This post is honest and it won't be for everyone. It's the pent up, mind churning post that's been marinating in an attempt to assess the essence of the happy runner, on both her best and her worst day. I wanted the happy runner to be for the optimist, but in true form she will always be a realist. Just as happiness will always be a choice.
It's on my way to work that I have the most ghastly thoughts. This is likely because I'm headed to one of if not the very last place I'd like to be going. It's as I stand down on the subway platform dripping sweat and feeling like a horse raced too hard on a hot day that I look around and feel actual loathing. I'm disinterested by everyone enduring their morning grind because I’m consumed in my own. I yearn for a pollution filled breeze, just to feel like anything is moving at all. My mind fills with dreams to run (really, to run away) to take the edge off the dread I have in returning another day to a place that doesn’t fit my skillset with people who don’t seem like they’ll ever relate to me.
It wasn't always this way. In my last job I loved the people I worked with. I respected and looked up to them. I felt they were my friends and my advocates inside and outside the work place. I didn't like the work there either, so I took a leap of faith and began a new adventure.
See, that’s the thing isn’t it? We’re told again and again to take a chance, start an adventure, close our eyes, and “leap”. We read books and stories, watch movies, and hear reports on all of the amazing things that can happen if you just “take a chance.” I’m here to represent the 99% of the world where this didn’t go as planned. I’m here to tell you that I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of the part in that book where they tell you “I failed 100 times before I got it right.”
I came to this new place hoping it could be the combination of interesting work and a family culture. I'd like to think a place exists where I can find both. I want what I think we all want, which is to be creative in a space where I learn and grow, supported by people I look up to even if I don’t always agree with them. It doesn't seem ridiculous but when I speak to people about my every-single-day frustration, they look at me like I'm crazy. They give me the "oh you're young and cute to think you'll like your job" expression, and it makes me sick to my stomach to think that this is what people accept as normal...
Go to work
Work the job you hate
With the people you don't respect
Go home and do happy things for a few hours
Go to bed
This will not be my life cycle. I refuse. We should all refuse.
In the free world we're lucky to live in there are options, so why am I not feeling brave enough to try them? I've discussed this topic with dozens if not hundreds of people. It's easily one of my favorite topics:
1. What would you do if you could do anything?
No, really, anything. If you could wake up without judgement and do something from now until your last day, what would it be?
2. What's stopping you?
I'm so interested in the second question.
Most people - and granted not all - have an answer for the first. The ones who don't are in a separate category, my concern for them covered in another post. But for the ones that can define what it is that makes them happy, why on earth won't they pursue it?
When I ask the second question I hear things like:
I can't move, my family is here.
I think I'm a few months from a promotion.
I'm too old.
I'm waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
Or worse. They laugh at me; like it’s so absolutely ridiculous that they would pursue the thing that makes them happy that they can't believe that I would be asking.
Your family is here? How often do you see them? If you left to pursue the thing you loved, don't you think that would make not only you but them filled with excitement?
You're a few months from a promotion to what? Senior director of the shit you can't stand? I'm all for promotions - and believe me I'm all for wealth - but only within the realm of creating progress towards something that matters. Accepting that means something different for each of us.
I'm too old. This might be the funniest one because every single day we wake up older, so get moving grandma.
The right opportunity is now. It has to be, because you only have so long to write the book on your “leap of faith” success or risk getting stuck in my current position of jump, fall, and get bruised.
A few weeks ago one of my very best friends bought me a journal, and on the cover are the words "Good Vibes Only." She smiled when she gave it to me and told me to only write the good things in here, the happy thoughts and plans. I was so excited by this. It seemed perfect and I wanted to use it for all my musings, plans, wanderings, long runs, and new adventures.
But somehow in the tidal wave of summer end sadness, it started to curse me and mock me from its spot on my night table. It would whisper dares in my ears when I reached to write on its pages about how I'd let my progress stagnate, that I wasn't moving forward in this life I preached. That I wasn't making the choices I promised myself I would...wasn't living the life or wasn't living the facade I had sought to adopt.
I was terrified to write in its pages because I felt I had no good vibes to share. Excitement was barely making it out the door to a run. Normal was not making it to the yoga class I was hoping for the next day because I couldn't leave work on time. Adventure was simply escaping the city on the weekend, trying to be mindful enough in those moments to let the distance heal the angst. Healthy became the weakness for convenience...my relationship with food always suffering when I get stressed out. So the journal became a laughing matter because I didn't feel like I deserved to fill its pages with my doubt.
But again the road healed. Like it somehow always does. I spent my time out there thinking about how sorry I’d allowed myself to feel for my mis-stepped leap of faith; slowly coming to the realization that with each passing day I was living, sleeping, and waking just fine. It wasn’t the dramatic tragedy I’d turned it into at all.
It was a directional shift, a piece of experience that would ultimately sit outside the frame of what my future self would come to count as accomplishment. But it’s still important.
With the energy I was gaining from this realization, coupled with the arsenal I’d built up with my summer rage over my horrible This is potentially going to be another colossal failure, but you know what? While I don’t think it will, while I think that this – like every plan – is my best idea to date, if it does fail I’ll be that much more prepared to pack up my pity party and move on from the next one.