I have a strange love of blogging when I am anxious…it’s like all the super creative juices get flowing and BAM! The inspiration hits me and you are reading one jazzy blog post.

Not this time folks, you’ve got yourself a “Tessa forgot her book before boarding her plane post and refuses to check her emails for three glorious hours.”

Anyways I digress and I am sure the editor of I Am Tessa, Amanda, would warn me that this is not the ideal way to start a blog.

Life’s been a bit messy, beautiful and overwhelming more so than ever before. I mean 22 year old running a nonprofit, operating in two different cities between two time zones with 4 schools, 1600 students, 4 ASSET Coaches, 2 interns….you get it.

I love running ASSET. I love equipping schools with the tools to help their students work through anxiety. It’s important work, but it’s probably the furthest thing from “easy work”. Some days it feels damn near impossible and I’d really like to cry about what I’ve gotten myself into, but instead I show up.

I show up.


And again.

And when I feel I’ve had just enough of showing up to the hard stuff, I show up some more.

A couple of weeks ago, I jumped on a call with one of my dear friends, Pavel.

Pavel, right now is showing up in Uganda running Mindfullwe, an organization equipping community members to be lay health workers to fill the gap of under resourced mental health services.

Pavel and I like to consider us honorary team members of each other’s organizations. If an organizational role could be “head cheerleader”, Pavel would fill that for ASSET and I’d be that for Mindfullwe.

We talked about how tough it was for Pavel to live in Uganda coming from Denver, and launching a brand new mental health organization—but my friends; he is showing up amongst the damn near impossible.

Pavel’s Tough Shit: Moving to a new country with no family or friends. Building partnerships with government organizations. Re-designing a training manual originally for India for Uganda. Fundraising. Kick-starting a mental health organization. NOT EASY.

Mine: Running a nonprofit for the first time. Fundraising. Building school partnerships. Writing curriculum. Training teachers. Onboarding coaches and interns. Launching a case study with the largest school district in Colorado. Living between two places. DIFFICULT.

We found ourselves reflecting that it was strange for two VERY anxious people, Pavel living with OCD and myself with the super-rad cocktail of anxiety disorders, chose one of the most anxiety-provoking life choices: entrepreneurship.

We called ourselves masochists. Laughed about it. Slightly cried about it (or at least I did).

During our call, I realized something that my very brave friend, Pavel and I, do well is we show up even when life scares the shit out of us.

Maybe one of the beautiful things about growing up with such severe anxiety disorders is that I’ve known nothing but showing up, again and again and again? If I’ve wanted to do anything, ever, in my life, I’ve had to show up despite how anxious I was feeling.

Bless the anxiety disorders once again.

So what is this “showing up” she speaks of?

Showing up is saying, “I see you pain, I honor you tears, and I am afraid of this seemingly impossible situation, but I am doing my best (whatever that is) and that is all anyone can ask of me.”

Showing up is never about being perfect. It’s meeting the pain with all you’ve got; all of your heart. I think when we meet the tough stuff with the whole heart, the unexpected happens and mountains move. Not because it was easy, but because we simply had the courage to do something most wouldn’t: honor the fear and meet it with love.

I am about to show up to ASSET’s partner school in Harlem on their first day of implementing our curriculum. Am I excited? Kale yeah! Am I anxious? Slightly. Is it going to go perfectly? Nope— nothing ever does on the first day. Will I show up despite all of this? Damn straight.

And I’ll do it again, and again.

Because that’s all we can ever do is show up—it’s all we can ask of ourselves.


Tip: It's easier to show up to tough stuff when you borrow a dog to come home to.