If we believe in something wholeheartedly then we should have no fear in pursuing it to the max.
No fear of failure. Of rejection. Of loss.
If we feel it deep down in our core then we have to see it through one way or another.
In fact, we can’t lose either way.
On one hand, if we achieve what we wanted in the first place then we can reflect on the process it took to get there and the impact this will have on our lives going forward.
On the other, if it doesn’t work out, at least we know. I think “not knowing” is one of the things that hold us up from letting go of this idea. That thought of “can I really achieve this?”, “do they really want to be with me?, “can I overcome this obstacle?”
It eats at us.
So, at least if we know then we can change our mindset and alter our thinking. We don’t have to hold onto this idea any longer.
We can move on and move forward.
We can believe that there are better things up ahead for us.
We are either a part of that change or we are fighting against it.
Our body changes as we age but if we’ve been focusing on fitness and healthy eating, that change is quite delayed. If we haven’t, we start to feel those effects compound over time. Building healthy habits early on and sticking with them help form a foundation for us to live each day by.
When we go through a breakup or loss, that change is hard, but if we’ve been focusing on our self-reflection inward then we gain a different perspective on the situation. We start to be comfortable with who we are and that others compliment us. They do not define us. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. It can just suck much less.
When we lose a job, the same thing happens. If we rely on this job so much to keep up our lifestyle and identity then when it ends we are broken. It’s because we haven’t put in the work to recognize our strengths and give ourselves room to maneuver if need be.
We may not always be in control. We can’t control aging, we can’t control if someone breaks up with us, and we can’t control a job loss or a myriad of other life events.
But we can control if we are prepared for them.
We can control if we’ve taken proper measures to mitigate increased risk or pain.
We can control if we are willing to learn from each experience.
It starts by gaining better self-awareness. It starts by asking ourselves simple questions.
What really makes us happy?
Is this the right “fit”?
Do we need that new “toy”?
Are we okay if this doesn’t go our way?
Do we feel we have a great support system?
Asking simple questions about the foundations of our life offers a glimpse into the crystal ball and whether those will crack under more pressure or hold us upright to weather the storm.
Strong foundations lay the groundwork to build upon and allow us to take chances and be okay if it doesn’t work out.
We need to ask ourselves, today, what is our foundation built on, and are we confident it can hold up to the fiercest storm we might encounter?
We are told growing up that we have to cut the paper neatly without making a mistake or that we need to be sure to take our time and color between the lines. “That’ll look the best”, we were told and we were compared to others in our class who appeared much better and more skilled than us.
But that’s one skill. One small area of expertise. In a vacuum, sure, maybe that’s relevant but we shouldn’t crush our confidence over something so meaningless.
We are great at a lot of things and if we aren’t great then maybe we try hard and enjoy the chance of improving. We don’t have to be an expert, a guru, or savants just to take on a specific project.
That’s the fun of it altogether. Messing up. Trying and crumpling up the paper. Not caring if it takes another try.
That’s when this magic of two colliding things happens. There is this thing that many before us have completed, accomplished, and tackled in their own way. Now we get to come in, with our unique perspective and experience on it all and create something incredibly different.
It may not even be recognizable and that’s quite alright. That’s when we create things that are truly original.
But we won’t know until we try. And we have to get out of our head that it needs to be some level of perfection.
A hard truth in life is that we can’t be the one to someone else until we can be the one to ourselves.
Most relationships don’t end later on down the line like it appears they do. Generally, when a relationship ends it was going sideways for a long time before.
Really, they end well before they even start.
It will inevitably happen if we don’t learn to practice “self-love” and seek to understand our own inner workings on how to best communicate, trust, support and respect the other person we are with.
It can be easy to blame a significant other when things start to go bad but the hardest part, the most needed part, is figuring out what we are doing wrong and how we could fix it. The finger should only be pointing in one direction until we can figure ourselves out.
If we show up for ourselves first then we’ll be able to show up for anyone else later.
When we tie our self-worth to what we see others doing online we put our minds in a place of false reality. We trick ourselves into thinking this is real.
Those people in the videos with the crowd cheering their name, or in the picture with the caption of them professing their love and unwavering happiness to a significant other, or tagging themselves with another humblebrag about another award they recently won all have the same things in common as us.
They feel pain.
They feel left out.
They feel alone.
They question their purpose.
They question their work.
They question if they deserve to be in the position they are in.
We shouldn’t think that somehow we are behind. We shouldn’t think that somehow we didn’t get sprinkled with the magic pixie dust of “success” and are now less of a person.
