I don’t think there is anything I appreciate more than that of depth: in conversation, in relationship, in story. When we are real and raw and honest about the joys and the pains of life, when we dismiss the impulse to pretend like we have it all figured out and we’re not afraid to ask questions, that is where we grow. That is where we meet and walk alongside one another. That is where we are able to see our desperate need for a Love that is so much greater than anything our limited imaginations can fathom.

I talk about vulnerability a lot. And though I value it greatly, genuine transparency is not always an easy place to sit. I write words and, somehow, the result often ends up to be pretty heavy. The people pleaser in me starts to think, “This is too much to handle. Maybe you should tone it down.” But if I am seeking to live a life of depth and authenticity, I need to embrace my reality and all of the beauty and pain within it. Life is too dang short to be anything but real. So, here we go.

Life can be heavy, and it has been as of late. “Why can my friends ride bikes and I can’t anymore?” “Why do my friends get to run and climb trees and I can’t?” These questions, that I repeatedly asked my parents as a kid, have returned and they’ve brought some new acquaintances: “Why do my friends have the freedom to go anywhere, anytime they want and I am limited?” “Why do my friends get to walk down the aisle and I don’t?” “Why do I have to miss out on embracing others with my own two arms?” Sometimes “frustrated” isn’t a strong enough word to describe how my heart feels. But that is the word I tend to use.

In examining these frustrations and processing through them, I came to two major conclusions. Conclusion number one: life is challenging. Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows. It is beautiful but, at times, it is painful, as well. And that is okay; it is normal.

Conclusion number two: there is another factor at work on top of the natural ebb and flow of life. Our cultural obsession with social media and our tendency to showcase only the highs gives us all a skewed belief that we are alone in our suffering, in our loneliness.

In wresting through these deep frustrations, I realized that part of the pain simply stems from the reality of my situation, but a whole extra layer of intensity was added through my susceptibility to believe the lies that comparison told me.

It’s a nearly impossible task to look at the world of life going on around you and not compare your situation to that of another. We post pictures of our smiling-coffee-date friends and share statuses about how great it is to be married. But rarely do we openly talk about the pang of rejection we feel from a withdrawn conversation or the times we come home feeling like we are alone in this race. Everything is perfectly edited and cropped and filtered. But that is only half of the story.

So, I am writing this as a reminder to you, but mostly to myself: be you. Today, tomorrow, and every day that follows: don’t be afraid to be YOU. Don’t listen to the lies that tell you, “You are not good enough” and “You are too much to handle.” They are bogus. Your voice has value and your story is worth being shared.

E. E. Cummings writes: “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.”

These words I write are my fight. This honesty is my weapon in a war of apathy. I write in hopes that you will step forward with me into the beautiful wild of vulnerability, that we will say, “No!” to the lies of comparison, and that we will experience the freedom found in being the people we were created to be.

Are you in?!