It’s Harder Than It Looks

A good friend and I are in similar life places. We are both determined to live the best life possible. To not settle. To do work that utilizes and through use, expands our abilities and talents. Work that feels meaningful. We want to be creative and produce creative work. We want to be in relationships that are passionate and committed and true partnerships. We want to travel and see the world. We want to say “yes” more than we say “no”.

We want to live our “A-game”.

And we’re doing pretty good. On our individual paths, we’re doing it.

I am going to have the best life I can manage and I will die trying. I didn’t use the usual “or” there because we all die. And I will keep trying for that life until the end.

But, it’s harder than it looks.

While I am baffled to stick to the small safe life, I sometimes have little moments of envy. Change is hard. Adventure requires risk. Living boldly can mean leaps of faith.

And, well, it’s harder than it looks. Here’s why:

  1. Other people’s negative opinions: I know. I know. Other people’s opinions are none of my business…You can’t please all the people all the time… But it stings when people judge my choices with a mean streak. When I hear of snipey gossip or disappointed sighs. Silence from those I want to be supportive.
  2. My own judgments:  I’m a responsible person, so it’s hard to do something that feels like a giant leap. Because a lot of what drives me towards the life I want is internal, it’s challenging for me to make a big life choice based on my gut instinct. I want evidence. Facts. Proof. Guarantees. I have a segment to my personality that is a worrier, second guessing every decision. I have to work at it to keep that tendency in check.
  3. Failing Allies: I didn’t know how to quite put this, but these are the people who I thought were also bringing their A game and wanted what I wanted and we’re in this together and so forth, but they quit. They give up. It feels like a betrayal. Sometimes it is.
  4. I get tired. There are just days when it feels extra hard and I’m not sure what I’m going to do or why I am doing any of it and I just want to eat a tub of popcorn with a chaser of Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream.
  5. Past failures: Life doesn’t always go according to plan. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve had other people’s choices cause my failure. I tried things that just didn’t work. The ghosts of failures past can haunt new dreams.
  6. God: My faith is a big part of this whole thing. But when something fails to line up or God seems silent or when it’s EXTRA hard, well, let’s just say my prayers are a little surly.

Here are some antidotes I use:

  1. Don’t ask, don’t tell: I don’t discuss my details with people I don’t feel offer insight or support. I like diverse opinion and have my respected advisors, but that is a helluva’ lot different than judgment. Don’t cast your pearls before…people who will mistake them for peas.
  2. Find your tribe: I have a very short list of people who are like-minded and I can turn to. I had to find the people who want the same kind of life I do. I embrace these people and want to reciprocate with my own encouragement. I support them because they have hard days too. I also use the right kind of books, movies, tv shows, and the TED talks…all of it.
  3. What you resist will persist: When my own inner voice starts in, I sit down and listen and let her vent. And then I question those thoughts- what’s going on here? Am I dehydrated? Tired? Hormonal? I air it out and breathe easier.
  4. Be gentle: I have a friend who announced she will be changing jobs, moving out of state, and ending a relationship that stopped working a long time ago. My advice: “Be kind to yourself. That is a lot.” Now, here I am in similar circumstances and I need to give myself the same care. Sleep. Stay hydrated. It’s embarrassing how many times I have a meltdown, and then get some sleep and wonder what all the fuss was about.
  5. Failing Forward: This concept has been around for a while, but this phrase is new for me and I love it. It’s akin to the story of how many times Edison failed at inventing the light bulb. His quote, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.”  My worst failure will be not trying. My next worst is to not learn the lessons previous attempts taught me. But wisdom comes from experience.
  6. God: I know. He’s on both lists, but that seems fitting given, well, you know, he’s God and all. Here’s a small example. I was reading the Bible and there was a small phrase that was only a part of the verse. And it was “even the doubters” and that phrase felt extra important. Even the doubters pray. I don’t doubt God, but I do get doubts about other things and so I pray. And once the surly fades, it’s much better.

A life of passion, adventure, meaning, art, love, substance brings great reward but does not come without risk. Is the risk worth it?