A few years ago I cracked open a fortune cookie and inside was a small slip of paper that said something like, "What would you do if you were not afraid?"
I remember at the time thinking I would do things like adopt. Run marathons. Get more education.
All of those seem really good, at least on paper. I'd love and welcome more children into my life, but at this point my primary focus is getting the two I have in college and on their way into the world (and spoiling the heck out of my soon-to-be-born great-nephew). I'm not in love with running, which might make marathon training a bit tedious. I still dream of getting more education, but the thought of paying for it makes me feel a little sick so I just read a lot. No one cares either way, except me, and it's much cheaper.
Today, at almost forty, when I think about what I would do if I wasn't afraid, the answer is a little more simple and a lot more complex.
I would answer the phone on the first ring.
I wouldn't feel fear in my heart when I heard my email "ping".
I would write. Even the things that are hard. Especially the things that are hard.
I would tell people the truth, even if the truth isn't pretty and isn't what they want to hear. I try to do that in general, but there are just certain people who I fear can't handle it. So I sugarcoat it. Which is doing exactly zero favors to anyone.
I would tell my husband that sometimes I love him so much that it absolutely terrifies me. That it feels so, so scary to care about another person in that way.
I would unfriend the crappy people on Facebook, not just block them.
I would recognize that I'm doing my best in so many aspects of my life and the only person who thinks it's still not good enough is me. Okay, and maybe some of my customers, but when someone expects everything five minutes ago their opinion only goes so far.
I would say, "The way you treat me is not acceptable and I'm not going to be a part of your life if it continues". And mean it. And do it.
I would actually be okay with saying "I'm not in love with running", because right now admitting that feels like a failure.
I would say, "You don't do enough and you need to do better."
I would say, "I don't want you in my life anymore because you've proven a million times that I'm not worth the effort." And mean it. And do it.
I would not be afraid to tell people that I care about them. That I love them. That I worry about them. I would not be concerned about their reactions and just love; endlessly, unabashedly, and with my whole heart.
That's what I would do.