There’s a story that goes something like this: In order to stay safe we need to keep things the same. Sounds rational, clear-headed and calm doesn’t it? Well I sure wanted to believe it. So much so that it became one of the guiding principles of my life for a long long time.
Don’t change your major from being pre-med. You’re three years into a microbiology and cell science major and you’re already taking practice MCAT’s.
Don’t move towns, yet again. It’s just too hard to build relationships from scratch. The vulnerability involved is entirely too risky.
Don’t have conversations with people you don’t know about race. Absolutely not. No you may not accept that invitation to do a public town-hall style speaking event where people can walk up to a mic and ask anything. Are you insane??? Sit down. In fact, take several seats.
And then came the pivot. The not going to med school. Building relationships in a new place. Having the impossible conversation.
Each time, it felt like making a hard left when instead I should have followed the gentle natural bend in the road and drifted right. It felt like violating unspoken expectations, crossing the lines that secured my ability to belong. Like choosing to go for a walk in the rain while a warm fire burns in the living room.
But it was out in the wet that I discovered how much I love the gray of constitutional law. In the high wind was where I learnt that relationships aren’t dependent on location; they’re built on mutual respect and genuine love unmoored from the condition of convenience. And it was the driving rain that pushes soaks through everything that taught me how connection changes everything.
The magic is in the pivot. In deciding to go without knowing what’s next. Reaching out for connection and risking rejection. Taking the leap after failing time and time again.
There wasn’t really safety to be found in keeping everything the same. There was the security of hiding. Of remaining unseen. Of not needing to learn how to tend to my fears and ask for help. Because it wasn’t really about staying safe at all. It was about being afraid to fail.
But maybe failure isn’t what we think it is. Maybe failure is the fulcrum of the pivot. Maybe failure is the driving wind and rain sent not to knock us down, but to nourish us and moisten the dry cracked earth of fear. So that our roots can grow deeper as our arms reach out and towards each other.
And slowly, we realize, we never really were in it by ourselves.