I heard something today that made me consider how and why I approach any given situation as I do. “You can’t thrive in survival mode . . . [you don’t] get to chase your passion.”  Thinking about it has cracked a thin piece of glass that seems to have been glazed over my brain.

When I think of “survival mode” I don’t readily see how it applies to me—from a physical standpoint.  My world is comfortable, but not lavish, with access to healthy foods, medical care, entertainment, books, art, dependable transportation and assorted other creature comforts of life.

Deeper down, beyond a physical view, I am not thriving. Why?  

Putting the “physical” aspect of survival aside, I realize I don’t understand to concept survive vs. thrive.  My entire life I have firmly believed that life is here to survive.  Get through.  Deal with it.  Endurance equals strength—even virtue.

This model is based in my personal experience and upbringing.  Joy is great if it happens to happen, but don’t count on it.  Dread, fear, helplessness, hating myself, not feeling good enough—those are concretely dependable. 

Yet, I have met people that seem to have a natural joy, playfulness, interests they love, and the ability to separate day-to-day anxiousness from fully ingrained and constant panic.  How do they do that?  How are they thriving and not just surviving?

I’m starting to see everyone’s survival story is different.  With the opportunity to learn more about mine, with the help, perspective and objectivity of others, I have a pretty good idea why I am in a constant state of running from what I perceive as predators.  

Why have I accepted the unavoidability of fright so far into life?  Why is it always there?  What if my fright is stupid?  What if it actually does keep me safe?  What if it holds me back from a purpose that I really want to find?  

A lot of “what ifs.”  However, I am stepping away from my live-long toxic acceptance of fear and apprehension (at least taking tiny steps).  I don’t want to survive.  I want to thrive and find/pursue my passion (whatever that is).  The thin glaze of glass has cracked and is chipping away.  

Now what?  What if I can’t?  What if it’s too late?  What if I can’t shake the fear and break-out?  Do I need to be drastic?  Do I need to be calculated?  Do I need to just listen?  I think these are all valid questions to ask myself—but these questions have tended to lead to self-doubt, before.

So, I’ll try to make the little chips first.  My gut and I have not always had a very trusting relationship.  I either haven’t trusted her or gaslighted her.  But she seems to be a persistent sucker and is telling me I can thrive and feel passionate.  Time to listen—she knows me well.

This is scary, new territory for me.  I hope I don’t screw this up.  The fear is still there; however, it’s more of the fear of not trying to thrive.  

As I start this new road trip, I expect to see new things.  I expect to learn new things.  I expect to work hard.  I expect that I will fail along the way. I expect that some people may not like it.  I except that I will have to be flexible.  I expect that I will be uncomfortable at times. I expect that I will, ultimately, get there. 

J. A. L.

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