For the past week I’ve been on vacation with my in laws in Vancouver. It was my first time on the West Coast and it will certainly not be my last. My highlights were hugging giant trees, seeing the cherry blossoms and mountains, spending time with family, watching a dance performance, and getting my first tattoo.
As some of you will know, travelling is a challenge for me. Ever since a nightmare trip two years ago, the whole idea of travelling has seemed repulsive and anxiety provoking. The increased risk of contracting an illness from being enclosed with a group of strangers, the possibility of ruining a vacation from being sick, and the anxiety that arises at the thought of being sick away from home again, all make it torture to be inside my head. This fear affected how I felt about going, but I did not let it affect whether or not I went. This trip was important and I was committed to live my value of tribe, even if it meant facing my fear of travelling. Admittedly, I did wear a mask on the plane ride to Vancouver and although that may appear crazy and seem mouse-y, I felt stronger for it. I was living my value of being with tribe and looking after my need to feel safe at the same time. And honestly, it actually takes guts to wear a mask on a plane. Disregarding what others thought of me and continually making that commitment to myself, despite the looks, was a challenge in itself.
I’m proud to say the dragon was on fire from the time of takeoff and throughout the entire trip. Besides travelling itself, I had the opportunity to test my courage and face fears in a number of ways. I faced my fear of heights by crossing a suspension bridge 230 feet off the ground, walking a trail off a cliff edge with a see-through floor, and walking through treetop suspension bridges at 110 feet. It was challenging and exhilarating. During the trip I also drove in downtown Vancouver at rush hour – something I had been very anxious about beforehand, something I would have easily said “I can’t do that, you do that”.
It’s funny how circumstances that force us into situations we want to avoid, are actually opportunities that can be immensely beneficial and empowering. It’s true what they say, sometimes we have to get out of our own way. It makes me question how many times I’ve said “I couldn’t do that” and just believed it, and by default reinforced it by simply not trying. By saying this to ourselves over and over again we develop these ideas of who we are; when in reality it could be changed if we challenged it just once. I’ve made a decision to actively keep a lookout for those automatic judgments, to listen for those “I can’t do that” reactions, and when I hear them to make my best effort to test them. The last thing I ended up going through with on this trip was getting my first tattoo; which I also faced like a dragon and am ridiculously happy with.
Our trip to Vancouver was a meaningful family vacation; we created memories that will be cherished forever. This trip also held personal lessons and revelations, as well as many opportunities to live my values. I was able to meet my needs, even when it meant speaking up and slightly inconveniencing others. I didn’t have to be quietly complacent and hope that my needs and desires would be met – I took actions to make it happen. And you know what? It didn’t make me mean or take away from other people’s needs being met. Instead of staying quiet and ending up feeling resentful, I spoke up and was able to feel fulfilled. Turned out putting my needs on the same level as others’ didn’t make me a terrible person- in fact it made me a more genuine, connected, member of the family. I could have had an okay trip, instead I had an awesome one and I am overfilled with love and gratitude for those I shared it with.
Showing up as the dragon in this new situation was more proof of my commitment to be the dragon- no matter what. There’s no way I’m going back to that mouse life. Which leads me to my tattoo.. the promise I made, the message I wear.
The message. Live now and live fiercely.
Don’t simply exist, LIVE. No more waiting, the time is NOW. Be fully immersed in every excruciating and beautiful moment life has to offer. LIVE a life of intent, based on values. Live a life of passion and purpose. Grasp life and love as FIERCELY as possible.
The promise. Be the dragon.
Have the courage to be the dragon, unconditionally. Being me, unapologetically. Being as big and strong as I can. Listening to what makes me feel weaker and stronger, and giving myself permission to do what’s most healthy for me. Being committed to not minimize myself or defy the dragon by making myself a mouse.
I had this etched into my skin because I am dedicated to live my life this way, and to encourage and empower others to do the same.
The dragon is here to stay – permanently.