There’s a moment in the season finale of season three of Stranger Things where Hopper tells El, “Remember the hurt. The hurt means you’re out of that cave.”
It’s a simple statement, preceded by a beautiful letter describing how he once hid his emotions, letting the world pass him by without truly giving himself the freedom to feel.
He’s pretty emotional.
You’ll probably cry if you watch it, too — or at least get a little teary-eyed.
But the tears are good. They’re tears of happiness and sadness and love and joy. They’re tears of change and tears of growth.
Hopper’s words are reminders of the beauty that exist in life and the exhilaration and fear that can come with living and loving with your whole heart.
They’re a lesson in living fully, too.
Sometimes it’s scary to step out of that cave.
Sometimes it’s easier to hide away within the walls of your home, to surround yourself with the things that are comfortable and familiar. It’s easy to sit in the warmth of what you know instead of stepping out into the unknown.
The unknown can be cold.
The unknown can be hard.
The unknown can be scary, too.
It’s frightening to stand in a space where you don’t know who you’re going to meet or what you’re going to encounter.
It can make one feel uneasy about abandoning the routine and rhythms that have punctuated one’s life for so long, for in that cycle, we know what to expect. We know what’s coming and who’s coming. We know where to go and how to maneuver ourselves within the pattern that we’ve built.
When you break that routine and rhythm, you can no longer anticipate what’s coming.
When routines and rhythms break, you don’t always know what to expect or how to navigate yourself within the new space.
When you step out of the cave, you won’t always know what you’re going to find, and that’s okay. Life is far more wonderful outside of that cave.
Outside of that cave, you’ll make mistakes. But you’ll learn from them, too.
Outside of that cave, you’ll try and you’ll fail — but you’ll succeed, too.
Outside of that cave, your heart will break. And then it will heal. And then it might break again. But you’ll see how you can expand. You’ll discover strength you never knew you had. You’ll get hurt and you’ll feel sad. You will know great joys and glorious surprises. You’ll feel disappointed and you’ll feel supported. Outside of that cave, you’ll show up for others, and others will show up for you, too. You’ll learn how to be a hero to someone else, and you’ll find your own hero, too. Outside of that cave, you’ll learn how beautiful love is , how it’s messy and pretty and exhilarating and electrifying. You’ll give your love and you’ll receive it, too.
Outside of that cave, you might get hurt.
But outside of that cave is where you can fully live.