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Sara, this is great. I have two answers. First: years ago a guy named Mark Jenkins had a column in Outside magazine called "The Hard Way." The essays were collected into a book that I enjoyed. But it was kind of bro-tastic in the way that much of that magazine can be, but the point I've carried with me is that sometimes it is good to test ourselves against the world, rather than constantly seek the more convenient path. I'm not a hardcore thrillseeker, but I do like to do hard things just for the sake of it being hard. It's usually testing myself against the weather, extremes of temperature, just living a little more inconveniently. The stairs instead of the elevator. One trip with a heavy load instead of two. Hard, hands-on work like splitting and stacking wood.

But then there is emotional hard. Setting boundaries. Saying no. I'm not good at that.

And larger things? Like desires for spending my remaining years doing things that don't jibe with how a partner's life choices are playing out that make just about anything more difficult? Like reckoning with a growing desire for more personal space, a small cabin or shack to spend time living alone in? Longing for more multi-day solo wandering trips? The realizations are really, really fucking hard. I may never face that excruciating conversation and will probably suffer for it, because I don't know that I have the courage. And living through not doing it is hard too.

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Well said. And I know what you mean. But then choosing not to do something is also a choice, and it's like you have to parse out whether it's indicative of something bigger, like a decision you've subconsciously already made. Like maybe you really don't want to have a conversation because you don't think it will solve anything and/or it will just kick up a bunch of dust when you know you have no intention of making a change anyway. Or maybe it's just not yet time for you to have the conversation? I feel like sometimes what's hardest is feeling like we should have all the answers now. I worry a lot about being too slow to act, but I also am trying to learn to trust the timing of my life. Like you get there when you get there when you get there. Or maybe you never get there? I don't know!

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I don't know either. And that's why it's soooooooo haaaaaaaaaard!

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Sara thank you for writing this! It couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been writing something for the last few weeks that I’ve been scared about sharing and am going to post it tomorrow ... knowing about a vulnerability hangover will help me anticipate it so I won’t be surprised with how I feel afterwards.

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Hey Kevin - that's awesome. And who knows, maybe you won't have one? I've found that sometimes it's just liberating to put out there! Good luck.

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Feb 22, 2021Liked by Sara Campbell

I somehow missed last week's newsletter/post but just read it and it feels like an oddly appropriate thing for me to read right now (the past two weeks I've edged really close to experiencing emotional burnout--I only know because I've been through it before) and combined with stress about my future and this past year, I really needed to hear that someone else has been in the same place. It's like I know that but hearing it is just so...reassuring. So no need for that vulnerability hangover. If anything, thank you for being vulnerable.

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Thank you, Lauren — I’m so glad you got the message when you needed it! As far as being in the same place, I’d say you’re in great company. If I had to do last week’s issue again, I’d include a list of total badasses who have had a breakdown of some kind. It’s a long one.

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