The air was cool along the northern coast of California. The sun, tucked behind a blanket of clouds, cast a gray haze over everything. I stood along the shore, felt the sand beneath my feet, and stared out into the ocean. The waves lapped in and out and I was struck by it’s beauty. I love the ocean, but it also scares me. The enormity of it. How it’s able to hide so many things. It’s power to ravage and destroy.
As I watched, alone for a few moments, I felt something once forgotten. A mistake, a regret, a moment that had long been buried rushed to the surface. A wave of guilt and shame washed over me. It’s power, no different than the ocean in front of me, pulled me under the surface. I stood there, silently drowning, on the sand.
“What am I doing?” I thought. “I’m a fraud. How can I tell others to be vulnerable and live a wild life, when I’m hardly able to myself?” The thoughts continued, like a riptide, pulling me deeper and deeper.
And then I heard it. A small, barely there voice broke through the current. “I’m still here.” My wild side. She was still there, waiting for me to bring her back to the surface. I kicked and pushed back against the feelings of unworthiness and pain. I tried to put them back, to bury them again, but the harder I tried, the stronger they became. “Stop fighting.” She reminded me.
Stop fighting. I leaned in and welcomed the pain. I didn’t fight against it. I felt each wave until it became less and less. Doing so made me realize something I’d been trying to avoid. Sometimes, being wild hurts. It means acknowledging the dark, ugly parts of ourselves and taking accountability.
I collected pieces of sea glass as I walked back to my family. Each piece unique, made beautiful by the beating of the waves. I now keep them in a jar next to my bed as a reminder that in the end, our trials don’t have to define us. They simply shape us into the beautiful, strong, wild ones that we are.