The Year of No Bullshit
There’s an unassuming Mexican restaurant boasting a sign lit up in neon on its front exterior: “Mexican Restaurant.” It’s only five minutes from my apartment, and so it’s become my neighborhood spot, the modern day gather-round-the-well, only in this case, it’s half-priced pitchers of margaritas. This wholly-average Mexican restaurant has been the site of breakups, reconciliations, confessions, and (mainly) a whole lot of nonsense—the kind of nonsense with friends your heart needs on an otherwise-forgettable Tuesday night. The interior overwhelms with its strong chain-restaurant vibes—think neon Miller Light signs and sombreros hanging from the walls.
It’s perfect. It’s home.
A dozen times, so far. That’s how many times I’ve been there in 2018 as I write this—so, on average, once a week. And with margaritas between us, I’ve listened to friends put words to heartbeats: fears of being disposable, fears of falling behind in careers, fears of making mistakes, fears of commitment, fears of vulnerability. All broken, fearful hearts shared over reasonably-priced Mexican fare.
I get it. I’m a naturally LET’S-STAY-SAFE-BY-ANY-MEANS fearful person.
I was a scared little kid, the product of an overactive imagination. I couldn’t sleep in my room many nights for fears that—now from the lens of a 25-year-old who understands the way anxiety twists the gift of imagination into a storyteller of Fear—were irrational: fears of fire, fears of illness, fears of thundering storms that would roll through on humid Louisiana nights. Your typical kid fears, but magnified.
I carried these nighttime anxieties with me into adolescence as they morphed into daytime anxieties, developing into full-blown panic attacks during public speaking moments or even unexpected moments, like sitting silently in a church. It wouldn’t be until college that my anxiety would ease and I could float through a speech class uninhibited like I had once done in my younger years, before I let Fear tell its worst-case scenario stories.
As a college student and then as a young adult in the professional world, these fears took on their new, more socially-acceptable role as a People Pleaser. I wanted everyone to like me, and so I did what people told me to do, especially in the professional realm, because I thought they knew best; Fear told me I couldn’t trust my own intuition, that it would be best to accept the guidance of those deemed “wiser” than me.
But now I see this is—(and won't you excuse my lack of eloquence?)—bullshit.
And so I’ve declared 2018 The Year of No Bullshit. This is a lighthearted way of naming a more serious business—a pursuit of boldness: no passivity, just honesty and compassionate directness with ourselves and with others. A pursuit that, for this people-pleasing, naturally fearful, can-we-please-avoid-confrontation-at-all-costs gal, is akin to trying to keep my overweight cat from eating my dog’s food: challenging.
But not impossible.
Telling the Truth, living the Truth, requires boldness. Because here’s the thing about Truth: often, it’s difficult to face. If we were to have a staring contest with Truth, we’d lose the majority time, because we naturally want to look away from it. Because often, Truth calls for change. And since we are humans, change is difficult and requires a lot more effort than we’re usually in the mood to offer. We avoid the hard conversations so we can avoid the Truth, and we carry unspoken grudges against friends and family or we stay in relationships that were never right for us or we ghost people altogether or we passively accept a co-worker’s underhanded comments. Confrontation is hard. Passivity is easy. We have a natural tendency to reach for easy.
But I’m realizing Fear writes some pretty dead-end stories. Fear tells you that you should seek safety always—run away from risk, wall your heart off from anything that can hurt you. That sounds like an awfully boring way to live; I wonder how much more abundant and purposeful our lives could be if we didn’t let Fear call the shots.
If you and I were at that unassuming Mexican restaurant sharing a pitcher of margaritas, I’d propose a toast: Let’s collectively claim 2018 as the year to call bullshit on the stories Fear is telling, and let’s instead lean into our lives with a sense of boldness.
TWO WEEKS TO GO AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!
In support of Windrose issue 2, we’ve launched a Kickstarter!
In issue 2, you’ll find articles like:
- "On Heartbreak and Healing"
- "The Poison of Perfectionism"
- "In Defense of Loneliness"
- "How Corporate Killed My Creativity And How I Got It Back"
- "On What It Means to Matter: An Interview with Author Hannah Brencher"
And so much more—all real life stories to assure you that you’re not alone as you navigate life in your twenties.