On January 7th of this year, I turned 26 years old. Two days later, I got laid off from my job.
Not a great birthday present. Definitely not a great start to 2018.
I remember fleeing to an empty foyer of the office building and calling my dad in a panic. “What am I going to do?” I wailed into the phone, letting out the tears I’d held in during the awful meeting. Once he reassured me that the world was not ending and that my life would indeed go on, I was able to return dry-eyed yet shaky-lipped to my cubicle. The rest of the day was a blur.
Allow me to pause this very sad story and rewind just a couple of weeks earlier to Christmas of 2017, when I received a gift that would shake up my life even more than a job loss could.
This little book had caught my eye one night during a stroll through the shops at Peddler’s Village. I leafed through it and skimmed the pages of quotes, all of which inspired daily bravery and risk-taking and uninhibited boldness in guided journal format. I was intrigued. The whole concept of the book felt like a challenge, and I rarely turn down a good dare.
“I want this,” I said aloud to my mom, who was browsing the shelves of knickknacks nearby. “I want this for Christmas. And I’ll start using it the first day of the new year.”
Which is exactly what I did–at the end of every single day of 2018, I opened the little book and recorded my acts of bravery. And, second only to my Bible, it has been a critical source of inspiration, guidance, and encouragement during this bucking bronco of a year.
So when I lost the job and was briefly sucked into a black hole of despair and confusion, a bold idea yanked me out of that dark place: Take advantage of the layoff and go on the Italy trip you’ve been dreaming of since childhood. And do it alone.
A two-month-long solo adventure through a country I’ve never even visited? As a slightly agoraphobic introvert with no sense of direction and hardly any knowledge of public transportation, just the thought of a journey of this magnitude filled me with fear.
And off I went.
To make a long, long, long year short, this book inspired me to take leaps of boldness and explore unknown territory in many different areas:
- I trekked through the country of my ancestors, honed my Italian language skills, made new friends in hostels and train stations, and reconnected with a distant relative
- I finally gave someone a chance and tried out a relationship for the first time…and though it didn’t work out, it taught me lessons I didn’t even know I needed to learn.
- I went on dates with strangers
- I went on a camping trip with six strangers, all men (probably not smart)
- I ran a few races including a quarter marathon, my longest running distance yet
- I learned how to let go of people who didn’t want to stay
- I learned how to let in new people who were very different than me
- I bought a new car and started a new job
- I started a blog about a subject that requires a lot of vulnerability
- I partnered with someone I had met a month earlier to start a podcast on said subject
- I flew to Arizona to spend a weekend with a friend I haven’t seen since high school
- I took on new clients as a freelance writer and editor
- I started learning French (ce n’est pas facile)
- I learned how to have difficult and humbling conversations with people I love
- I fully invested in my relationship with God and saw my faith grow exponentially as a result
- I made a decision that will require me to be even bolder in the new year.
Today I ordered a new copy of that little book on Amazon. Here’s to making 2019 another year of facing fears, taking leaps of faith, and becoming a better version of myself every day.
“Boldness, and again boldness, and always boldness.” – George Jacques Danton