Life has a way of showing you what you need exactly when you need it, even if it’s not what you want to see or believe.

And courage is what it takes to see yourself through to the other side.

I didn’t always see things that way. I’m loyal and honest – to a fault. I’m bold in more ways than one, and I’m not afraid to speak my mind or say how I feel. I say what I mean and I mean what I say, and that alone is intimidating. Most people expect me to “do that girl thing” where I say “all the right things” but secretly am mad or freaking out or plotting some passive aggressive reply while I seek my revenge in ways unknown. Even my female friends are taken aback more often than not when I say how I feel or look at things through a realist view rather than simply sighing and nodding and saying “oh yes, everything will be okay, screw him, it’s all his fault” (though there are times I will say that, or that I get it completely wrong) or whatever the situation at hand may be. Fuck that. That’s way too much effort to spend on something that will only hurt others and myself when I could instead choose to focus on the positive and on making life better for me and everyone around me. I choose that. And that also takes courage.

And conviction. I speak with conviction. I love completely. I believe from the ground up. And even when I am terrified, if I tell you I won’t run away, I won’t. I am not a liar, or a ghost. I just don’t have that in the fabric of my being. And integrity is core to who I am just like gills are a core part of a fish in order to be able to survive. Just like my flaws are a huge part of me – and I have a lot of them – my integrity is my grounding rod.

It took a long time to build myself this way. For many years I was a runner. I was afraid of being honest, and open. In some ways I still am. I work in marketing and my day job also makes me continue to be aware of public perception, persona, and polite niceties that I find frivolous and trivial. But I’ve learned to balance that out. I’ve learned how to be honest with honey rather than vinegar and I’ve learned that you can look at life through rose colored glasses and believe the best in people, even when they’ve shown you they’re not quite exactly what you wanted to believe. Sometimes I get things wrong. I get a lot of things wrong, actually. I’m over the top. I can be loud, dramatic, demanding, and confusing. I send mixed signals, and am a mix of positive and negative and everything in between. But I’m working on being better at all of it. At being me.

Life has a way of showing you what you need exactly when you need it, even if it’s not what you want to see or believe. There were a lot of things this April I didn’t want to see or believe. A lot of mistakes I made. A lot of things I thought but never said and should have. Feelings and concerns that I chose to ignore that grew into more, and that part’s my fault. But it’s not all my fault. There are a lot of things that didn’t turn out at all the way I expected. I put my faith and trust in places that – while I hope I am wrong – may indeed be misplaced (at least for now). And even so, I’ve learned that nothing in this life is final. So if I was wrong, so what? I can still learn from that. And I can still give second chances. I can still believe the best in someone is still there, even if something changed. Even if it was me who somehow caused someone to change (though at the end of the day the only one responsible for our own actions is ourselves). No one is perfect. I have more than my fair share of demons (just read any of my earlier blogs and you’ll see what I mean), and I work to overcome them and rise above, but it takes work. Someone once told me that this would be work, but that if you’ve got your sleeves rolled up, we got this. And you know what, they were right. #wevegotthis. And the best part is that “we” is so much more than just me. It’s life. It’s everyone around me that’s a part of my life, and how I am a part of theirs. Out of sight is not out of mind, at least not for me, and I try to take something great, something positive from everyone I meet.

But that too, takes courage. It means sometimes revisiting the past and seeing what went wrong, or finding what went right. It means wondering just where the rug got pulled out from under you when you weren’t looking. It also means taking a deep breath, and looking down and realizing that even without a magic carpet, maybe you really can fly.

It also means having the courage to speak up when running away is easier. It also means saying how you feel – the good stuff, the sad stuff, even the sappy stuff and the confused stuff – when staying quiet would be easier. It means saying I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions or thinking this was something it was, or wasn’t or whatever it was that went wrong.

And most of all, it means being willing to listen. To not get mad. Anger serves no purpose other than to cause pain. I have no use for anger in my life. Sure, I get mad for a few minutes but as my one friend says, I get mad for 5 minutes and then I’m over it and more interested in working together to find a way forward to make things better. I am getting better at all of this. Sure, it’s easier to ignore things and just hope things go away, but when something or someone means something to me, well, I don’t give up on people I love. But I also am not going to fight for something or someone to be in my life if they don’t want to be here. Life is all about choices. And I choose to have courage. To love completely. To live without regrets. And to always be able to stand on my own two feet and move forward regardless of who is or isn’t standing with me. I promise to listen. To see things from other’s points of view. To not push too hard or too far, but to always ask the questions that deserve answers. And I always promise to give honest answers in return – even to the hard questions, and the scary ones, and the ones that terrify me and make me wish I was anywhere but here. But I’m not. I’m right here.