Thursday, May 8, 2014

See You Be Brave

Stagnant: adjective \'stag-nant\
  1. not flowing
  2. not active, changing, or progressing
For a great length of time I felt like I was stagnant. During some of this time it was involuntary; there is only so much one can do when tethered to a dialysis machine 12 hours a week. But for other parts, it was voluntary.

Voluntary because I didn't know what to do next. "Stalled" is another good 'S' word to use. I was stalled and therefore stagnant in my life. I didn't know how to change it. So I didn't do anything except work at my good albeit dead-end job. All while friends and family got better jobs and advanced degrees, had babies and got married, bought houses and achieved major life accomplishments.

I just watched...
Was self-deprecating (and not in that "I'm humble and charming" way)...
And got a little bit angry at the successes of other people. Which, for the record, is not okay.
    Even though I didn't really know where to begin to rectify my stagnant life, I decided I needed to try and start somewhere, anywhere to break the cycle. I started looking for little opportunities.

I'd given up on a career in publishing when I didn't get a single call-back for an interview after applying for writing and publishing jobs for 2 years. I hadn't been writing much except some chapter of my work-in-progress memoir, but that too was stalled. I needed something different.

I trolled Poets&Writers ( for writing contests one night and saw a little advertisement in the corner for the Sarah Lawrence Summer Writers Seminar. I decided to apply, what the hell, I probably wouldn't get in anyway. I did get in. I took that little opportunity, and it's been leading me to bigger opportunities ever since.

Here's the thing about me: I'm not a brave person. I'm not an outgoing person. In fact, a lot of the time, I'm not a particularly friendly person (once and undergrad told me I could be "a little more pleasant" as she walked out of my office). So going to something like a writing seminar on the other side of the country was slightly out of my comfort zone. And as you know, I wanted to leave immediately after I got there. But yelled a lot of swears at myself internally and forced myself to stay. I forced myself to be brave.

People have been telling me that I'm brave to move to New York by myself and attend Columbia for graduate school. I'll be honest, I'm terrified, but that has nothing to do with moving to a new city that's across the country from where I live now or going to a school where I might be hopelessly outmatched. It has everything to do with the fact that for the first time in 15 years, I won't have a job.

Yep, it's not New York City that I'm terrified of - I'm so incredibly excited to get to that city it's ridiculous. STOP LOOKING AT APARTMENTS ON CRAIGSLIST, SARAH!!! It's TOO EARLY! - and it's not starting a graduate program at an Ivy League school. The thing I'm trying to be most brave about is not having a paycheck twice a month. And that my parents might take my beloved kitty to the shelter once I leave. But that's quite unfounded.

It's taken me a long time to be brave about my life, and a long time to break the cycle of stagnancy that I wallowed in. I believe in timing; that everything happens for a reason when it's supposed to. It was my time to break out and capture the ticket to my next life adventure. And I never would have if it hadn't been for an opportunity I almost didn't take.

I recently read a friend's blog. This friend lamented the fact that her life felt a little hollow, unaccomplished compared to some of those she saw around her, some she was closest to. That's why I decided to write this today, because my friend, I want you to be brave and take the opportunities you maybe don't think will work out. Sometime, most the time really, they probably won't, but it's that one that does that will help you to feel a little less hollow and a little better about the things you've accomplished thus far and can and will accomplish in your life.

Go listen to Sara Bareilles, she wants to see you be brave, too.

Love, Sarah


  1. Love this. This is why we are kindred spirits my dear! Being brave is scary. New stuff is scary. I keep telling myself, "Other people do this all the time! Look at Tim and Corinne!" But I'm still scared. And you're right, sometimes the opportunities won't work out. But sometimes they do. And you'll kick yourself if you don't take that chance. I am so proud of you, for being brave in every aspect of life. You've done and accomplished more than many people-- including those you used to watch a little angrily-- just in a different way, I think. I love you and can't wait to see what this new adventure has in store for you!

  2. Sometimes there's a fine line between "brave" and "insane." Or maybe we just tell ourselves that because we're too afraid to try. I'm so excited for you and the journey you're about to have. It does take courage to imagine a life different from one you're comfortable with - and even more to actual go out and change it.