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Issue 17 Out Now

My Ultimate Goal: Getting to the Finish Line with a Light Heart

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Will Smith once said, “You have to learn how to fight and defend yourself against predators without letting your heart go dark.” When I first heard this months ago, I couldn’t hold the tears from streaming down my face. I knew I was in a poor place mentally, spiritually, and emotionally as it was starting to show in my behavior. However, I hadn’t fully realized until that moment that my heart was also currently losing a war against darkness.

Why was this? My collective experiences were informing against the faith I had in the world. So, I was finding it difficult to trust, hope, and see the good in people. I was losing my love for life.

My light was dimming.

I didn’t want to continue letting people close enough to hurt, take advantage of, or let me down. So, to protect myself and my light, I wore a mask. I kept everyone at a distance, hid the best parts of myself below a taciturn, detached demeanor, and I closed myself off to the best and the worst of the world. These precautions became a part of me, and just as no one could get close enough to hurt me, neither could anyone get close enough to help me heal.

With nothing to fan it, my light was dimming just as when I was freely allowing others access to extinguish it because, as the saying goes, if you are not growing, you are dying.

As a result, I found myself asking how do you do it? How do you navigate the darkness in the world, honoring your skills and talents while also protecting your light? How do you hold on to the compassion, kindness, and warmth you had in your youth without allowing the world to make you cold, calloused, and bitter?

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Today, these are the most meaningful questions in my life, and they guide all my thoughts, decisions, and actions. To this day, I don’t have the answer. And I don’t feel too bad because Will didn’t offer one either. In truth, I don’t believe there is a single, definitive answer to this question because life is an ongoing journey and no two journeys are the same. Everyone must find a way to hold on to the light in their own unique life.

And what if that is the charge: To find a way.

The night I heard this quote from Will was a turning point for me. After wiping my eyes, and sleeping on his words, the best rest I’d gotten in months, I made the decision to start mentally, emotionally, and spiritually repairing and preparing myself for my new lifelong goal. Not only protecting my light but also cultivating an internal and external environment for it to thrive.

With the cruelties, pains, injustices, violence, and inequities in the world, it’s only natural that we find ourselves adopting characteristics of our environment to survive, lest we lose our minds, or worst, our lives. A crossroad I found myself at most of my life. But to somehow fight this. To somehow hold on to your compassion and your kindness. To hold on to your softness, your gentleness, and your joy. To somehow hold on to your light in a space where many were unable to, and darkness reigns supreme. I can think of no better way to honor those that chose to fight before me. No fiercer way to show up for those fighting alongside me. No better way to pass my light on to the fighters that will come after me. No worthier challenge a woman or man can take on while in this station. And no better accomplishment I would be humbled to take with me back home.

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