There's a lot to be said for safe.
You can make a good case for it: we've lived our entire lives chasing it, being told it's what we need.
But I sit here twenty-two years after coming into a world that is anything but safe...after being raised to be a good girl, to look when crossing the street, to know who to call in an emergency, say 'no' when pressured, to drive inside lanes.
Safe is good. For many things.
But I sit here, realizing that as much as I love to cling to shreds of my childhood, I am not a child anymore. That today I am anything but safe. That I need to be okay with not being safe.
That I'm done with being safe.
And of course, I don't mean common sense safety. I still plan to walk in lit areas, stay in the lane, wear my seatbelt, and listen to my gut instinct always.
But I don't want to live a life that's safe - where fear and uncertainty sleeps in my bed, holds me back, taps me gently on the shoulder and says quietly, "What if it doesn't work out?"
Next month, I will begin my last year of college and the future - my future - is suddenly looming ahead. Gone is the shy, meek, but bubbly girl of eighteen who graduated from high school wrapped in the safety blanket of having four years to figure out her life.
Those four years are nearly over and while I don't quite feel like a ticking clock, I can sense a change...a deepening. A shifting.
I'll be twenty-three next year. I'll be a university graduate next year. I'll be on my own next year. So "safe" doesn't really seem to do it for me any more.
Like a skin being shed, I can feel the beginning - a slipping out of this world of safety.
It's a culmination of things, I think. Watching my younger siblings, high school students, even college freshmen...and feeling the overwhelming difference. How I am still incredibly young - and yet forever no longer young, as anyone "young" sees the old college senior who doesn't use Snapchat every moment or say "fierce" (that last example alone dates me). I think Europe started the shifting within me, proved the catalyst. Speaking a different language, living among strangers, missing the ones I loved and yet not able to do anything about it, because if anything happened there was no one to take care of me but myself.
I sit here, much older and wiser, sadder and quieter than the eighteen year old girl who dreamed of the four years ahead of her. Who didn't look too far into the future. I'm quite fond of her. And yet glad to not be the same as her. I've learned to treasure both laughter and tears, the comfort of company and the sweetness of being alone.
I'm ready for a life that is real and wild, dangerously real. Safe is a mindset, one to which I clung to many times.
But life is not safe or tame, as one beaver reminded us in a snowy tale of lions and wardrobes:
"'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver. 'Who said anything about safe?
Course he isn't safe. But he's good.'"
Your heart will be broken, life will be terrifying, people will make you feel small and unintelligent, mistakes will be made. But this is all a part of living real - and so is the independance of surviving in another city, of driving hundreds of miles alone, of scheduling interviews, of believing that you have strengths and no one can make you feel inadequate about them, of opening up to someone even if the outcome is not what you hoped, of trusting that you have a voice and you are valid in what you say, of holding steadfastly to your ideals and principals in a crowd.
We weren't made to live in boxes labeled "Safe." Like Ann Voskamp said, we were made to be dangerous disciples of the Unsafe God. So I'm opening up my mind to what that means...to going deeper in and further up, to being split open and trying to understand the messiness in my soul, to breathing in change, to let the untamed and unsafe lion tear through the layers I've built over the years.
When you're young you think you know best (I still do most days), but then tonight I sit here and it's as if I've turned around to look back over my shoulder at what lay behind, at what I'd been clinging to and wrapping around me like a dragon skin. What had been wrapped around me, what was so much so the skin I lived in that I didn't even realize it was there.
The band Daughter sings a song of aching truth that thrums in the blood and lingers in one's chest:
Underneath the skin there's a human
buried deep within there's a human
and despite everything I'm still human
I'm shedding this skin, still human underneath somehow - through some mad, wild grace. And grateful for all I've learned, for this process of shedding and changing.
And I'm ready to live wild and real.