I've spent the better part of my life avoiding darkness and suffering. Maybe you have, too.

I'm learning to love my rough edges: to confront them lovingly as I would a friend, and to nurture them just like I nurture my lightness.

Without shadows, there is no light. Without war, there is no peace. Without evil, there is no good. Without fear, there is no love.

Feeling fearful is unpleasant, but is there not joy in knowing you have enough to lose that you're feeling that way? How elated we could be to interpret fear as a sign we're already blessed.

Transgressions against someone we love can evoke within us feelings of guilt and shame. But our misdeeds are opportunities for growth and learning. Is there not beauty in messing up? How lovely we have the opportunity to fall and get back up again.

A capacity for darkness exists within each of us, and yet we deny it or excentuate our lighter qualities in the interest of appeasing others. True, it's more noble to love and to do good, and we ought strive to pursue these ends. But to be in touch with our darkness is to acknowledge our deep, complex humanity. It is to admit to ourselves and each other that we're alive, feeling, reeling, confused, and alone.

And that's okay. You're beautiful—shadows, light, and all.