The scary part about exploring the parts of yourself that aren’t necessarily uncovered is that you’re bound to find something that scrapes the image you have of yourself.

At least that’s how it’s been for me.

There are parts of me I’m proud of and there are other parts that I’ve never had a desire to look at. I don’t know what I’m looking for. It’s kind of a shot in the dark, but I’m familiar with the room I’m in. My memory should serve me as well as I allow it to. Whatever I find will be a surprise: shame, guilt, beauty, love, maybe something in between.

Lately I’ve been wondering what it takes to love without needing a reason why. A friend retweeted this picture (see left) and I thought to myself, “This makes sense to me.”

Because why shouldn’t we love people for the sole purpose of loving them? I subscribe to this:

Love people. Yep, all of ’em. Even the people who want to see you fail.

Love them unapologetically and without restrictions. I don’t have all of the answers, but one thing that I feel too be true in my core is that I need to be better about setting the bar too high when it comes to loving others.

Know that we are worth it all: every last ounce of energy and sweat and hustle inside of us, we are worth the love that comes before, after, and in-between.

We have to practice our worthiness in the way we treat ourselves and others. We set that standard; if we love ourselves too little, we will love others too little.

If we go the rest of our lives being afraid to love someone because maybe they won’t love us back, we’ll never see our love grow.

Don’t hold it in.

There are people who are growing old and wishing they had loved a little harder, that they had opened up a little more, that they took every opportunity to match guilt and shame and despair with heaps and piles of love.

There are people who will never know what it means to be loved. That breaks my heart. It bruises me to know how people in every corner of this world won’t know how to love or be loved. Those people deserve the love you have to give away. Give it.

If we spent half as much time loving ourselves and others as we do finding ways to tear each other down, this world might just be 1% better. That 1% may not change the world. But it may change someone’s world. Imaging that being you. Imagine what you could do if someone told you every single day just how much you are loved.

All of this is a long way of saying I just want to wake up every day of my life and have more love in my heart for myself and the world around me than I did the day before. I want to know what it’s like to love others radically, without question. I want people to never have to wonder whether or not I loved them.

It’s all too short. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Let’s spend more time piling up all the love we have in our hearts and give it all away.

A few thoughts on learning:

  • It’s scary. There. I said it. It’s terrifying. As new information turns into skill, we add responsibility and a sense of moral obligation to teach others this information. We become teachers by default. Others will call upon us to evoke a sense of understanding among those who are not privileged enough to know the same information or to know what to do with the information.
  • Knowingly or unknowingly, someone looks at me as an educator. Am I embracing that or running away from it?
  • It’s exhausting. We search for this, right? The opportunity to learn; to add things to our muscles or memories that allow us to bring value to people or places or things. But when we are constantly adding things without a reflection or deconstruction of each piece of information, learning becomes a practice of exhausting our mental capacity.
  • Still, I knock. I rattle. I shake things in hopes that I will be able to take something away from it and be a better person because of it. As exhausting as it can be, the practice of learning only stops when we let it. More on this soon.

Transitioning is a steep climb. It means leaving behind parts of yourself in order to move towards new understandings of the world around you. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t know how to ask for help when I need it the most. I don’t know how to tell someone that I’m struggling or that I need guidance. I’m not good at it because I’ve never thought it was necessary.

I don’t always ask questions when I should. If someone is teaching me something, I don’t know how to say, “I don’t understand” when they ask me if I get it. Maybe it’s a sort of insecurity with my own understanding of the world; I process things in solitude so that I can know what it means to experience it fully on my own before trying to experience it fully with others. This often leads to a sense of helplessness because I’ve decided in my mind that asking for help isn’t an option, and that even if it were, it’s too late. If I don’t get it at this point, I’ll never get it.

It’s a vicious circle I fall into. But entirely human of me.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Ashley C. Ford talk about her story. She brought with her anecdotes of who she used to be, what growing looks like, and how she gave up something comfortable to do something she’s always dreamed of doing: writing.

“Writing is like sculpting. You don’t create the marble. But you’re given a chunk of it and you find your voice in creating something with it.” -Ford

I knew that when she took the stage, she had something to say. As a friend put it, “[she’s] richly attuned to the world.” She was a beautiful reminder that there are great big things that I have the opportunity and privilege to create on my own. As Ford weaved through story after story, I thought to myself how grounded in grace she really was. And important part of her story is how she chose to give up “safe” for “scary.”

It wasn’t until this moment that I realized that’s what I should do, too.

By the end of her talk, I had pages of notes, quotes, and strings of thought that she helped churn out of me. A few that stood out:

  • “I’ve spent a lot of years half-doing things. It’s kind of my forte.” -Ford
  • “It’s not helpful to stay in the place you’ve already figured out.” -Ford
  • Being happy with something is not a reason to stay or become stagnant.
  • “It was scary. And so I went anyway.” -Ford
  • If I really want to help people, I have to be willing to let go of the idea that I need to be with them every step of the way. They’ll be able to do things without me. That’s important. And okay.
  • “There is no hero or villain in real life; nobody is completely good and nobody is completely bad.” -Ford

I feel closer to the person I can become because of the words another has given away freely. And I ask myself, “what kind of life do I want to live?”

I’m still figuring that part out.

A few pictures from July to August:

My wonderful, authentic, full-of-life students that I have the pleasure of working next to in the coming months.
My professional cohort of insightful and motivated peers. We came in together. Let’s see how much of an impact we can make.

Hello, September. It’s nice to see you again.

Published by Robbie Williford

Writer from Flint, Michigan. Partial but slowly becoming. Educator. Storyteller. Bashful. Paying attention to the quiet.

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