My heart has been pumping on gratitude these past few weeks, and it’s been on my lips at night before going to sleep.
I am bad at receiving. On top of that, I’m fiercely independent and tend towards people-pleasing. Giving makes me joyful. Receiving is …uncomfortable. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to embrace it.
Last month, 8 friends came over for Shabbos. I woke up early Friday morning with a fever, chills, and sore throat. I usually do the cleaning, not the cooking, and had never made the whole Shabbos myself. Preparing took hours. A few friends stopped by closer to Shabbos to help, which was great, but by the time Shabbos came, I was exhausted. We welcomed in Shabbos by the candles and snuggled on the couches.
Feeling sick forced me to resign to the fact that I couldn’t do everything alone. I don’t know why I was surprised when everyone stepped up to the plate (no pun intended), setting the table, serving, clearing, cutting the salads- all the things I wouldn’t have thought to ask for help with. Somewhere in my head, a light flickered on, and I felt supported.
That week, I turned 22. Work and school have been crowding my schedule, so I didn’t party. Having told a few friends and my immediate family, I dedicated some time to talk to Hashem and think about what 21 was like, and went to work as usual. The next day, my friend Emma brought me flowers. Then Gavriel sent more flowers with a note, and Chava handed me a letter the following week. At work, they threw a mini birthday ice cream party.
Countless times in the past month, I’ve received help or gifts unexpectedly- a ticket to a concert from friends, an errand run, a favor from a roommate, a listening ear, beautiful weather.
There is a certain amount of security that comes with not receiving. Being a giver doesn’t require vulnerability. I can nurture and give without showing my weaknesses. That’s my comfort zone. It’s so HARD to let go of.
But slowly, as I allow myself to be loved by the people around me, I’m becoming brave.
Bravery means a lot of things. When I was little, it meant going on the scariest ride in the amusement park. It meant riding a two-wheeler. Brave meant sharing my art and music to a public audience. Brave meant leaving school early and starting college. Brave was making aliyah. I’ve defined brave by accomplishment.
Recently, I learned that brave is also vulnerability. Brave is being ok with weakness and mistakes, and with the knowledge that it may not turn out great, but it’s still worthwhile to try. Brave is relaying a painful experience and not judging myself for it.
Recently, I learned that it is so much easier to appreciate life when it is an honest, shared experience.
This one realization is changing my life. It has been opening me up to communicating in a more personal way and to having deeper relationships.
It’s Adar now, the Jewish month of simcha. Mrs. Levine from Neve explained that simcha is the joy that is found in the journey, because if there were no journey, there’d be no joy at the finish line! On my own journey, I’m so grateful to be learning about the value of openness. I’m grateful to the friends and family in my life who stick with me as I discover and who teach me how to receive.