The risk

July 2, 2012 — 11 Comments

This is the risk you run in the few days following a major life changing decision: You will start to doubt yourself, and feel a little bit silly.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity in your life where you just understood all of a sudden that you had to do something? That you had to change something, or say something, or remove someone or stand for something and in that moment, you feel the adrenaline of realization pumping through your system, you are energized, you know you are making the right decision and in that moment, God help anyone that stands in your way!

But then the next day, as you wake up, you shake your head a little bit whilst thinking ‘I was being a bit over the top yesterday I think’ and you feel a little bit silly for getting so passionate and there you are. Back to reality.

You know what I hate about that? Everything.

You have this one moment of clarity and honesty, you have this one moment where you are humble enough to admit a fault or a flaw or see something you need to address or you have that rush of bravery where you decide make that move, or to buy that plane ticket or to quit your job and start that business… What ever it is, it’s your own! And in that moment it is so important and you can see that it needs to happen, but give life long enough and it will blow the edges from the importance off that epiphany.

Yes. Sleep on it, watch some MTV, check Facebook a few times and soon enough, you will be shaking your head over the whole idea wondering how you got to be so silly….
I hate this.
Sure, if you get high one night and suddenly understand that you could save hundreds on your power bill by rubbing deep heat all over your naked body during those long winter nights instead of turning on the heater, then that particular type of epiphany may be best thrown out with the reality check the next morning but that is not what I am speaking of.

I’m talking about those real moments where you see what you are doing. Where you see what you are. And you see what you need to do to make the change you sense you’ve needed to make for a long, long time.
Maybe you need to quit something. That cigarette, that drink, that habit, that drug, that person, that lover. Maybe there is nothing to quit at all, maybe you need to stop quitting and actually stick with something…Start something for once in your life. Enroll in University, apply for that job, ask him out, say I’m sorry, ask for forgiveness, forgive the person who broke you, pack the suitcase, pursue that dream… what ever it is, don’t mistake those moments of understanding and purpose, for moments of silliness. They are not silly thoughts. Keep them! Keep them close to you!
They may be the only honest things you have.
On the morning of the third day, I had that ‘this is a bit silly’ feeling. I nearly let it get to me. It hung around my mind all day, like the smoke that rises after you blow birthday candles out. The celebration is over, the hip-hip hoorays have been cheered, and someone has gone and blown out the candles on that cake, and now it’s just you and that smoke. You and that reality.

I spent the morning of day three being mocked by something inside me that was so determined to resist this change I was trying to initiate in my life. I felt silly, I felt foolish, I felt impulsive for vowing something so extreme. One thousand single days Vanessa? Really?
But then I took a time out and had a long think. Was this silly? Was it really?
After sitting on the edge of my bed and questioning it all I suddenly thought, Hang on a second… this isn’t silly at all is it? This is legitimate!

This is going to change my life. This isn’t deep heat rubbed all over a cold body in winter kind of idea; this is the decision that’s going to change it all. “

…..Isn’t it?

I received an email from one of the readers of my blog recently.
She began ‘I just wanted to let you know that I’ve done this before. It is the best thing I’ve ever done. I am at day 1277….’
For someone embarking on something like I am now, it can feel like you are walking alone in the dark a little bit. You don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what’s around the corner, and you don’t know what the end will look like. To get a message from someone who is already there was a wonderful turn of events.

Her name is Erin; she is in the same year of the Nursing Degree on the same campus as I am, though I don’t think we have ever shared a class. Erin has been humble enough and transparent enough to share her story with me over the course of several email exchanges, and I should tell you, this girl has one hell of a story to tell.
I have gratefully been allowed a small glimpse into her life and why she decided to abstain from dating, and what has evolved from this choice.
She is now my trailblazer. My pioneer.
Any doubt I may have had at the possible benefits of these few years committed to singledom have been eased by her testimony. This woman is strong, intelligent, focused, at peace and confident. She is the very epitome of what I hope to be after these 1000 days are up.

I have no doubt that the qualities that are so easy to see in her, this strength and focus that is radiating from her life has a lot to do with the fact that for 1277 days, she has been single, and used that time to take life by its horns. “The main thing that I have discovered in my many single days is what it is to be happy by myself and enjoy my own company. I used to think I needed somebody to love me to be complete. I have a wonderful family and close friends…I have love in my life.”
This statement from her impacted me…  I have a wonderful family and close friends…I have love in my life.
In choosing to commit a period of your life to being single, you are not choosing to endure a period of life that will be absent of love. You are choosing to explore and experience every other form that love presents itself in. There is far, far more forms to love than just the one a lover or spouse can offer you.
According to the Greeks, love comes in 4 forms:
Eros love is the physical love, the sensual love between two people.

