Mid-2018, and I had just gotten dressed. It was a Sunday, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. I was about to head out to water our garden, so I was throwing on clothes that I don't normally wear—the hose was dirty, and I didn't want to mess up my good t-shirts. I put on my "I am an immigrant" shirt. My shameful secret . . . I'm afraid to wear this shirt outside in public. Don't get me wrong; I'm proud of the fact that I'm an immigrant, of my Irish heritage, and of my story, but I hate confrontation. My fear is that if I wear this shirt—or others that proclaim my other disclosures—too publicly, there will be a confrontation because, sadly, these are the times we are living in. What is happening on our borders is heartbreaking and shameful. I am profoundly ashamed of my fear, so I'm writing this article to put it all out there; my fears, my shame, and my hopes for the future and the now. As I always say, you can't change what you don't acknowledge or are not aware of, so here I go, practicing what I preach.
I am a gay, liberal, immigrant woman. I am open about these things in my life, but when it comes to being public, especially in the current political climate, I have fear . . . not really about being gay, but about being liberal and being an immigrant. I know I'm on the right side of history when it comes to my politics and my beliefs, no question, but I don't shout it from the rooftops like some I know and greatly admire. Why? Because of fear. A mundane fear of being hassled online, of being confronted in the street, grocery store, or anywhere. I call it mundane because I'm not in fear for my life, and I'm not in any real danger; I'm just nervous. I call it mundane because it stops me from wearing a shirt or speaking out in a public way. I realize how completely privileged this sounds to at least some. I don't need to fear being shot for simply driving my car, walking down the street, or standing with my hands up—I am in complete awe of those who have to be brave just to live their lives #blacklivesmatter. I am in complete awe of those remarkable students from Parkland Florida #neveragain who are so incredibly strong and brave and who are harassed and threatened constantly online. The harassment is brutal, it scares me, and it plays into my fear. It takes a village to fix these things that are so desperately in need of fixing. Some of us are quietly participating in postcard writing, or creating, signing, or sharing petitions, calling our elected officials, or marching. We don't all have to be on TV spreading the critical messages that are being spread. Some do, but we need many voices, and we need feet on the ground, doing the other work.
We are all brave in our own way. It might not feel like it, but I guarantee that you do things every day that scare others. For me, these outspoken activists are my heroes, doing and saying things in a way I wish I could. I'd like to think that I'm an inspiration for others. Maybe there are things I do that others think is brave or they wish they could do. I hope so. If I'm brave enough to do those things, then I can be brave enough to not only write this article—because for me this is a big deal—but to actually publish it somewhere.
This post doesn't promise to solve any problems or offer any solutions; it is merely an essay, an exposé of my fear, and a celebration of those I admire. And it's a call to action, too. A call to get involved in whatever way you can. Fear is not a wall, it's an obstacle, one to be overcome and worked around. There is so much going on right now that needs to be addressed and needs our attention; not silence or complacency. Think about what you can do to get involved.
I'm not going to let my fear dictate my actions anymore.
P. S. My wife recently bought me a box of Louise Hay Power Cards (mantras and affirmations). Today, I opened the box, took out the stack, and picked a random spot to pull out a card. I kid you not, it said, "I release all fears and doubts." On the flip side of the card, "I am loved, and I am safe." You can't make this stuff up!
This article was originally published on Thrive Global
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