After all the feedback on my last post, I think it's time to keep being real about about how the move / new job / life in Michigan have been for the last five months: HARD! It's not that I hate it or regret my decision; I actually have way too much fun most days and am so at peace. It's just that it's been a transition and transitions are hard! You can't spend your entire adult life in one place and then completely move on overnight. There is a grieving process involved in any change in life, and leaving an entire life behind is no exception.
Instead of really giving grief the time it needs, I've had to stuff it and get to work...there's 80 kids and a team of staff members relying on me every week.
It first came up months ago when I was deliberately searching quotes on bravery, looking for some inspiration as I had just made the decision to go back to Michigan and was looking for some encouragement, someone's words to voice what I was feeling when I couldn't figure out exactly how I was feeling or what I needed to say.
Brave felt like a good word. I was stepping out into the unknown. It was big. It was scary. I needed some courage. There is a ferociousness to brave that I liked.
In January and February I took this quote to heart. I needed to do this Michigan thing. I needed people to see me do something scary and big so that they would be inspired to do the same. The ability to leave was like a superpower, and I was commended on being "strong" enough to do something so scary.
But now that I've been gone, I don't think the brave thing was leaving. Yeah it was scary and still puts my faith to the test daily, but I don't know that it was brave.
Brave is the way I handle it now that I've left. And this time, brave to me isn't about being strong, it's about being weak, being vulnerable. It's about being not-ok, and being okay with it. Brave is courage, but not in a sense of power...it's courage in my ability to share with others how I'm actually doing. It's admitting that yeah, even though the days are good, I'm still grieving. Yes, somedays I'm still searching for hope, waiting for this all to make sense.
Brave might be one of the easiest things to fake. It's easy to masquerade around in a parade of accomplishments and look-at-me-nows. But when the mask is off? Is the person under it really brave? Or is brave a front for insecurity, loneliness, the feeling that you can't really share how you're doing?
I want brave to be going to church with a tear-streaked face because I'm lonely and I need my people and I need them to know it. Because how will they help me if they don't know my struggles?
In March I was back in Florida for a wedding and able to reconnect with so many people I haven't seen in a long time. I wanted them to think I'm brave so I told them about this big new move. But what if real bravery is found in my ability to tell them "I moved, and you know what? It's been a struggle."
Here's the problem: people really don't know how to deal with that. Oh, yes, some do and they do it well. But I think this kind of brave is unexpected. And that's what makes it important! I've found that being brave in my struggles helps other people be brave in their struggles.
In the last couple months I've taken notice of the struggles of some of my friends. They are struggling in their jobs, in their marriages, struggling with their weight and with their kids and their own insecurity and loneliness.
Can't we all just struggle together?
What makes me most sad about all these friends who are struggling is that so many choose to do it on their own. There are the few who have let me in on their struggles...what about all my friends fighting their own battles who aren't brave enough to talk about them yet? Can't we all just struggle together? That would be brave.
I think now I want brave to be synonymous with real. Authentic. Genuine. Brave isn't strength in the struggle, brave is admitting there is a struggle. The courage to be yourself might be the bravest thing you can do.
Let's be brave together.