Philia love means friendship or affectionate love. It is a dispassionate virtuous love. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity

While less often used, Storge love refers to family love, the bond among mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.

And then. Then there is the love of all loves. Agape Love.
Agape love is the unconditional love, the sacrificial love. It is the highest of the four types of love. It is the selfless love of one person for another.  So wonderful, and so beautiful, Agape was appropriated by Christians for use to express the unconditional love that God feels for us.
This is Agape love.
If you have Agape love in your life, then you need no other love in your life, but if you do not have Agape love, then all other love seems irrelevant.
One that can say they have Agape love is complete, whether that love is coming from their family, or their friend.  And I believe that is what Erin was getting at.
That reciprocated, unconditional love.
She goes on to say I just needed to focus on what I had rather than what I didn’t have…that big, all consuming love that was MUTUAL.
They say that there is only one happiness in life; to love and be loved.
Yes, true enough perhaps but the source of that love? One man? One woman? Your boyfriend? Your date? Your lover?

What about the friend who you have known since you started walking? What about the brother who is over protective, but adores the heck out of you? What about your mother, who you haven’t gotten to know as well as you should yet, but would lay down her life for you? What about your kids, who forgive your failings and your stumbles and even after you have taken your frustrations out on them in an angry and unreasonable outburst, still curl up on your lap at the end of the night?
People who choose to remain single for a certain period in their life don’t necessarily lack love. In fact, it is quite the contrary.
I, just like Erin, have begun discovering just how much love I have in my life. It’s always been there, and I’ve always felt I was well loved, but without the distraction of trying to stay afloat in a tumultuous relationship, I saw the extent of it.
Through the settling of dust and rubble after the break up, I began to see silhouettes around me, and as that dust cleared more and more, I saw that the silhouettes were people, to my right, to my left, in front of me, behind me. The faces of friends and family who I didn’t realize loved me so much became more visible.
Throughout this experience people have emerged from the woodwork and is been like watching a jigsaw puzzle come together piece by piece and I realize that everyone in my life has a purpose and that I need each and every single one of you so terribly much.

And among those in that crowd, was you too. Whoever you are that is reading this story. You have no idea what it means to me to publish these stories and check back in later and see that thousands of people have read it. I wonder who you are, anonymous readers? And why you have chosen to support me so much and give me the 15 mins it takes you to read these ramblings. But for whatever reason you do, know that it means so much more than you know.
What an amazing thing to realize, that you have incredible love and support in your life, and yet, you are single.
Even if this were the only thing I took away from this whole experience, it would be worth it.

So at day 25, I can tell you that the first lesson I have learnt in this one thousand single days story, is that I have enormous, unspeakable love in my life. The sources of this love come in the form of anything from the unrelenting love and wisdom of my incredible mother, to the profound love and friendship I find in my 5 sisters, to the occasional text message I get from friends I wish I had more time to see, to those unexpected Facebook chats that last an hour or more with girlfriends I haven’t seen since high school, and yet who I still love just as much. It is all a part of it, it all makes the difference. It’s all love.

But this isn’t all about choosing to be single. This isn’t necessarily happening because of my vow of abstinence. Rather, this is happening because I chose to commit to a decision I knew I had to make, no matter what those accusations in my own head made, no matter how silly it felt, I stuck to it, and I am so glad I didn’t submit to those mocking’s. It wasn’t silly, it was wise. It was what I needed. And if you are reading this, and there is something that you feel you have needed to do, no matter what it is, I hope you revisit that. Revisit the plans you set aside, revisit the dreams you had and size them up. Were they really silly? Maybe they weren’t as silly as you thought? Maybe there is something there for you.

We have one life. I truly believe this. We have one go. We cannot relive even 1 minute of this life, and what you choose to do with the time you have becomes your story. You can write your story, but if there are parts of this story that you want to write that carry risk or the possibility of failure, then its going to be harder to pursue, but its what you choose to do differently in this life that will make your story memorable.

