Well, it's been over a month since my last blog post and I am happy to say that my incision is all healed up and I am feeling strong and healthy. In the time since my last post, I did a lot of reflecting, connecting with friends and working away at plans for what I want this website to become.
Today has been one of those yuck days where I feel very self conscious and unsure of myself. This past week I've been working on setting up an instagram account for my blog (@discovering.whats.possible) where I will be sharing my journey with "the world" rather than mostly just friends and family like on my personal account.
*Nerves* but also *Excitement*
Part of building this website means promoting it and gathering more followers and although that's what I want, that is also the part that gives me waves of uncertainty that sometimes a restless and anxiety filled sleep. I have written stories about farting and pooping after all. But that's kind of inevitable if you are going to share your journey through colon cancer I suppose.
So why do I want to do this anyway?
Prior to my getting diagnosed with cancer, I had this deep desire to write openly and honestly about my experiences in life. I noticed that the social norm for our species is to pretend that everything is great even though we are often struggling and that to be vulnerably honest is somehow taboo. How many times have we responded "Good" or "Great" when asked "How's it going?" by a friend or colleage when in fact, the truth is that our marriage is falling apart, or someone close to us is struggling wth addiction, or we are drowning in debt and wondering how to pay for car repairs to get to our job, or were suffering from depression, etc., etc., etc?
We, as a species, have come to associate shame with anything other than the outward appearance of "having it all together." More often than not, we suffer silently and alone. I want to change that.
I feel like if we could all just find the courage to be open, honest and completely real about our lives, we would realize that we all have more in common with one another than not. Being real about our experiences would help us better relate to one another, kick shame to the curb, improve mental and physical wellbeing and build strong, meaningful connections and support networks. It just seems totally ridiculous for anyone to struggle in silence when we are all experiencing or have experienced similar feelings and emotions. We are not the social outcast our shame makes us out to be.
And so, on the day of my diagnosis; the day that my medical team and I did not yet know if I just had a little cancer or if it had metastasized throughout my whole body, I decided I was going to be brave and share my stories. Raw and authentically. The good, the bad, the ugly and the sometimes hilarious. The fear of death is a great motivator.
But it wasn't easy; and to be completely honest, it's still not. Every time I hit the 'publish' button on a blog post I am consumed with feelings of anxiety and self doubt. "Why did I just tell everyone that?" "Everyone is going to think I'm nuts." "I'm going to be judged and shunned." "I sound like a huge whiner." All of those thoughts swirl around in my noggin and I usually retreat to the trails to try and forget about it for a while. Tree's don't judge after all. And as the scent of the forrest works its magic and soothes my nerves, I begin to take each of those thoughts and analyze them objectively and with compassion. Is it true? and Does it matter? are some of the questions I ask myself.
Ultimately, the conclusion that I always arrive at is: this who I am, this is my authentic personal experience of my life, and there is no reason to be ashamed of it. This is my story. And if I am judged, so what? Everyone has a right to their opinion and judgement is often just projection anyway. It is up to me if I want to hold that judgment as a personal truth or not (although admittedly feeling that within is much easier said than done).
If there is one thing that I have learned from working through the struggles that I have overcome in my life, it is this: the more you work at it, the easier it gets. It is only when we embrace the darkness that we find the light. I would like to think that someday I will be completely confident in sharing my stories and go to bed feeling good about the positive impact I've made in the world (no matter how big or small) rather than tossing and turning in anxious self doubt. I trust it will happen. In the meantime, I'm going to keep sharing, tossing and turning.
So, I would like to end this post by encouraging you to be brave, honest and true to your story. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to blurt out all of your woes in depth when someone asks you "How's it going?" but there is nothing wrong with saying "Life has thrown me some lemons and I don't have the lemonade recipe" in times of hardship. We all become stronger when we can come together, relate and understand one another. No one needs to struggle alone or feel shame for where they are in life. We are all just humans trying to navigate the matrix after all. It's time we go easy on ourselves.
Peace, love and thank you for following me on my journey thorough life,
JessiIf you would like to get an even more up close and personal look at my journey through life, please follow me on my new instagram account @discovering.whats.possible.