It’s amazing how the mindset of “nothing to lose” can totally change your stars. So often, we hear that phrase and associate it with apathy and indifference. But the “whatever, man” response so popular with the adolescent demographic isn’t actually about having nothing to lose. It’s about choosing not to feel or care about what might be lost, a numbness of the will. Once life knocks you around a bit and shows you what’s real, the “nothing to lose” mindset is about knowing exactly what’s at stake to spend your life alive and being willing to walk away from anything else to protect that.
I think all these many months and miles have been precisely preparing me for a conversation I need to have this week. I don’t know what it might cost me, or how things might change, but I know that all I’ve experienced in the last few years has finally formed me into a woman who isn’t afraid to say exactly what she needs. It wasn’t so long ago I found myself staring down at a chalk outline of the person I used to be – so afraid, so stuck, so very lonely – and since then I have been slowly and painfully trying to let God breathe some warmth into my lungs and reanimate me into someone with a lot of life in her life. I’ve put away as much of the shame and doubt as I can, determined to see myself through the eyes of the incredible people who’ve been sent into my life to love me without limit. I’ve demanded of myself to see life as both short and long, and to only take gratitude and freedom from times of loss instead of despair. I’ve become radically accepting and attentive to that one steady voice I discovered in my absolute gut, the one that tells me my passions and priorities are not accidents or inconveniences, but rather my north on the compass.
At the heart of it all, I’ve learned that nothing – nothing – is worth whatever wealth or pride or comfort or success you can accomplish (and I believe me, when I set my mind to it, I can out-accomplish just about anyone I know) if it costs you yourself. That probably sounds pretty crunchyfeelgood to you, but what I mean is the you you. Your humanity, your compassion, your spark, your curiosity, your delight. All the things that differentiate you from a high functioning but lifeless machine. If you’re emptying yourself, draining yourself dry, something is amiss. You should give of yourself, greatly and often and in many directions, but giving of yourself to the right ends will always mysteriously leave you with more spirit than you gave. Really, I’m just waxing poetic on what was said best long ago – “For what does a person benefit if he gains the whole world and lacks his soul?”
So, what is it I must say in this immensely important conversation? It is, in essence, that I must be able to tend to my whole self to be my best self, and nothing less will do. And there is quite literally nothing I wouldn’t lose to have it, because I already did.