Say Yes to the Unexpected
Words by Arielle Bacon
Expectation. Maybe you’re a starry-eyed dreamer whose heart beats a little faster at the anticipation of what is around the corner when you hear the word. Or maybe, just maybe, you are like me and feel an inexplicable weight at the thought of it because what goes up must come down.
Expectations were made to either be met or shattered, and life is a lot easier when you keep the bar low - both for yourself and others. This is just a fact of life. But I’ve come to learn in the past year that easy living does not equate to full living, and saying “yes” has a tendency to open doors that “no” could never even begin to touch. It’s risky, vulnerable business standing so close to disappointment’s edge, but let me tell you - every time I choose to climb a little higher up the ladder of expectation, my heart becomes infinitely braver with each rung.
You see, until a year or so ago, I was a professional pessimist. If I had high expectations in anything, it was in the fact that I was going to be disappointed. It was a bit of nature I am not proud to admit that I nurtured for as long as I did.
I didn’t always think this way. In fact, I remember exactly when “no” became my default defense mechanism and the walls went up. It was the autumn of 2009 and I was 14 years old. After months of deliberation, I chose to step away from the church I had essentially grown up in. I was five when my family began attending there, and the majority of my friendships were created and maintained within those walls. Little did I know that the moment I took that first step, I was no longer a part of the country club and every single relationship I had invested in - as much as a child and young teen could invest, at least - would be gone in an instant. There were no text messages. There were no phone calls. There were people who did not even notice my presence missing six months to a year after I stopped attending.
This is when I began to believe that I was safer with me, myself, and I. This is when I backed down the ladder and began holding every possible good thing an arm length’s away, because it surely could not be meant for me. I was disposable, so I waved vulnerability goodbye.
I spent nearly a decade afterwards moving through life on a surface level. People I called friends never truly knew me. I held people like a bouquet of balloons - far enough away that it wouldn’t hurt if they happened to float off. What I did not realize at the time, was that my quest to hide from others ultimately inhibited me from knowing myself.
All of that changed last year. You see, I happened upon three particular people a few years ago who truly rocked my world. I kept up my guise for quite a while (a solid three years, to be exact), waiting for them to leave - because that is just what people did. But they held on. Not only did they hold on, they gently began to work their way through the walls I spent 10 years building. They took anything I would give them, and then they would dig a little deeper. At first, I resisted. Greatly. How dare they target me and my security net? Who gave them permission to see me?
As they started to dig, I began working my way ahead, attempting to find any escape route or red herring that could work in my favor. Instead, I came face to face with myself. I saw what they were unearthing, and I barely recognized any bit of it. But it was me - pieces I had tucked away because it was better to be safe than to be sorry. There was a lot to uncover, but as I began to come to terms with the fact that I had hoarded so much of what I had to offer away, I found myself. Little by little, my expectation to remain invisible in life began to fracture until there was only one word my lips could find to utterly shatter it altogether: “Yes.”
First, I whispered it to myself.
Permission to take a key to deadlocks I had forgotten had even existed.
Permission to find value and worth in who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming.
Permission to experience me. All of me.
Then, I knew it was time. My whisper was no longer bound for only my ears. Hello, vulnerability.
Permission to be seen.
Permission to be known.
Permission to be loved.
In giving myself away, I learned what it meant to receive. In choosing to believe that someone could stay, I found myself willing to hold on a little tighter. Every time I choose to step across the line from expectation to experience, I’m choosing to live in the fullest freedom that comes with saying “yes.” To be seen. To be known. To be loved.
There is something about getting a little uncomfortable that is a magnet for the abundant life experience. Don’t be mistaken - you have a choice. There are two, one syllable words to choose from in every moment. One is certainly safer, but if it doesn’t cost anything, what is it truly worth?
Here’s to saying “Yes.” Here’s to finding doors swung open and running through, because today, vulnerability is a victory. Here’s to dissolving expectations and daring to dance on the edge. Are you going to join?
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About the Author:
Arielle Bacon is a wonder seeker living and working in Southeastern Virginia. Her favorite show is Jeopardy by a landslide, and when she isn't teaching piano or processing cut flowers, she can be found devouring a book or melody while sipping on a cup of hot tea.