I’ve said this before. I feel perfectly comfortable being really, really vulnerable with complete strangers. Maybe because it feels so low consequence— they don’t know your people, they don’t have any attachments or stories about you, and they can’t use personal information as power. And being vulnerable with the closest in my circle is what forges family-like friendships. My people know my ugly and I know theirs, and we love one another just the same.

But sharing with people that I’m friendly with but not calling when I’m crying? That’s fucking terrifying. Most of my writing so far is personal essay and narrative (hello, no research!), so it’s about real things that happen in my life— talking about my imperfect romantic relationship, my imperfect self esteem/self worth, my imperfect path forward. Sharing that with folks in my community can feel quite scary. I don’t want to feign perfection or that I have everything together all of the time, and I also want to acknowledge that my stomach turns when I hit submit on my newsletter.

And yet, I continue to be reminded that putting myself out there is the only way. The. Only. Way. I heard Brene Brown quote Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I keep reminding myself to get into the arena. This week, I shared on social media and Mailchimp a piece about femininity. The outpouring of love and support from total strangers and friends alike was unprecedented for me. Between e-mail, texts, and Instagram, over 100 women (and a few men) reached out to share their gratitude, validation, and appreciation.

I got rejected about 3084 more times from different publications. My ego is definitely crushed when I first read the e-mail. Sometimes if I see an e-mail from an editor in my inbox I’ll avoid opening it for half of a day because I’m scared of what it’ll say. Once I decide to act like an adult again, I move on or I fight back. The more times I get my hopes up and then get let down, the stronger I feel. My sister-in-law suggested watching this video about rejection. It’s awesome.

I also finally asked people about a part time job I’d been drooling over for months. I spent hours talking to Jake about this dream. Our conversations usually ended with my saying “but I’m too scared to ask!” and him making chicken noises. I did it and they said yes!

All healthy reminders that being in the arena is the only way to live. I couldn’t feel luckier to get to try.