When I was younger, I thought I was Invincible.
I mean, I didn’t consciously believe that I was a Superhero or anything. I never admittedly thought that “Nothing can happen to me.”
Generally, I was a cautious kid who (mostly) played by the rules. I enjoyed Achieving. I listened to my parents and my teachers and the people at our school assemblies. The ones who warned us, “This can happen to you — look at me.”
Because in the moment — those stories, those warnings — they scared me.
But, when I look back at how I acted, the messages didn’t truly sink in: I drove (kind of) recklessly. I ate egg & cheese bagels for breakfast. I drank beers and climbed fences and did Regular Teenage Stuff.
I never actually thought That Could Be Me.
Well, I can’t tell you when it happened.
I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment when my perception changed. But, one day I realized: I actually was scared. I wasn’t invincible.
All of a sudden, those real issues — sickness, accidents, attacks —ones that always seemed like they were at least an arm’s length away, now felt possible.
I couldn’t stop thinking: That Could Happen To Me.
It began to permeate all that I did. Whether I was going to the grocery store, or riding the subway to work, I started to look at those who surrounded me with skepticism. With fear. With the thought — would these people be the last ones I was with?
I mean, these fears are based on Real, Live events that are saturating our media and our thoughts and our conversations. Ones that we cannot just brush away with the swipe of a hand.
There’s no shame in denying, this is scary shit. And, it’s okay to feel that way.
I also realized that up until this point, I was shielded from the harsh realities of our world. I was lucky enough that “something terrible” meant I didn’t get the Christmas presents I wanted.
Now, “something terrible” meant that people I loved, I cared about, I knew could no longer be Here.
And while I am fully aware this recognition that the world is Scary isn’t typical for everyone upon entering Adulthood, it’s shitty nonetheless. I know that for some of Us, Being Scared is a feeling just as normal as going to school. Some of Us weren’t so lucky to have been protected from the harsh realities of the World until this point.
But, this Loss of Innocence — no matter what age you are — is a difficult one to grapple with. You are constantly thinking, It Could Have Been Me.
Before this so-called Loss of Innocence, “It Could Have Been Me” is an ethereal, wispy reminder that only surfaces once in awhile. And afterwards, “It Could Have Been Me” feels like a sucker-punch that merely fades over time.
It’s somehow always there.
But okay —the world is not going to end. Although it may feel like it.
So, is that It? Do we just give in to the sucker-punch and let it wrestle us down?
We keep fighting. We use those thoughts as motivation, as daily reminders that This Might Be It. That Today Might Be Our Last.
Seriously. There ain’t no better motivation to live in the present than your fear.
We turn that sucker-punch feeling into energy. Into movement. Into reminders that life truly is beautiful, and our Downs only leave room for higher Ups. We keep climbing up those hills our Downs create each any every day.
We remember that this is Life, and we have to take advantage of every person, every moment. We can’t just expect that Our People will be here tomorrow. We have to love them, and tell them that we do.
We can’t get lazy.
So, No — we don’t allow ourselves to just Be Scared. We acknowledge that it’s there, that it’s Real, but it’s not holding us back.
Fear of the Real World can only push us forward.
Here’s to finding that energy.