We are told from an early age that we’re not supposed to indulge in our egos. We are supposed to make them small and curl them up and tuck them under our pillows. We are supposed to contain ourselves in pieces, hidden at the back of closets and in glass jars. We are supposed to suffocate that particular part of ourselves that wants to express the pride in our work. We are made to feel overly conscious of appearing arrogant or cocky. We are always aware of appearing too bold.
And that is why we grow up unsure. We stand on our spindly, infant legs, prepared to take first steps, and we hear words reminding us not to show off or rub our successes into other people’s faces. So we retract. We sit back down and bow our heads, careful to make little noise and draw no attention. We smooth ourselves into the background of our peers until we are faceless and unidentifiable.
We fold up our un-submitted manuscripts and unwritten songs and unmade projects. We convince ourselves there is nothing out there for us but potential for failure and we are made so afraid of failure that we never start. We lie, dormant and still, like un-sparked candlewicks with a lifetime of potential and also a lifetime to waste it.
Until someone, somewhere, leans in and whispers “I believe in you.”
Thank you for striking the match. Thank you for encouraging me with nothing but the words on your tongue. Thank you to mothers and sisters and friends and strangers on the other side of the world who were willing to take a chance on a rough script. Thank you for your hands. They were hands that decided to write me replies and hold my own when I was afraid.
And thank you to the person staring back in the mirror. Thank you for being afraid. I thank you for your moments of courage when you looked yourself in the eyes and wondered what it might be like to be somebody you were proud of. But I thank you equally for making the choices that go on to define you. Those were the hard choices, the difficult choices, the choices that made life less desirable in the short term, but so much more rewarding in the long. Thank you for making those choices in spite of your fear.
Because, even with all the handholding and all the encouragement from those other wonderful people, you were the one to actually do it. You found your feet, tracing outlines of your toes over and over until you have something tangible to hold. You recognized the necessary changes you had to make to shape your life into something you could love. And although it’s by no means perfect, it’s a start.