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Mackenna Lee


Disembark, Grow, Illuminate.

I spoke with a friend recently about the hit of dread that throttles her when an opportunity arises. More recently, I’ve been able to sashay that sinking sensation. Without hesitance, I can attribute greater amounts of sleep in quarantine as mitigating the helplessness when work is shoveled onto one’s plate. But moreover, there’s been a decent amount of self-coaching.

Given its a wholly unnatural metamorphosis, the transition from mouse to a lion thwarts our ingrained reactions. When I see storms on the horizon, there’s two takes. One, I need to panic for shelter. Two, this precipitation will make for great harvest.

I continually am steering myself toward the latter (though it takes reminders).

Though I started as a mouse. In interviewing for my first job out of college, I found myself in a tech startup based out of Boston. The company was full of wonderful, empathetic people, though they pushed hard in interviews (famously asking questions like, “how does glue work?” and logic related questions).

At one point, one of the executive asked me to detail technical foundations of the internet. It was hour 6 of the interview, and words were not flowing. In my attempt to find the end of my sentences, I cut my finger in fidgeting.

Now I had an issue on my hands, rather than tell the interviewer I was bleeding while fumbling the answer to the question, I instead hastily attempted to cover up the issue with my other hand.

When this did not fully cover the massacre on my pointer finger, I instead leveraged some of my note paper to absorb the damage. Not shockingly, standard issue paper is not absorbent.

I did cross the finish line on the interview (and was even eventually offered a position there), but I was too uncomfortable to even bring up an apparent change in the expected flow. Change was scary, and if I diverted from my scripted monologue on the internet, what zombie-creature would he think he was hiring? What would honesty bring to the conversation other than a confession that I was out of my comfort zone?

I’ve been a change-seeker since I packed my bags for university in hunt of adventure in a new country. Though I’ve realized I’ve worn the badge half-heartedly. Fear mingled with uncertainty. I feasted on new scenery, but I still paid mental taxes on “how” to achieve those surroundings.

I’ve learned a lot can be gained in a pause, like the one we breathe in quarantine. An treasure of this pause prioritized what’s “worth” worrying over (I’ll spoil the ending – not much).

While I still act sheepish at times, the recognition and earmarks to embody a fuller force are more present nowadays. I’ve uncovered a hidden power in bestowing honesty, and I’ve also basked in the warmth of expressing a genuine love to a friend without thought to repercussions.

Perhaps that’s not lion-hearted after all, perhaps the transition is from fearing the unknown to accepting the unknown is there. It’s not charging into darkness blindly, but bringing a light and wandering with ready eyes and open minds.

The paper may bleed still, but instead of soaking a cut on my hand, it’s honoring words I am no longer afraid to write.

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