My parents were 20 and 22 when I was conceived. They were just dating, and I was an unplanned surprise. My mother placed me for adoption, which I completely understand now that I’m grown. I went home with a family from Texas I believe, though I don’t know their names. I was there, I think happy and safe, for several months.
Then my dad decided to get me back. I don’t quite understand how it all happened, because no one likes to talk about it, but he went to court, at some point punched out a bailiff, and in the end my two young, inexperienced, unmarried parents regained custody of me.
I’m told the first night I was home with them in their apartment they had a party with the prostitutes from across the street. Then they put me to bed in the bottom drawer of a dresser, because they had no baby things. And that was the beginning of me.
It turns out my mother had postpartum depression. She didn’t know that at the time. No one knew that at the time. She was just terribly unhappy, and medicated herself with alcohol. Life was topsy turvy and scary for me as a young kid, because I never knew what to expect. I don’t remember much of it, to be honest, probably because I just don’t want to.
All I can say is this: from the very start, I have been dedicated to comfort and safety. Life was a little too unpredictable for little me, so I grew up convinced that my job was to make things safe, to protect myself and to create an environment where I knew what to expect. Control, safety and security.
Things you will never see me doing: skydiving, going to dangerous places, walking alone at night. If I perceive something as unsafe, even if it really isn’t, I’m having none of it. My childhood coping mechanism, to do well in school and be a good kid and try to make everybody happy and prevent any outbursts or issues and stay away from danger has extended into adulthood. I’m the first to admit it.
Yet safety is not my friend, at least not always. Safety means never speaking up. Never going anywhere or doing anything. It means keeping your head low and your voice quiet. Turns out I’m not the keep your voice quiet kinda girl, which means I have no other choice than to strike out and do while racked with fear and trembling.
There are so many books, webinars, speeches and articles telling us we should be fearless, and yet I don’t know what that means. I’ve never known what that means. Still, I have accomplished. I have made change. I have done what I would consider to be big things, and yet I was terrified the whole time and continue to be. Screw being fearless. I’m just fine being one of the scaredy-cats.
If you’re like me and you see these cultural messages telling you that you need to be fearless and you think to yourself, “I don’t feel that way and so it must be that I can’t do big things,” I’m here to call bullshit on that. You can do all sorts of things when you’re afraid.
You don’t have to be fearless to be fierce.