“This is not your practice life; this is all there is.” -Unknown

Life isn’t meant to just happen. Life is meant to be lived and it is meant to be felt. Sometimes it feels like breathing in that sharp burst of cold air in the winter, the one that stings your lungs and waters your eyes and causes an exhale that looks like smoke. Sometimes it feels like walking on hot asphalt in the summer sunshine, scorching your feet and causing blisters that will speckle your skin for weeks. Sometimes it feels like a long run on a fall morning, when the world looks so striking you forget your aching muscles for a second just to take it all in.

Sometimes it feels like waking up in a house where you’ll always be the stranger. It feels like living each day according to a routine that is not your own. It feels like facing your weakness, really knowing and reckoning with it in ways you never have before. It feels like making close friends with discomfort, feeling its presence acutely and letting it sit like a constant reminder at your side. And every time you start to settle in, a shifting foundation prompts you to tear it all down and start over. Sometimes life introduces you to a whole new meaning of lonely.

But feeling life, really living it, means contending with adversity. We are alive precisely because of the feeling we possess, that rich emotional complexity that makes up every crevice of the human mind. There are days when you will wake up and remind yourself to step one foot in front of the other because the mountain before you looks so massive you might never see the other side. You gather what courage you have left to muster and prepare for the tasks ahead, knowing that the only way through the challenge is exactly that: through it.

There is good news here. Life has meaning precisely because it’s hard. That cold gust of winter air brings life to your body and those blisters put calluses on your feet. Those long runs build strength that makes you powerful and brave. The mountain you’re climbing, no matter how daunting, has a peak at the top. Resist the temptation to stay in the valley below.

Hard things make you better. Get out there and live.

 

Breathe in, breathe out. Today is bigger than the discomfort you’re feeling at this moment. And besides, this is how you grow, right? Get out there and make it happen. But maybe get an iced latte first so you can put it off just a little bit longer.

Welcome to the real conversations that happen in my brain.

Let’s talk about inadequacy for a second because I’m becoming all too familiar with the notion as of late. Have you ever had seasons where you can’t shake the feeling that you’re not quite good enough to be doing what you’re doing? Sometimes no matter how prepared I am for a task, or how excited I am to take it on, it ends up feeling like I’m standing at the bottom of a mountain cliff with no climbing gear. Well, I guess we’re doing this. At least I packed snacks.

Merriam-Webster defines inadequacy as “the quality of being insufficient or incapable,” which feels like a harsh truth for those of us who set sky-high expectations and then act as our own most ruthless critic. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you may seem to be performing if you can’t rectify that feeling in your own mind. Whether it’s in a career, a relationship or a creative pursuit, that perception of being “not good enough” can sneak up out of nowhere and bring your productive energy to a screeching halt. I say this because I know the feeling all too well.

I’m finally here in New York, living in my dream setting, a city full of hustlers and people who work tirelessly in pursuit of goals and dreams. The ambition running through the streets here is palpable. And yet, more often than not I feel thoroughly out of my element and wondering why I chose to take this leap. What made me feel qualified to be here, telling stories about real, multidimensional people? How can I write in a way that feels authentic to me and also representative of the world I inhabit? I feel tiny in the grand scheme of life and yet also in possession of an opportunity I’m scared of messing up. This is a chance to make a real difference and I know for certain I want to be all in.

And yet, that persistent misgiving in my gut is that at the end of the day, in the eyes of the people I love or the goals I set or the issues that matter, I just won’t measure up.

Feeling incapable is a tough thing to shake, especially when you’re consistently working through a learning curve (Hello, graduate school!). But here’s the good news: Growth doesn’t come from comfort zones and it doesn’t come from embracing the familiar. It comes from the unwavering resolve to climb that mountain cliff, whether or not you packed the right materials. Life would be miserably boring if we all just stuck to things we knew well.

So today I’m celebrating the feeling of falling short because it opens up enormous room for progress. And maybe that belief that I can’t do it will become the very thing that teaches me I can.