I did not come to teach you. I came to love you. Love will teach you.

I have always believed that every stage of my life demands a different version of myself because otherwise, I would have been unable to make any meaningful progress. It’s painfully obvious in hindsight that I could not have solved my problems with the same mindset that created or endured them.

2017 has proven to be an inflection point and I believe its consequences will be etched into the remainder of my life. I know I am far from being the best possible version of myself and so, constantly ask myself questions to help me get there sooner. The answers to several of these questions are like myself, a work in progress. They develop nuance and perspective over time, and I revisit them frequently to stay grounded. I hope they serve you well too.

1. What does deceit feel like?

Imagine waking up from a dream to find the home you built on the highest rock turning into a pillar of salt when the tide rolls in.

2. What does failure feel like?

Imagine holding the most beautiful rose in the world in your hand and realizing it will never reach full bloom because of you.

3. What does inadequacy feel like?

Imagine being afraid is the only way you know how to love someone else because you have always hated yourself.

4. What does shame feel like?

Imagine opening your eyes to find the worst of you mirrored in every gaze. You want to look away but there is no place to hide from your flaws.

5. What does guilt feel like?

Imagine drowning at sea alone and knowing no one heard your cries for help as your breath became air.

6. What does regret feel like?

Imagine taking every single moment of your life and promising it to someone you believe in more than yourself, only to have this gift returned to you as a burden instead.

7. What does grief feel like?

Imagine meeting an old friend; distant on most days but always hauntingly close during your moments of weakness and misfortune.

8. What does gratitude feel like?

Imagine meeting a stranger and being asked questions you’ve waited all your life to answer so you can finally be truthful with yourself.

9. What does grace feel like?

Imagine seeing the well of sorrows, drinking from it and forgetting your own.

10. What does trust feel like?

Imagine giving someone else the power to harm you and then living every day with them filled with amazement instead of fear.

11. What does growth feel like?

Imagine looking at your reflection and immediately noticing all the ways you’ve become softer.

12. What does pride feel like?

Imagine tasting your own blood every time you are filled with nostalgia for someone who chose to harm you for their own sake.

13. What does love feel like?

Imagine being given the opportunity to be happy and reset your life every single day because someone else ferociously believes you to be worthy of more.