One year ago yesterday I embarked on a new journey to become Braver Than Before. In the past year I have taken leaps and bounds in my battle against fear and anxiety, and have grown in so many ways that it is impossible to even identify them all! I am so grateful for all that this last year has taught me, and so humbled by how many people have come along on this journey with me to cheer me on, relate to my struggles, and find hope and healing in the words of my story. It has truly been a gift.
Today, as I reflect on all that has been accomplished in my life this past year, I would like to share 5 things—in no particular order—that I have learned along the road to becoming Braver Than Before.
1. I actually like me.
There are so many parts of my personality and disposition that I have always really struggled with. I tend to see a lot of aspects of myself as “problems” because of how they differ from the characteristics I see in people that I perceive as being strong and successful in the areas I am not. But over this past year I have come to embrace so much more about myself. Certain things that I previously saw as weaknesses, I can now appreciate as character traits that actually add to my personality to make me who I am. This doesn’t mean that I think I’m perfect or have nothing to work on to improve myself. But it means that I am no longer writing off entire chunks of my personality as “bad” just because they present some challenges in my life. I am who I am—I am who God created me to be. And that is something to celebrate!
2. Anxiety is not a feeling, it’s a way of life.
When it comes to anxiety, you can’t just “stop feeling” it. In fact, by the time you are noticeably feeling it, it has already worked it’s way into the core of your being. It’s not an emotion that changes based on your circumstances. You can feel happy and still be extremely anxious because anxiety becomes a part of your day to day experience. It becomes the lens through which you see and process everything in life. This doesn’t mean you should accept it for what it is and continue to let it control you. Rather, it means that in order to “stop feeling it”, you have to change your entire way of life. You have to change the way you think and help your brain forge new pathways. You have to decide that you are worth more than a life enslaved and do whatever it takes to turn the page and start writing yourself a new story.
3. Self-care matters.
I used to think that self-care was kind of selfish. But in the past year I have really come to realize that an appropriate amount of self-care is actually one of the best gifts that I can give not only to myself, but also to the people in my life. Taking some time for me—to relax, recharge, and refocus—makes me a better friend, a better wife, a better employee, a better Christian, a better version of myself. So I’ve discovered that it’s worth the time.
4. Seasons change, and that’s okay.
When I started blogging at Braver Than Before, I was committed to posting every single day. This was an absolutely amazing experience for me and it resulted in an incredible season of growth and self-discovery in my life. But when various factors—including travel, pregnancy, morning sickness, camp, etc.—made it difficult for me to maintain this pace, I really had a hard time embracing this “new normal”. I felt guilty and inadequate for not being able to keep up with the original pace I had set for myself. But what I needed to do, instead, was recognize that seasons come and go in life. Daily blogging was what I needed in that early season of Braver Than Before. But then I entered a season where I had other challenges and priorities that I needed to focus on. And just because some things in my life changed, doesn’t mean that I failed.
I have now entered yet another season in my life: motherhood. And I’ll be honest, I’m having a tough time figuring out how on earth to manage being a blogging momma. But I am very excited to see what this new season brings. It is already proving to be a challenge to embrace the changes for what they are, rather than allowing them to produce feelings of guilt and inadequacy because of how life is different. But I am learning to accept my new normal, and realizing that this too is a season worth celebrating.
5. I am never alone.
There have been so many times in the past year when I hesitated to write as candidly as I did and to share the raw, ugly, peculiar truth about my fears and anxieties with the world. I feared what people would think of me, because I personally thought I seemed crazy! But each time I did, I had more and more people connect with me to tell me how much they identified with my story and the challenges I was describing. More than ever before in life, over the past year I have experienced a sense of solidarity with so many people from all over the world who struggle with many of the same things I do. It has taught me that I am truly never alone. Even in the darkest moments, when I look around at my life and think that no one could possibly understand what I’m going through, I have to remember that there are so many people out there who get it. And not only that, but there is also a loving God who sees me in my mess and reaches out to me to help me through the dark. I am never alone.
I am so thankful to all of you who have shared in my journey over the course of this past year. I am thankful for your comments, your encouragements, and your discoveries. I am honored that you have allowed me to become a part of your story, and I hope we can continue to muddle through the mess together for years to come! One thing I know for sure is that in this past year, this journey has made me truly Braver Than Before.
What have you learned over the past year on your own “Braver Than Before” journey? Comment below and let me know!