Do you ever step back and think beyond yourself about yourself? You know, like, away from your basic constitution as a human being to try and figure out why you do what you do?
Well, if you have (and even if you haven’t), join me in this edition of Thinking Out Loud with Amanda at Running with Spoons. (Lady, thank you for letting us all get it out — you’re truly awesome!)
Come this Friday, I have officially been in the UK for 60 days. That seems like forever, but considering I plan on staying here for a long time (possibly forever), it’s a drop in the (eternity) bucket.
I have had a very open dialogue about the stress and anxiety I have experienced since I moved here to live with my husband, Luke. Like, seriously, some of you are probably over hearing about it, but it’s still something I contend with daily.
I keep feeling like I should be more settled, should have a job (like, not even a great one), a sense of identity, and a general feeling of purpose. I mean, it’s sort of difficult to thrive when you don’t feel like a real person 90% of the time. I actually equate this feeling to the one I had after I graduated from college, moved to New York, and broke up with my long-term boyfriend — the only difference is, I had a (youthful) sense of optimism running through my veins back then.
It’s not like I knew what I wanted to do with my life back then, or anything. At least now I have a clear picture and focus of what I really want. I mean, does anybody other than like 3% of people really know what they want to do before the age of 30, 40 or ever really? Really?
That inability to know what I wanted from my life continued for YEARS and caused me to fill the void with all kinds of (not so good) habits and people.
As I am quickly approaching 35, I feel myself reflecting on everything (WAY more than when I turned 30, I mean, I had 4 years of wiggle room to still f*** up). I had no idea I would spend the past eleven years, since leaving college, doing the following things, over and over again:
Getting jobs and losing jobs.
Finding love and losing love.
Making friends and losing friends.
Gaining pounds and losing pounds.
Leaving America and returning to America.
Losing a parent.
Gaining a spouse.
Leaving America again.
Starting over completely.
When I look back on it, I can’t believe it all has happened. I mean, I’m a zygote in the grand scheme of things, and I feel like I’ve lived several lives already. That said, it was 11 years filled with laughter, love, tears, anger, happiness, loss, gains, and everything else.
As I face this (nearly) blank slate that is my life right now, I can’t help but laugh a bit that I think I feel scared. Scared of what? Rejection? I’ve been rejected more times than I can count, and it’s never failed to open bigger and better doors for me.
Um, hello, Erin, how many frogs did you have to kiss to find your prince?
I plead the fifth on that one, but yes, I have a wonderful husband and life partner for sure.
I have come to realize – I am not living in fear right now, no. I have been living too comfortably. I guess it’s my “intentional subconscious” (is that such a thing)? In the past –whenever I got uncomfortable — I lost something (people, ideas, goals), so, my brain feels like as long as I never get uncomfortable, I won’t have anything to lose.
However, I know that by not allowing myself to get uncomfortable (and potentially lose opportunities) I also will never raise the bar for myself.
After all, rejection is just a way for life to raise the bar for us all. Sure, when rejection happens, it sucks. It hurts. It makes you feel worthless, empty, and alone, BUT it also will push you onward (and hopefully upward).
Just think of all the people, places, and things we would never have experienced if rejection hadn’t raised their bar.
1. Albert Einstein. Apparently the parents and teachers of this guy thought he was “mentally handicapped” –which ended up now being seen as a learning disability, but he kind of turned out to be a big deal.
2. Elizabeth Gilbert. Liz was rejected as a writer for five years straight, until one of her articles was revived from a “slush pile” at Esquire and soon established her as the first unpublished short-story writer to debut in the magazine since Norman Mailer. Also, before she wrote Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of experience working as bartender at the famous Coyote Ugly bar was later turned into the film, Coyote Ugly.
3. Theodore Suess Geisel. The places this guy went — other than the bank — were far above and beyond the places the first 27 publishers he submitted transcripts of his first book thought he ever would.
4. Steve Jobs. He started Apple, and then got fired from it, but then left to start Pixar and was brought back on as the CEO of Apple. Here’s a beautiful (but humblingly sad) video of his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005. In this comencement he shares how an unconventional path and the drive to never lose sight of his passions made him the legacy he will forever be. (Special thanks to Jill Conyers for sharing this.)
5. Mold. Yeah, that creepy stuff that grows hair on things that shouldn’t ever have it, helps like save people’s lives now. I mean, it had a serious makeover, but seriously, if this gross inconvenience that lived in most of our college refrigerators never existed, people could die from things they catch on public transportation. True story.
Sorry about that last one, but I think it makes my point. As I am writing this post, I’m thinking of all the ways in which I will be uncomfortable in the weeks and months to come — and the inevitable rejection that follows such discomfort. However, I have to believe each discomfort will be accompanied by an opportunity to propagate my success rather than accelerate my failure.
In the end, that simple shift in mindset is proof of why I am where I am right now; stronger, wiser, and just uncomfortable enough to see what happens next.
As always, thanks for hanging in there whilst I think out loud.
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