much.
I asked myself to let go of my pride. I have so much of it. I hate looking like an idiot, and I hate not fulfilling the best of my potential. But not everything goes perfectly and I need to get used to that. I need to learn how to move on and get excited about picking up the pieces, which is something I’ve not had to do for a while. I need to rest, recover, and love my band, and figure out how to improve. I need to model that behaviour. Because that is the courage and compassion and integrity I ask for myself.
I asked myself to stay in my lane. STAY IN MY GODDAMN LANE! I have really struggled with this as well. There are two places where it hurts, one for pride, one for love. There will be people in the world who will be happy at your failure. I forgot for a moment that their opinion doesn’t matter. If that is the case, and they really are happy about my failure, then their opinion really doesn’t count and the smallness of their thinking and integrity is a reflection of them, not me. And as for the other, having courage to communicate is another thing, so very different. I cannot shut pain out forever, even though it means I do not get hurt. I have to try and meet in the middle and communicate, for my sake. I have to keep speaking, even if I think that the other person does not deserve it. I have to live and interact. I have to step up and take my place in the world.
I ask myself to keep telling my story. Over and over. Keep saying my words, and checking that I am holding myself to compassion and integrity. I ask myself to keep loving myself as well.
I ask myself to reach out to others, even if it makes them a little uncomfortable and nervous. To say thank you for the courage imparted. To put my gratefulness into words.
I ask myself to remember that I have lost no sense of self through not achieving my best at this point in time. I ask myself to remember all the AMAZING AND EXTRAORDINARY things that I have done, all the things that I have been a part of, all the things I have shaped and created momentum on. I ask that I remember how many lives I have affected, and how many times I have inspired. I ask myself to model the behaviour that would make me proud, and feel lifted up, valued, and comforted. I ask myself to be brave when I do not feel like being brave, because that is what I need to do.
I ask myself to rest. This weekend, I am enveloping myself in a cocoon of care and love. I will stand my own sacred ground, with quiet warmth, courage and faith. It doesn’t matter what happens beyond this, or what happens around me. I only have to worry about what is in front of me. The success of others does not take away my raw talent, compassion and love. My own successes are only snapshots; enjoyed, valued, and set free. There is nothing more to it. The only thing that matters is that I KEEP striving for excellence, and keep striving for what I need to do with compassion and inspiration and love. I will stand my ground with courage. I will keep telling my story. And I will keep telling my story with dignity.
I ask myself to lean in. I don’t know what I can do until I have to do it. I feel opened up and broken apart, but free somehow.
I ask myself the remember that I have work to do. I have love to give, and receive. I have music to make, and capture and write, and I have students who want my direction and care. I have things that I need to stand fast and do, and I have other successes and opportunities to chase. So don’t get stuck to long, laugh sometime soon, keep the conversation going, and rest. You have so much you need to do, little soul, that you should get on with doing it.
I ask myself to be human, whole and imperfect. I ask myself to break apart joyfully, and laugh with all my might, that I may have peace soon.