Can I Just Be Honest?

As the High Holidays sneak closer, this time of year is one of introspection. A closer look, an uncovering of what I’ve safely kept hidden all year – the more difficult parts of life, and myself, that I’d rather not confront on a regular basis.

Every year, for the month before Rosh Hashonah begins, it is customary to listen to the shofar blow, a spiritual version of an alarm clock, a wake-up call to take stock of what counts. This year, we received a very real and cruel wake-up call.  When my cousin passed away, long before the world could afford to lose her, it was a harsh reminder that life is fragile and how easy it is to lose focus.
I’m a very passionate person. At times, I’ve even been told I’m too passionate.
But I have so many dreams, so many hopes for the future, so many ways we can be doing better as a nation, as educators, as people.
There are so many ways I can be doing better as me.
I know that I am not the best version of myself yet. I know there is so much more digging, so much more discovery to do – but do we ever really become our best selves? Is there ever a time that we can put down our tools, put our hands up and say “done”?
This Elul, this month leading up to Rosh Hashonah, has been one filled with lots of thinking, lots of looking within and facing some hard truths.
Why have I been putting certain things off?
Why do I hold back from doing certain things?
Why do I hold back from saying things that are difficult to say?
Why do I consistently and constantly allow for the things that don’t matter to get in the way of things that really do?
One thing my cousin Hindi was really good at was honesty.
How many times will I lie to myself before I realize that we only benefit from honesty, no matter how hard it seems at the time?
As much as I love to say that I love vulnerability, and sharing my deepest thoughts, I suffer too from the normal human condition of being terrified to open the door at times.
Because when we open doors, the world is allowed to judge what is within, and allowing people to judge our most inner selves is scary stuff.
But. Honesty. Ugh, honesty.
There is this moment in time, always, right before I say something I’m scared to say. It’s this moment in my mind in which I must make a decision – silence, or share?
Every time I choose the latter it’s like an adrenaline rush, as soon as I commit to being honest, to sharing what hurts, or what may be scary to say.
And want to know the truth?
I’ve never regretted it.
That fact alone should be enough to motivate me the next time, but each time it’s a fresh new battle.
Vulnerability and honesty are not easy. But they are the only things that keep us human.
If we can’t relate to each other, if we don’t know each others weaknesses as much as we know each other’s strengths, how can we connect on the level necessary for human connection?
Sometimes my honesty and openness makes others uncomfortable, and I apologize deeply if you have ever been on the receiving end of this.
But for as long as I live, I hope to never lose the ability to be vulnerable, and I pray that this is a year that each time I choose to open up, I lose a little bit of the fear that comes with it.
For we are all only human.
Life is fragile and comes with no guarantees.
Why should we hide? Why should we fear being real, when that is what we are all craving anyway?
We live in a world of edited realities – let’s not let that determine who we are.
I’ve had so many beautiful, raw, vulnerable conversations with people since the start of this blogging-for-a-year stint, and that has taught me that when you open a door, others will walk through it.
I hope to always be able to keep this door open, and I invite you all to open your own.
I’m not promising that it won’t scare the heck out of you.
It will.
But that’s the point.
This post is a kind of a mess, and I’m not sure if it all flows, but it’s what’s on my mind today, and this is me.
Here’s to a year of truth and honesty, and being unashamedly myself.
Here is to a year of not being afraid.
Blog Post: 49/52

Featured Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Scares and Fears

I have a confession. I have a weird fear. It doesn’t hold me captive, but it’s a fear nonetheless.

Every time I cross a street, I have a fear that the cars, although stopped by a traffic light, will move on full speed and hit me.

It’s an unreasonable fear- why would anyone willingly commit a traffic violation and murder in one go? Why would they want to kill me, of all the worthy people in the world to kill?
No matter how many times I’ve told myself that it’s a ridiculous fear, it’s always there. Every time I cross. In the back of my head.
I’m an analyzer. There is little in my life that hasn’t been ripped apart by my prying eyes, my desire to know.
Today, it all came together.
My crossing-the-street fear is rooted in something far deeper. A fear I realized is all across my life, a fear that permeates the way I lead my life.
My real fear is that no matter how good I am, no matter how hard I work to follow the rules, or not follow the rules, my life is still in someone else’s hands.
I realized how much this fear controls my life today.
My brain is always on overdrive. I have dreams that I can practically touch. There is so much inside of me.
Yet, no matter how far I go, or how much I accomplish, I look to others for the validation.
I look to others to tell me to keep going. I keep going, but with a fear that at any second, it can all end..because of what someone else says.
I’m having a hard time writing this, because it’s painfully honest.
I don’t know how to make this well written, because it’s my innermost feelings.
I have all kinds of fears, but this one takes the cake, because it sums up all my failings.
My fear of how  I am perceived controls my comfort level on the street and at parties.
I will never stop thinking about what you are seeing when you see me, or what you think of the words I say.
Because I have given you all the power in the world.
You have the ability to press the gas pedal and destroy me.
I have put my trust in you, and I am powerless to stop you.
That- that is my fear.
Every time I receive a compliment, or survive a socially awkward moment, it’s crossing a street safely. But there is always the next street.
Crossing the street is not the solution to the problem.
It’s so much deeper. Isn’t it always deeper?
Today, I felt that fear melt away a little. I was told something today that felt a little like a rejection. But I was okay. It was okay. I didn’t give that person the power to hurt me, and I wasn’t hurt.
I looked inside of myself and asked my own heart “Where do we go next?”
You know what?
I had an answer.
I looked into myself and crossed that street without even thinking about those cars.
At that moment, I knew it was possible.
It was possible for me to not be afraid of those cars. It was possible for me to not give power to everyone around me.
Suddenly, the possibilities were endless. I can go somewhere. Little old me, useless without my own power backing me up.
I will do it. I will achieve. It might take me years. It might take me forever. But it’s not going to be put away because of fear. Not anymore.
For now, I need to work on crossing streets without the fear of others controlling my fate.
Then, I can work on letting myself out, being the person I want to be, without fear of what you will say in response.
One day, I’ll be completely proud of who I am.
One day, I won’t hide behind my fears, waiting for your permission for me to go on.
I’ll get there, and it might be a slow and arduous journey, but today I took another step forward.