Somewhere on the journey of learning to live fully as someone with social anxiety, there's a new hurdle: learning to keep up emotionally with the newly active social part of yourself. As you grow more comfortable in the situations that previously provoked fear or avoidance a surprising thing can happen: you can find yourself becoming more social, more outgoing than your emotional self is prepared for. This is especially true of socially anxious folks who lean toward the introverted end of the spectrum. Suddenly there's a new, rather bombastic voice in the mix that wants to go on all those fabulous adventures the fearful self had been so good at talking you out of. And before you know it, you're burned out with trying to keep up with this newly-freed sense of creative living.
In her 1996 book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, author Sarah Ban Breathnach offers small doses of wisdom and inspiration on living our most authentic lives. Her daily meditations muse on spirit, relationships, creativity, home, and beyond. In one rumination she tells of walking through a cemetery and coming across the grave of a woman from the early 19th century. Etched in her headstone is the inscription, "The only pain she caused was when she left us."
The only pain she caused was when she left us.
I can't think of a better legacy; I felt a kinship and a deep admiration for this woman whose life I didn't know - name, even, I didn't know, The words her loved ones chose to have her remembered by are the words strangers are introduced to her by, and they took root in my heart as the greatest of life goals. What especially struck me was the realization that this anonymous woman may have lived a brief life or a simple life, a sheltered or a tragic life; she may have never traveled the world or created some material contribution to humanity that would carry her identity on into the history of the future; but her way of living, the way she treated people, became a legacy that would move an author and be read, admired, tucked into the heart of someone (I'm sure many someones) centuries later. It would be a legacy of goodness, the likes of which would carry itself for eternity. Lingering on that thought creates a sense of infinite possibility.
And so many people think that peace is powerless.
Think differently. Love differently. Believe differently. Then go out into our beautiful, broken world and live that difference. What will your legacy be?
At the beginning of the year I scribbled these lines in my journal, a vow to myself as well as a wish for everyone who lives with challenges of any sort (which is to say, all of us). Take care.