“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ” – Maya Angelou

I have a very heavy tendency to write about very deep, introspective matters on vague terms–this is one of those times. Last December, I was sitting in the stairwell of my high-rise apartment in Portland, Oregon on the phone having a series of deep conversations about who I am and what I aspire to be.

I had just ended a weighty and stagnant period of my life and was sitting in a limbo area unsure of where I wanted to go next. All of my preconceptions about how life works and what’s right and good were gone. And I realized I didn’t fully know who I was to ascertain what was right and good. But last winter, after a fresh blanket of snow showered onto the back lawn of my building, an untempered, unwavering passion soon followed and melted not just that snow, but a lot of beauty lying dormant within me, beauty I was incapable of seeing for myself.

In 2011, I had this resolution to be “brutally honest.” And I did. And without realizing it, that brutal honesty brought some of the most beautiful things into my life. In 2012, my resolution was to “get confident, stupid!” Although I didn’t know what that would entail.

As it turns out, getting confident means understanding who you are at your very root and core. In each of us is a glowing ember of energy that fuels everything we do. The ember gets smothered by all the negativity that we push inside–that negativity calcifies and hardens with age and requires a rather exhausting excavation to break through once it’s settled. It’s time-consuming to break through and alone, it often seems impossible. We grow cold when we can no longer feel or see that ember.

Sometimes when you’re not even looking for it, though, someone unwittingly takes a light and shines it into you and helps you see for yourself all the love and beauty recessed inside the cracks of all that gunk. And that’s what happened to me in 2012.

In 2012, I let go of everything in my life to find that glowing ember. I let go of my home. I let go of my belongings. I let go of myself. I carved myself anew. I had to confront flaws of mine. I had to accept my ignorance of things and allow myself to learn. I had to humble myself and only then could I feel compassion for the first time in my life. I had to embrace myself and love myself.

We look at change as “something new.” But change is a lot more than something new. It’s learning to take what you have and make it into something beautiful and astounding. It’s learning to grow from your experience, grow from your mistakes, grow from your failures. In many ways, change is more dependent on confidence than anything else you will ever experience.

Don’t fear change. It’s how you got where you are today.