Jonathan - 12,183 miles, 557 hours
Last July you embarked on a sabbatical with no more than what you could strap on the back of your Harley. Fifty miles into the journey, you pulled over at a gas station terrified of what you had just thrown yourself into. Six months of living away from home and at times with people you'd never met. Six months of volunteer work with organizations you knew little about outside of their core mission. Six months of riding a 700 pound Harley you'd only had for eight months. And six months of dealing with anxiety and depression you hadn't shared with anyone up to that point, with your best friends and family thousands of miles away. Smooth moves dude.
In an effort to eliminate your problems and forget about the daunting road that lied ahead, you did what you’ve always done. You pressed on alone, convincing yourself that by sheer force of will you’d be able to make things better. Into the black, once again.
And over the course of the next six months things did get better. A lot better in fact. I’d say that sitting down to write this letter today things are hands down the best they’ve ever been since you got out of school. So, into the black it is huh?
Not quite. You are where you are today not by turning inward. Not by brute forcing your way through it. Not by shutting everyone else out in the hope to make life less complicated. Instead, you opened your mind, and more importantly your heart, to the possibility that by letting others peer into your life well beyond that which lies on the surface level, that maybe some of them would care. That maybe some of them would even help.
While I know you find it hard to believe that anyone could possibly care, it in fact turns out that many of them do quite a lot. And of those who were there to follow you in your journey, many of them were even there taking time out of their day to help you and to support you. As it turns out many of them were actually there the whole time. All it took to realize this was to step into the light.
With overwhelming support, you began to love yourself for who you are. Not for who you stare at in the mirror for hours a day, or who you want others to think you are, or who looks good on copy. Instead, unconditional love only for the person that sits between you and yourself. By loving yourself you grew more confident and more comfortable with who you are. This confidence gave you the strength to be vulnerable, and vulnerability allowed you to connect with others in your life on a level that contained more meaning than ever. On a level that finally allowed you to reflect the love you've always had for others outward to the community. Calling on the cliche, you finally realized that to love someone else, you first need to love yourself.
Six months later, you now embark on what feels like the next chapter of your life. While the previous was meant to be all about Doin' IT for the Kids, it clearly grew to be so much more than that. You leaned into your community, and in turn they were right for you with an outpouring of love to bolster you up. Now, with a newfound confidence and love for yourself, you have the opportunity to be there for them with vulnerability, compassion, and love to match. Full circle. What a beautiful thing.