"You need to learn how to love yourself and your life." This was the unanimous prescription given to me by dozens of doctors and experts after diagnosing me with a rare auto-immune illness.
These three words stamped on my soul comprised the core shaking catalyst that began as the curse of darkness and transformed into a sacred gift.
After three years of dedicating my life to being healed, I moved from the dance floor to the yoga mat, from the confines of a grey cubicle to a life of possibility. I freed myself from the matrix and was beginning to see who I was beneath the anesthetic haze of external dependency and programming. Finally I was ready to lift the iron curtain guarding my wounds. There was just one last stop.
I packed my backpack and booked a flight to the unknown, to a place that filled my heart with flames of curiosity, to the mystical land that held a piece of myself that I was ready to retrieve: India.
10,000 miles away, I left my comfort zone in Los Angeles to confront myself, to unveil the parts of me that were hiding deep inside the confines of the mundane, suppressed behind distraction and numbness, monotony and survival. I dove head first into my shadows, into my pain, and met my fears face to face, looked them straight in the eye, and said “hello old friend, you’re not that scary after all.”
Fear #1: Backpacking alone- Check
Traveling all alone was the first fear I faced. I feared loneliness and isolation; I feared my heart would ache for the comforts of my family, my tribe, and my cushy lifestyle.
These fears were squashed immediately just minutes after touching down in India. Traveling alone I was hardly ever alone: Solo travel is an invitation to invite more people into our worlds than we often have time for.
This lesson further had me realise that we have everything we need inside of us; we don’t need anything or anyone to complete us. WE ARE ENOUGH!
Without any shoulder to cry on other than my own, I learned to become my own rock, my own best friend, my own everything. In cultivating a relationship with myself for the first time in my whole life, I was finally able to give myself the love and attention I was always projecting onto others. It was finally time to give it to the most important person in my life: Me.
Fear #2: Feeling my sadness — Check
Feeling my feelings was a fear I carried my whole life, until now. I used to have a deep fear of feeling my sadness, a blockage in admitting to myself that I am capable of owning feelings other than happiness.
I feared that if I open my heart to feel the pain inside me, of my parents’ current divorce, past abandonment from friends, and heartbreak from old loves, that I would break and never be able to put the pieces of my heart back together.
Now I know this isn’t true, we can feel it and be okay. In fact, when we feel it, we can release it. When we feel all the shades of our soul, we become whole. This wholeness is the key to self-love.
Fear #3: Swimming with sharks — Check
Fear of the ocean, of the unknown, used to make me incredibly anxious. Not being in control, not knowing what is under or behind me. Woah, this was a major fear, that is, until I swam with whale sharks.
My heart raced with nerves, there was even a flash moment where I debated jumping out of the boat entirely. That thought melted away as I allowed myself to feel the fear, chose to trust myself and the universe and use this as a time to get over the fear instead of letting it win.
So I jumped! I would be lying if I were to tell you that I wasn’t filled with nerves as I swam next to the gigantic creatures, but that’s not the point. The point is, hand in hand I jumped together with the fear. It didn’t vanish completely, instead I became one with it and now I am free from this fabricated story I had been living in, ready to tackle my next fear: Speaking on stage!
We can become one with our fears, instead of making them separate and avoiding them, making them the enemy. When we jump right into them, we can stand together in strength and holy union.
It isn’t that one day I woke up and became fearless, it isn’t that my fears dissipated into thin air, allowing me to accomplish the above. It is that I have learned the secret recipe: Feel your fear and do it anyway.
When we feel, we heal. When we feel those fears inside of us and make the bold move of diving right in, we realise the fears aren’t real after all. A whole new world opens up, freedom wipes over us, unlocking a new passion to reach.