Stop affirming yourself. Scream instead (Day 32, Year 4)

Happy February, friends! January was quite the month around here. I am trying to recall all the things that went on and I am truly struggling because it was an absolute whirlwind. January seems to always begin with illness (I blame Ohio), include several mad dashes to finish lines (real and imagined), wind down with my middle’s birthday (and my half birthday) and conclude with me requiring afternoon naps just to make it to 8pm. 

I don’t know if it has always been this way for me. I don’t seem to have firm and accurate memories of life before children (or last week). But, it feels like it is always like this: you start the year with a “new year, new you,” attitude and then by February everything is like it’s finally a “new month and I’m donth*” with January. Tuesday, I had a work retreat for Alex’s Lemonade that included a motivational speaker named Harris III (he must have a last name, maybe?) who is a former child magician who has now written a book (like everyone, except for me) and does motivational speaking from a hotel lobby in Tokyo. He was so smiley—like beaming ear to ear—even when he said things like “worry is the misuse of imagination” and other things like “I lost all my money by age 22.” 

This all did not inspire me, because at age 22, I lost $100 at the Jersey shore and I am still angry about it and worried someday my entire life will come down to $100 and I will wish at age 22 I had a more secure wallet! 

What did inspire me was his closer. He was smiling (obviously. I bet his children smiled on like hour two of life because of his influence) and said that all of us in the room know we are making a difference at Alex’s, but all of us probably sometimes wonder if individually we really matter to the work. I didn’t like to hear that because it is absolutely the truth of every insecurity I have always about writing. Do my words matter? Someone else could surely do it this for the Foundation? Am I doing enough? Does anyone care about my obsession with science? Is it okay to spend afternoons hemming and hawing over how to write creatively about oncoproteins and immunotherapy?

The answer, friends, is not YES, YES, YES. 

The answer is: yes, you make a difference, but you know you have it in you to do more, so, as my dear friend Cole would say, Let’s Fucking Go.  I don’t believe it is enough to tell yourself that what you’ve done in the past matters; you must push yourself to keep going and keep growing and keep trying. The answer to insecurities and imposter syndrome is not affirmations, the answer a rally cry:

Go, grow, and keep pushing. LFG. 

Lily, my oldest, raced last Saturday in an indoor erg competition. If you don’t know what this is, I’ll set the scene: children and adults train for months and show up at a high school gym to race on an indoor rowing machine. They go so hard and so fast, that there are puke buckets. Lily has done four of these indoor races. She used to buckle over in pain—her wrists would cramp, a horrible bullshit reminder of the price of brain tumors and cancer treatment. But she’s been working through it, getting stronger, more conditioned and learning how to compensate and adapt for her body’s lack of cooperation. She had the names of three cancer heroes written on her hand: Alex (Scott), Brooke (Mulford) and Cole (Fitzgerald). Her, ABCs, she said. Before she gripped the erg handle for the start of the race, she looked at her hand and nodded her head at each name, three times, closed her eyes and she fucking went. 

She shaved over a minute off her time and paused once, to gag, like the other children. 

Friends, the work you did in the past matters, but you cannot stop, you have to fucking go and grow and keep pushing. Stop affirming yourself and instead scream a rally cry. 

*Donth is not a real word and I know this sets some people off who are very much obsessed with reality. Luckily, I don’t know most of those people.