one step forward…[a discourse on change and kindness.]

one step forward. one small, timid step forward.

you meet the girl. you leave the job. you move to the new city. you make the big phone call. you book the trip. you make the first step.

one more step. this time with just a hint of swagger.

you make a gesture. you look for the new niche. you start looking for your place in the world. you go to the interview.

one more step.

you meet the family. you get the callback. you find your favorite restaurant. you start the networking process. you find friends. you start to feel at home.

one more step.

you say, “I love you.” You get the job. you become a regular. people know your name.  It starts to become your city, and you start to fall in love with it.

one step back.

a little fight. a realization that sometimes the job is stressful. a 60-hour week. one wrong experience at just the wrong time and all of a sudden it’s not what you think it was.

one more step back.

the streets don’t feel familiar. you and your significant other feel like strangers. you mess up the big project. the audience “boos” you.

before you know it, you have the progress only of the initial step. and then you start to wonder if making that step was the right decision.

Sometimes, you just need to take a second.

you need a second to take stock, you need a second to take a break. maybe you need a second to go home and see your parents, or a second to go see your old stomping grounds. You need a second to remember where you come from and who you are, and to put your progress in perspective. You need a second to realize that you’re capable of all of this change,  and even if you take another step back – breaking up, losing the job, feeling out of sorts at the new place or in the new city, whatever it is – you still were brave enough to take the first step, even if your first step wasn’t as big as someone else’s first step. To realize that you’ve grown, and your strides forward have become longer and longer and your steps backwards are actually much smaller every time you take one. Even if all you take is steps backward – even if you feel like you’re telling the same story and over and over again until it makes more sense to you, even if you feel weak, even if you, in your humanity, feel dizzy and overwhelmed by all that’s changed – by the break-up, by the people you saw in the summer but have disappeared by the fall, by the hobbies you had when you were younger and now don’t go near, by the old job you wonder if you’d still love, by everything that’s changed – you’re not alone in it all. If the world’s changing for you, the world is changing for everyone.

And realize that the most important thing, above anything else, is kindness. Kindness to others, yes, but kindness also to yourself. After all, those two kindnesses should be hand-in-hand, you are you love your neighbor as yourself, which means you are to love your neighbor and you are to love yourself, and one is not more important than the other.

So take a second. Breathe. Figure out what your heart needs and when it needs it, and do it. Sometimes you have to work hard, sometimes you have to rest. Sometimes you have to fight, sometimes you have to retreat. Sometimes you don’t have time and you have to match the pace of life, other times you have to dictate the pace yourself.

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Whatever you do, be kind. And never stop looking forward, even if you have to step backwards for a moment.

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