A few months ago, I quit my comfortable job at a major nonprofit to drive across the country spreading kindness. I learned so much during that trip (you can read more about the day to day joys of travel here) and coming back has continued to teach me lessons.
The other day, I was recounting that story to a couple women I had just met. They both responded with how brave that is “to just quit your job on a whim and follow a dream.” It was a recurring theme during the trip – we were constantly praised for the boldness that comes from stepping outside what is normal and expected.
I was cleaning out some old notes earlier when I found these thoughts from April of this year.
In the midst of making a pretty big life change, I started to wonder when I got so bold. “NYC made me confident,” I thought. Then I realized that wasn’t exactly true. New York City beat me up and spit me out. The mice in my first apartment scared me. The first club I went to for my friend’s birthday grossed me out. The first time I was cat called, the first time a strange man grabbed my hip as I walked down Broadway, angered me.
But throughout all of that, I approached the city with a very “fake it until you make it” approach. I was determined to never look lost or confused or scared.
I am all about openness and vulnerability with everything I do in The Smile Project. But I will say in the case of public appearances, my “fake it until you make it” attitude worked in New York.
New York City didn’t give me confidence – it put me in a situation where confidence was my only choice. It made it so being bold was my only option.
At the end of the day, I am grateful for the people, places, and things that have challenged me and given me no other choice than to rise into the person I should be.