Here's a confession: I'm afraid.
I live almost constantly in fear of so many things. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of myself. I'm afraid that I'm not really good enough for my dreams, that I am incapable of creating the life I want for myself.
Maybe you're afraid, too. Perhaps you've had some setbacks, or maybe you've internalized old failures and turned them into crippling anxiety about the future. I've done that, too. I intentionally make decisions that I know will leave me unsatisfied, because I am afraid that if I really make an effort to push myself forward, I'll fall short of the finish line.
If I never actually go for it, never actually take that first step, then my dreams will always be whole. I'll never have to see them painted with my own imperfect brush, pockmarked with the unique stamp I put on the world. They'll always be shiny and new and wonderful, and I'll never have to know that realizing my goals isn't as easy as I naively thought it would be. I'll never be embarrassed by the learning curve, by exposing myself as someone who is still figuring things out.
In our culture, we see so many things that are polished and perfect. My Instagram feed is full of pretty girls with artful lipstick stains on their coffee cups, hikers looking out over incredible vistas, and other gorgeous displays of food, pets, clothes, books. Facebook makes me feel inadequate, because all I can see of my friends' lives are happy families, fun vacations, and good hair days.
Knowing that this social media conundrum is common doesn't make me feel any better. I still look up from my screen and see a life that doesn't quite measure up: a messy apartment, frizzy hair, and scuffs on my shoes. Living in my imagination feels safer and easier. But the problem with imagining the life that you want instead of living it is that you miss out on so many experiences that might not be perfect, but are still beautiful. And you rob yourself of the chance to practice, to build your skills, and achieve things you never really believed you'd be able to do.
So instead of hiding behind myself and waiting out my life in the comfortable places, I'm making a commitment to try. I'm going to recognize that it's okay to fall short sometimes, for my initial efforts to be less than awesome. I'm going to shake off that embarrassment and go for it anyway. If you're afraid, too, I hope you'll make this commitment with me. And even when things don't work out as quickly or as spectacularly as we hope, we're going to pat ourselves on the back and love ourselves anyway. Maybe our dreams won't be whole anymore, but our souls will be. And we might never be perfect, but at least we'll be fearless.