I work with this beautiful and fascinating woman at the School for Special needs kids, where I volunteer. There was something intriguing about her that I couldn’t put my finger on…and it was a full 2 months before I learned what it was.
Turns out, she is quite the adventurer. She is a writer…. As in, she writes the story of her own life. With her 3 children and her husband and her demanding job as a committed teacher for special needs children, she is busy and consumed and yet since before her children were even born her and her husband have travelled to this one island miles off the coast of Thailand, where there is no power and no technology to live… for several months every single year.
As the children began arriving, the trips did not cease. The children simply went along with them.
Why did her and her husband choose this little island, in the middle of nowhere, with no power, and no luxuries, to live for so many months every year of their life?
Because” she said “It is a beautiful Island
I wonder how that conversation came up initially.
“Honey, life is tiring. Sometimes I get weary, why cant we just live on a tropical island for 6 months each year?’
Well…. Why not?
Did she wake up the following morning feeling a bit silly for suggesting it? Probably.
Did she decide to file it away? No.
They went ahead and made it happen.
This family is just like you and I. From the outside, they look like any other Australian family, just working, raising the kids, paying the bills, but for over 10 years they have spent months upon months living in a hut a few meters from the high tide line, watching their children grow up on an island paradise, barefoot and tanned and free and happy because they understood that sometimes we have these fleeting moments where ideas pop into our mind, and rather than brushing them off as being silly, or crazy, maybe there is something to them. Maybe, just maybe, you could actually pull it off, because this is our life. How it pans out, depends on us taking the risk and stepping out and grabbing at something that doesn’t yet have enough form to be a sure thing, but has enough form to feel… right.

Whatever your dream is right now, whether it is to dedicate a few months to being single and discovering how it transforms your life, whether it is to finally walk away from that position that didn’t suit you, whether it is to commit to loosing the extra weight you’ve been carrying for too long or whether you want to know what finishing a marathon feels like, or whether there is some island of the coast of some place that you saw a photo of and figured “it sure would be nice to live there..”….
What ever it is, don’t just think about it in those minutes before sleep comes each night, only to brush it off as silliness the following morning, because if you miss out and pass away without leaving a great story behind you, it will be your own fault. Sorry, but it will.

I don’t know if this particular post will make any sense to anyone else. In a way, this post was a letter to myself, urging myself to live. All the posts I have written so far, and continue to write from here on in will ultimately be for me I suppose. It’s like a written record of the thoughts that run through my head during the days.
But if any of this makes any sense to anyone else, then I am glad for that, but if I look back and it only makes sense to me, then, well I suppose it will make for good reminiscing.

11 responses to The risk


    Wow! Loved this. You have an incredible amount of life flowing forth onto this page, and I found it so encouraging to read it all. (I won’t be joining the pledge of singlehood, but) I am challenged to go and live and be and enjoy a great story called life. To not become caught up in mediocrity but to thrive! Then once we’ve made that decision, to never look back and doubt ourselves in self-consciousness, but to walk forward surrounded by love that really matters. Thanks, girl, for sharing this! So inspiring!


      Thank you so much, and you know what, this whole story isn’t necessarily unfolding because of my choice to remain single for several years, but rather, my choice to dive head first into life for the next several years.(I just chose to do so while remaining single) It is indeed so easy to slowly relax into mediocrity but when you truly have that revelation that, as ‘bumper sticker’ as this may sound – we only have one shot at this life….we only live once…
      I wish you all the best on your own journey of remembering to live every single day of your life.


    You make alot more sense than you seem to know here! I stumbled upon your blog thanks to your freshly pressed post re your interview (congrats on that btw, it sounded nerve wracking but fun!) and i’m glad i did… i struggle with my singledom sometimes since I was forced into it but I think it’s time for an attitude change! I’m looking forward to spending some more time focusing on getting to know me, and keeping track of your progress in your inspiring journey 😀


      Please don’t despise your status of: single. You have the opportunity to discover a freedom that is exclusive to those who are single. Being in a strong and healthy relationship is certainly a blessing, but until you find that person for you, treasure this single time… it may be the last time in your life you have your life solely to yourself. Thank you for your beautiful encouragement and remember, we are in this together.


    Yes! Wonderful Call to Action.


    I appreciate this so much. I have been feeling the same way as you discussed in the last few paragraphs – unsure of my choices and knowing that this is my one life and I want to make the best of it. I too, dream of living on a paradise beach with no amenities, it sounds like a spectacular adventure. I will make it happen one day soon!


      Do it! There is no reason at all why that dream of yours is not valid and should not be acted upon. When you get there, please send me photos, and perhaps an address so I may stop in for a cold drink one day 😉


    You are so right. All the best ideas and aha-moments fade in daylight reality and it takes courage to stick with it. And when we do, the results are amazing. It’s about listening to yourself instead of the world around you and that is not always an easy thing to do. I like your writings very much. Thank you…Ps; love? It is always all around, waiting to be seen 🙂


    I get it 100% and love your courage to share this journey! Intuition is a powerful thing, not to be ignored 😉


    Godamnit I LOVE your blog! It’s everything and all that’s in between.

    Blogging is a weird thing. You are halfway around the world and yet I understand and feel for all that you say. Humanity is a weird thing. How universal our struggles, lies, and truths are.

    i just got out of the most pull-you-from-the-insides-down kinda love and your stories and words are helping pave my way. Thanks for digging! Digging deep!


    I just have to say, you are beautiful. I don’t really know or care what you look like, but the you inside is beautiful. Thank you for sharing yourself.

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