Maybe It’s Time We Stop Fixing

This week always stings a bit.

This, my dear friend, is New York Fashion Week. Six years ago at this time, I was in Lincoln Center watching the snow with a cool drink in hand waiting to walk into my first ever fashion show. My inaugural solo trip was a week of incredible moments and failures I’ll someday share over coffee with grandchildren so they have epic tales of Nana Kate off the farm for years to come. 

But right now, I’m watching snow bounce from limb to limb at my kitchen table, with a full cup from Mr. Coffee in jeans and a logo hoodie without makeup or having bothered to do anything but blow-dry my hair. And yes, I have already spent hours in public this morning.

Did you ever do or dream anything so magical and so true to you, then immediately freak out? Like, whose life do you think you’re living anyway?!?

That was New York. I didn’t have VIP seating at Michael Kors, rather fourth row seating at a simple fashion show for my grad school colleagues literally anyone could attend. I basked in the spotlight glow of people with similar taste and interest, the rushing energy of the city that makes me giddy and The Farmer completely annoyed.

I came home on the high of a flow I can explain only as cultivated by something or someone greater than me. One thing led to another, one person led to the next.

Then a funny thing happened – people started noticing. My people started noticing. I witnessed them wanting to know the change in me, what I was doing, amazed by my bravery and then shrinking immediately as if the size of my dreams and actions made them feel small.

And so, I did the only thing I knew to do, the thing we do all day every day as women and wives and mothers and friends: I fixed it.

I quit chasing. I gave up my freelance job. I walked away from those inspiring new faces.

No one asked me to, in fact some suggested I not. However, when it suddenly dawned on me that in my change I had become visible, the fear that accompanied being seen – the fear of disappointing or losing my people – was far greater than any reward I could imagine.

Don’t get me wrong, fixing is what we are conditioned to do. We fix things at work. We fix dinner. We fix broken toys, and hearts, and marriages. I have now spent five years unknowingly fixing my life to its state before I dared break it by boarding a plane. I have literally returned myself and most of my surroundings to the exact size, shape, job and habits they had been, in the most freaky twilight zone kind of way.

I thought for certain if I could just Joanna Gaines the crap out of this little comfort zone, I could make the desire to fly go away this time. I even thought if I could put the weight of my heart back onto my body, the burden would be easier to bear.

You guys, I believe so deeply comfort zones have their critical place in certain seasons of life. They keep us safe and protect our hearts when it all feels too much to carry. They create a cocoon to provide the constant reassurance of a gigantic hug.

I’m exiting the thick of this comfort zone importance right now though, friend, and what I need you to hear is this:

You are not only whole because of the cocoon you have created around you.

You are also incredibly whole and beautiful and amazing in your change.

See this with me – you, inside that tiny space, were already whole and alive just as you are. You outside that tiny space? Same, same.

In due time, this next phase of life was meant to happen. When it does, the tug is not your jeans fitting too tight, although see above reference for putting the burden on my body and know it is real. Oh no, when you feel this discomfort on your heart, you should know this is your life fitting too tight.

What I recognize now in this very moment is New York wasn’t my grand gesture of stepping out and spreading my wings. I wasn’t moving mountains by attending a blogger conference or trying to escape The Farmer because his love language is dirt not Dior.  

All this time, I’ve been deeming five simple days a lifetime of failure, because I didn’t follow through. I’m sure somewhere deep in your heart you have your own moment you’re sure has passed.

Lady, we have been so wrong.

New York was just a break in the cocoon. It was breath of fresh air I had no idea what do with after years in the darkness, and so I worked my ass off to patch the tiny hole all the while judging my brokenness.  

The truth is, we just needed more time to grow.

You were born to spread your wings, so that initial crack isn’t just normal, it’s planned for you.

Brokenness is literally the most important next step.

You need not fix this life, you must simply step out into it.

You decide when you are whole. You decide when you are ready.

You decide when the time has come to flaunt those wings – whether you have worked so hard growing them or just finally realized they were there. You decide when you are prepared to fake out every predator of your dreams and fly gracefully away.

Don’t over think them. Maybe your wings are a job. Maybe they’re a hobby or a book or a foundation or a trip or a relationship or motherhood or living the best damn life you know. Or maybe as it turns out, your wings are mom jeans paired with your favorite t-shirt from twenty years ago and a topknot. And all you have to do is turn on some Bruno Mars, slap on some red lipstick and fly away.

kate j