“You Were Never Afraid”

For a friend, who I hope will understand how dearly her casual comment moved me.

I remember it clear as day. I was shaking with goodbyes, faint with all the emotional energy surging through me, floating a centimetre off the floor. You gave me a hug, and with every second that ticked past in that brief moment, I was reminded of the small, yet subtly intimate journey I had travelled with you. It struck me with a certain heartache, a bittersweet reflection of the different paths we had decided to take. Once upon a time, we were closer, and I only realised just how lovely you were when I was leaving. I suppose that’s how it is with some small friendships. You only realise later how delicately someone touched your soul.

What followed after will stick out in my mind, like the only light on after the street has gone to sleep. Comforting and soft, and yet so boldly standing out.

“You know, you were never afraid to just be yourself.”

Of all the words I was offered that day, of all the compliments and confessions, all the fanfares and farewells, yours will always have a place in my heart. If we never talk again, if we lose touch – if our roads diverge so far in the woods – I’m glad that those were your parting words.

I can’t even explain how scared I am sometimes, to just be myself. There are days when I feel too loud, too weird, too crazy. There are days I wish I could be a mirror of other people: I see sophistication and admiration granted in them in quantities I feel are unreachable for someone so rough around the edges as me. Being myself is sometimes not my Plan A – I want to seem more approachable, more outgoing, the sandpapered, polished version of a more self-aware self. 

So to hear someone praise me for my down-to-earth demeanour, to receive a standing ovation for being brave enough to present myself as-is, it meant the world to me.

Your words were like aloe vera for my troubled conscious, fresh and soothing, organic and real. Your words were like the first ray of sunshine after a week full of rain, bright and loving, warm and freeing. 

On the days when I’m feeling particularly uncomfortably self-aware, days when my skin crawls with the gnawing feeling of being and my stomach falls with the weight of consciousness, know that your words find a way to make me light again.

“You know, you were never afraid to just be yourself.”

I am so so afraid. But you make me want to be brave.

8 thoughts on ““You Were Never Afraid”

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