I haven’t blogged much lately. I have struggled to find the inspiration.
During a particularly introspective and thoughtful time, I started a blog on an airplane home after one of my recent adventures. It was meant to be Part 3, the final chapter, of my first two Big Life, Big Work, Big Love Blogs. Blogs I wrote that somewhat chronicled my journey and mission to change my life over the last three years.
It was a long blog that I wrote on that plane. When I got home, I immediately shelved it never to see the light of day. That’s where it will stay. Although everything in that blog was honest, I didn’t feel like I was really saying what I wanted to say. I have thought a lot about that over the past few weeks.
If you don’t know me or haven’t read my blogs in the past, the short backstory is that I have changed every single thing in my life over the past three years. Some of which I have shared. Some of it wasn’t even really change but just finally giving myself permission to be me. The ‘me’ that I had buried for most of my adult life. All of it has been about letting go of fear.
I told a friend recently that it is war. It is a daily battle to strive to find the positive, to live a life that is authentic and to be happy. To live the life you truly want rather than the life that is ‘expected’ of you.
You learn a lot when you take off the blinders. I could write volumes but what do I really want to share? What just might make a difference to somebody else? Maybe help someone else take the first step in that journey they so desperately need?
Fear is a cancer and it comes in all shapes and sizes. It is often rooted in what others think is ‘acceptable’, what they expect from you or your own lack of confidence or sense of inadequacy. It is so easy to tell yourself that you can’t chase a dream or make a change because it will not be well received by others, or maybe you might fail or a host of other things that you can tell yourself because you are afraid to try. Because you are afraid to do the work, and possibly go through some difficult times, to get to where you want to be.
So, what’s the alternative? Stay unhappy, complacent, apathetic, bored and/or unfulfilled? Trust me when I tell you that is no alternative. It eats away at you until one day you realize that you don’t much like the person you have become.
Just do it. I don’t care how hard it is (and it can be pretty hard). Let go of that fear and reach for what you are searching for. Take that first step, which is the hardest, and then take the next one. The steps are never going to end. If you are doing it right it will be a lifelong commitment. BUT, if you keep taking them, I promise you will be a happier person. I promise that you will like yourself more. I promise that you will look forward to greeting each day’s challenges and kicking them in the ass and I promise you will move closer to what really makes you happy. I promise you will be less afraid.
Why is this the hardest thing? Still a daily struggle for me sometimes.
It is the hardest thing because we are conditioned from a very young age to wear a mask. To present a pretty picture that pleases others and is acceptable to expectations of society as a whole. We are conditioned not to offend, to avoid conflict (I hate conflict) and ‘be nice’.
Guess what – you can be authentic and true to yourself and still ‘be nice’, not hurt others and avoid conflict. It’s more about approach and how you deal with things than it is about just being ‘you’. It’s about choosing your battles. It’s about not sweating the small stuff. It’s about constant evaluation and what can really be accomplished in a given situation. It’s about letting go of things that don’t matter or hurt you.
My world continues to explode (in a really great way) as I work on shedding the layers, removing a bit more of the mask and tearing down the unnecessary walls that I have built for myself. Each time I chip away at a little piece of it, my world is enriched just a little bit more. It’s not easy. It takes a conscious decision, every single day, to try to be positive and share who you really are. That is scary because it is vulnerable and I personally HATE being vulnerable. Being vulnerable leaves you open to hurt and disappointment and nobody enjoys that. BUT, being vulnerable and open leads those around you to do the same. It is real, it is authentic, it is amazing. Most of all, hurt or not, it is worth it.
It seems that I like the ‘real’ me far more than I liked the ‘pretend’ me. So does everybody else.
It’s About The People
Ahhh, the value people put on ‘stuff’ and money. Let me tell you – money and stuff mean nothing if you are not fulfilled and happy as a person. I don’t care how much of it you have. What is really important are the people that surround you.
When I chose to get divorced almost two years ago (one of my many changes) – I left a big four bedroom house with all the trappings to live in a pretty small two bedroom duplex. I left 90% of the stuff and a two income household behind to pursue a life that is right for me, on my own. Totally solo, scared as hell and never more sure of anything in my life. I also left behind some of the people which was hard but necessary. I felt an actual physical response to the weight being lifted. A weight that I hadn’t even realized had become so heavy. Shedding the ‘stuff’ was liberating.
Funny thing happened on the way to the Forum. As I grew, changed and embarked on this journey – I have met some amazing people. People who accept me for me no matter how crazy they think I am. People who support me, guide me, empower me, amuse me, intrigue me, love me and enrich my life – every single day. I try damned hard to be that same person back to them. I fail all the time but I never stop trying.
The realization hit hard that it has never been about the stuff, the job, the money or whatever materialistic thing that you want to throw out there that somehow, supposedly define s ‘success’.
The real success comes in the quality of the people who surround you in both what you get and more importantly, what you give. It’s always been about the people and it is so easy to neglect that in the increasingly busy, demanding world that we live in. What a shame that we let that happen. How much do we miss when we set aside what is truly meaningful and of value. I would give up all the ‘stuff’ if I could be sure to keep the people.
The Moral of this Story
I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. All of the things that I have talked about here today are a lifelong mission that I recommit to every single day. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. What matters is that I keep trying. What matters is that effort has and continues to change my life in very real and positive ways that I didn’t even imagine were possible.
Just do it. Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid. Take that first step. Celebrate and share the real ‘you’.
Most important of all, never lose sight of those amazing people! It is so unbelievably worth it.
Big Life, Big Work, Big Love