When Feeling Better Feels Scary

Recently, a woman sat across from me. I’ve known her off and on throughout her life. She’s traveled a difficult road. Like usual, I asked her how things were going in a particular area of difficulty in her life. In all honesty, I expected an answer like I had received many times in the past…something in the camp of “so so”, “not good”, or “the same”. But for the first time in a very long time, she answered with this word…“great”. I noticed. And she knew I had noticed. I could see it all over her face…shades of discomfort, embarrassment, and “Oh no, did I just say that?!”

Something had shifted. It wasn’t that her life had magically become easier. It wasn’t that the struggles had disappeared. The shift was one towards hope. Her answer was “great” because she had grabbed a hold of the possibility of something different. Having walked so much of the difficult road with this individual, I found myself fighting back a flood of tears watching her so bravely step into something unfamiliar to her. But at the same time as I was fighting back tears, I was also suppressing my urge to jump around the room in excitement. Knowing how vulnerable she felt, I chose to temper my reactions just a bit and landed somewhere between the two.

She was scared.

She had just stepped into a new territory of possibilities of good and hope and healing and being “great”. And while for some of us, that territory is the norm, for others it can feel as unsettling as standing in front of a crowd of people in your underwear.

Change is uncomfortable. Change means to make or become different. It is removing yourself from what you have most often known…from what has become familiar.

I see my friend moving into the “uncomfortable.” She’s stepping into change. She’s not getting a new job, moving into a new neighborhood or going back to school. But she’s doing something that takes just as much, if not more, courage.

And she’s scared.

She’s wondering what people will think of her if she smiles more, laughs more, holds her head up more, talks more or tells them she is ‘good’ instead of just ‘alright’.

She wants to walk in the light and no longer hide in the shadows. She is afraid of looking clumsy and awkward. She’s seen much of life through sadness and disappointment and controlling fear. Feeling good and the actions and words that accompany it do not feel natural to her. They cause her to feel that she is on display.

She wants to celebrate the change, but she feels timid. She wonders what people will expect from the her that is taking hold of the possibility of good and taking hold of the hope. She is afraid that she will disappoint and fall again.

She has grown familiar with assuming that her identity is her struggle. Without it, she is concerned that she will not know who she is. She is afraid that others will not accept or believe the changes in her…even when they are good. She wonders if there’s grace if some days aren’t quite “great”.

Tired. Grieving. Depressed. Lonely. Disappointed. Hurting. Sick. Broken-hearted.

Many of us have been there. We know what it’s like to feel stuck in it. We know what it’s like to walk around assuming these labels are plastered to our forehead. We can lose sight of the truth that the struggles do not equal who we are…even when we have grown oh-so-familiar with them.

Change is one of the bravest things I have witnessed. Embracing a new way of thinking and behaving and feeling takes audacity. Finding ways to express that you are walking in a new direction takes boldness. Experimenting with new language communicating hope and expectancy takes guts.

It may feel vulnerable.

It may feel awkward.

It may seem clumsy.

It may feel scary.

It’s okay. Just take one step at a time towards the change. And if you find that you feel like running towards it…go for it. 

Even though you may not believe it now…you are brave.

You are seen and you are loved and you are not alone.

Many are on a similar journey.  And we are cheering for you…

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