We have to get out of our heads about it and create the great work that we know we love to do. Be around the people that fill us up. Do the things that make us feel energized and alive.
The rest of the stuff works itself out if we are making decisions that lean into those areas that make us happy or at least have the potential to make us happy.
We still may be figuring it all out but so is everyone else. Just because someone is able to commit more time to gloss up a photo or putting out more content it doesn’t mean they are better than any of us.
We all matter and we all have a gift we can give to the world. If we know ours then that’s great but if we’re still figuring it out just know that’s okay as the journey to discovery can be painful and lonely at times.
But know that it’s worth it.
And when we discover it, we won’t have to question our purpose any longer and we’ll be ready to give it generously.
Our world wants big and bold and lavish lifestyles. We see it all over mainstream media. The “keeping up with the Joneses” ideals seem real. That’s at least the stories we were told growing up.
Get a job and work your way up so you can buy things and be happy and then when you retire you can ride off into the sunset. We were told to idolize the Hollywood celebrities and those that were “successful” which really meant those that were “rich”.
We were told a lie.
The loudest person in the room doesn’t necessarily win.
Just because we might happen to hear them doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. It doesn’t mean we have to join in.
We have the choice.
Sometimes silence and separating from the digital world becomes the true gift. Not “fitting in” can actually be a blessing because we don’t have to feel like we are comparing ourselves to anyone else. As we all know, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.
So when the world is shouting “Go left” it’s not a bad idea to sneak down the alleyway and go right. It’s not a bad idea to make decisions that make us happier versus making decisions that make us “appear” happier.
The people that live the most extraordinary lives are often the ones doing it in the shadows, out of the limelight, and away from the noise of the glittering lights.
As I continue to go through this reflection period and have dipped into the memory bank of my earlier days it never dawned on me how many obstacles were in my way to grow as a person. Some of them I conquered, others it took many years to overcome, and others were sheer luck when they were removed for me, hence is the case with my older brother.
As a middle child, it was a brutal upbringing. Never feeling adequate enough as the 2nd son but certainly not new or different enough as the younger daughter. I felt stuck. I didn’t have many friends outside of school and hung out with a lot of my brothers’ friends. It’s funny now, really, but back then I looked up to him as an older brother and wanted to do the things he did. That’s pretty natural in most families and definitely wasn’t different in mine. Being only 17 months apart, we were close enough in age to play a lot of sports together and enjoy some of the same things. But we were so different it wasn’t even close. We thought similarly as we do to this day, but our actions were different which makes sense with his position as the first child and my place as the 2nd fiddle.
It was like that all the way through school. He was the cool, obnoxious, funny kid and I was, well, Nick’s brother. I played the role well and hid my feelings which most kids do and went on with it. What else was there to do.
But then my chance came to break out of the funk. A glimmer of hope to break free from the shackles of that existence. My big brother left for college.
So here I was, atop the mountain I so desperately was looking for. Finally, I took advantage. From afar you might not have noticed, but I knew there was a change. I was more outgoing, more sure of myself, and more the life of the party. See I too had quite a sense of humor, self-deprecating at times, and since I had forged my way as the “everyman”, I fit into many groups. I could hang with the athletes, spark conversations with the smart kids, and didn’t have a hard time talking to the girls (well unless it meant asking them out!). Still, some work needed to be done there.
What I noticed looking back is that I had built the tools in place to “win over” the crowds and be very likable and fit in almost anywhere.
I had learned emotional intelligence from being the quiet one and observing my surroundings.
I built my confidence slowly from working hard on my golf game and earning my own money through various jobs.
I learned empathy and compassion from hanging around with my grandparents
I learned to listen from watching a lot of interview TV from Regis and Kathie Lee, David Letterman, and Oprah.
It was only when the main obstacle was moved to the side that all of these things, that I didn’t really realize back then were strengths, came to life, and allowed me to open up as a person and spread my wings.
I think this can be a lesson for anyone out there struggling to find their own way. You may have what you need already to push forward and succeed but maybe there is that one obstacle standing in your way. Maybe it is the wrong job, wrong city, wrong group of friends, or something completely different. I got lucky that my big brother went to college, but you may have to pull back the layers a bit more to find what is holding you back.
Look at all the clues and whiteboard it if you have to but more times than not the most logical answer is probably the right one. The right answer may not be the one you want it to be but at least you have identified the problem and can take action to overcome it.
Once you get that boulder out of the way I’m confident that you too will be able to spread your wings and fly.