Bye-bye safe zone

I celebrated my birthday yesterday. It was one of the best to date. I received love from friends, family and strangers alike.

My niece and nephew serenaded me with a perfect rendition of the Happy Birthday song.

The weather was easy, breezy and beautiful (something worth celebrating since this temperamental New York City weather has been uncooperative for most of the year).

Can you believe I even took the day off from work too?! And to cap it all off, I had dinner in Chelsea with my favorite person.

So it was only right to give myself a gift that lived up to the hype of my special day.

Nope, I didn’t order a book to add to the seven I’ve yet to crack open yet. No, I didn’t buy a few pairs of skinny pants to match my new svelte frame. And my parents will be relieved to know I didn’t squander a few months’ rent to book that bucket-list trip to Greece.

Sure, those gifts make for double-tap-worthy social media fodder. But as I head into 32, I wanted to give myself something with a little bit more staying power. A present that would shift the trajectory of my life into the direction of my wildest dreams.

That’s why I broke up with fear for my birthday. (Cue the confetti, balloons and streamers!)

Until yesterday, fear and I had been in a serious long-term relationship. We first met in the aftermath of a relative calling me an ugly slur. Fear suggested that the only way to avoid the shame, guilt and anger my nine-year-old self felt was to do two things.

The first: Shrink so everyone around me would feel comfortable, even at the expense of my own joy. As for the second? Fear told me to take up permanent residence in the The Safe Zone — where the living is easy, but also boring, unfulfilling and soul-sucking.

In hindsight, the thing about fear is that it had weird timing.

We didn’t talk or hang out every day. The only time fear showed up was when I was about to do something that aligned with my sincerest desires. And because that meant I needed to step out of The Safe Zone, fear was like, “Nah son, stay home: It’s dangerous out there. Wait a little while longer — you can’t afford another heartbreak, disappointment or setback.”

And so I did what fear said. For more than 20 years, to be exact.

But here’s what I’ve discovered: Fear thrives on our arrogance. As long as we believe we have forever to wait for the “perfect scenario,” fear knows it has a resting place in our lives. So fear tricks us into thinking we have forever to make it happen.

That, of course, isn’t the case though. It’s quite the opposite. We don’thave forever. Which is why I broke up with fear.

Because I want to fall in love for the last time. And travel the world. And be about that bicoastal life. And pay for my niece and nephew’s college. And maybe have a child of my own? And contribute to causes and movements I believe in. And write books. And whatever else falls on my spirit in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

All that is too much for fear to handle. And to that I say, “fear’s loss, not mine.”

So yesterday morning — after I rinsed off my Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy and Moisturizing Moon Masks — I packed up from The Safe Zone and ended things with fear.

I’m not naive though. I know like most exes, fear will be on my mind for a while. Some good stuff happened while we were together. And I’m sure I’ll miss the trappings of The Safe Zone from time to time. Especially when I experience heartbreak, disappointment and setback again.

But I owe it to myself to live a full life. A free life. An abundant life. With someone who wants the same.

And you owe it to yourself to live the kind of life that gives you the butterflies I’m currently experiencing.

So reply to this email if you need help moving your things out of The Safe Zone. I’m always down to lend a hand. :)

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