Be More.

"Laughing, crying, tumbling, mumbling.
Gotta do more, gotta be more.
Chaos screaming, chaos dreaming,
Gotta do more, gotta be more!"
Charlie “Nuwanda” Dalton (Dead Poet’s Society, 1989)

For the past few weeks this has been the phase that pounds through my head.

Be more loving. Be more true. Be more extravagant. Be more elegant. Be more honest. Be more adoring. Be more trusting.

Be more.

I don't want to be a person that just accepts what I have as the end all conclusion to my life. I am


with comfort and trying to find the silver lining on normality. That's too easy. It feels untrue. I want to be all I can be, not a shadow.

I'm saying enough! Enough to forced smiles, enough to trying to fit into some mould that I can't shape and contort my body and personality to fit into. I want to be more.

I want to lay my life on the line, over and over again. I want to be brutally honest down to the quick of my existence. I don't want cautious words passed around me, I want to learn from mistakes and grow from them. I want to be right and righteous and honorable.

See, it's just too easy to stay in my comfort zone. It's too easy not to pull people closer when they sting like lemon on a paper cut. It's easier to push people away. It's easy to stop drawing because I'm not as good as other people. It's easy to compare and say making pictures aren't worth it for me because I'm not that good and I don't have time.

I've got this big doubt monster living in the space next to my bed. It's not nasty, it isn't mean. Sometimes it even comforts me.

"You're good enough at this, just stop where you are. 

Don't fly too high, Icarus. 

Look, you're reasonably happy here. 

You're reasonably satisfied. Let's not push it. 

Don't be crazy." 

I catch myself listening to this little voice. I lift up my blanket and let it cozy up to the small of my back, like a satisfied cat. It knows it can win me over, it knows I'm scared of inconsistency and change.

And that's okay. I know who I am. I know what I'm comfortable in, I know what makes me shiver to my very bones. I know what makes me stop, I know what makes me go. If you know a lot about yourself, if you spend more time on learning who you are than trying to fit into something else, there's not a lot that can change you. I'm still learning that. This past year was a year of exponential growth. Honestly, it's still hard for me to understand what exactly changed in my life. Or if there even was real change, maybe it was just growth. I kind of feel that I'm jumping the gun here. Whatever that means.

I see so many other people older than me, much older than me, who say I'm wise. Who say I have my life together. That it took them 20 years to get where I am today. Maybe we all just have different struggles. Maybe they're all the same, but we deal with them differently.

My struggles are something I write a lot about. Body image, friendlessness, anxiety, poor health. I'm not ashamed of them. Like I say, I know who I am. I just don't know who I'm going to be.

Amy Poehler talked about her monster in her book Yes, Please as something that you never lose. And the only way you can carry on is if you say "I know who I am. Yup, you're right." And keep going.

So hey there, little monster, I'm going to be more.

The social networks are filled with posts talking about reflection and goals from the past year and the new one. I'm not going to try to be different or original in mine. This is one of the trends I can fully get behind and not concern myself with being above it all. If there's anything I like, it's knowing yourself and what you're capable of.

2014 was a good year. I say that a lot. I keep describing as full because it was. It was so full to the brim of every good and not so good thing I could imagine.

The whole year was completely unexpected, I was shaken by it, blindsided, humbled, charmed, loved. It's like this year took me by the shoulders, gave me a little shake and said

"This is your year, are you going to run with it?"

And I did, I think. I think I ran the year down to the very quick; wrung it out a few times and hung it up to dry. I launched a magazine, and published four successful issues and a bunch of articles. I finished writing my first book. I traveled... a lot. I went to Chicago, and Mexico, and Mississippi and Arizona. I graduated high school and spoke in public. I navigated the O'hare airport without crying (....much.) My best friend asked me to be his girlfriend and after like 2 seconds of deliberation I said "Gosh, yes" and pretty much wanted to hug him forever.

I've grown into someone that I truly like and love and want to spend time with. I can value my time and my work, and the effort I put into things.

But, still... I can't help looking at choices I made and wishing they were slightly different.

Not that I have regrets, please understand! Just the fact that I realize that things could have been better shows me that I grew from them. There are definitely thing I want to be different in this new year. Last year, I didn't take many pictures that I truly care about. Part of that I'm okay with. I wanted to live in the moment, I wanted to fully be alive and not focused on what the outcome of a picture would be. How many likes it would get, how many times it would get pinned or reblogged. So, I'm thankful for that. But I also look back on my notebooks and journals and see a lot of empty spaces. A lot of times where I was so busy that I couldn't say "today, I explored a city with people I didn't know." Or, "today, I ate spicy food at a stand on the side of a dirt road, and I still don't quite know what it was."

And I don't have many pictures of those moments, I don't have a lot of pictures of my siblings-- dirty faces and all. I swore that I was going to do better. I guess in the end I was still too concerned with my image to say

to hell with it! I'm going to do what I love. 

So this year, I'm just going to live. I'm going to take as many selfies as I want to, and take pictures of every dog I see. I'm going to carry my big ol' camera around and take pictures of the people I love more. I'm going to write about things that aren't pretty, I'm going to talk about things that are. I'm going to live bare faced and brave and throw myself into everything I do.

"Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing"
Ron Swanson

That's my goal. I'm not trying to make a bunch of little resolutions and goals that just make me feel bad at the end of the year. I just want to take everything I do and weigh it so I don't settle for less. I want to suck the marrow out of life, as Henry David Thoreau said. I want to live deliberately.

Whatever shape that may take.

Are you with me?

xoxo Johanna