“Sometimes I’m doing things considered crazy by others, but then my heart giggles. That’s when I know I am doing the right thing.”
I’ve been writing this blog post for 4 weeks now, and I know I probably should have posted it and moved on, but the issue lay with the fact that I never got my point across. So here it is in plain words.
Big changes aren’t scary. What’s scary is the person you might become when you make them.
When I was little I wanted to be Laura Croft or Indiana Jones. I wanted to be that big strong person who travelled all over and who was insanely smart and went on crazy adventures. I moved in and out of that phase as I grew up, for a while I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a chef, I literally wanted to be so many things.
But in the end I chose to be a journalist, because I could make it my goal to travel like that and tell the world what I saw even if it wasn’t in a movie.
I lost that goal when I got out of college. I was tired, had starved myself, and was dealing with much more anxiety and depression than what I could handle alone. I let myself slip into a settled down office job, met a boy, and worked the 9-5 picket fence life.
And for 10 months I managed to live like that. But I couldn’t figure out why I was so depressed, even though I was working as a writer and making enough money to make fellow writers jealous.
It wasn’t until December, when I dropped the boyfriend bit, that the rest of the gunk seemed to seep out of that wound. It only took 2 days for me to realize that that was the chance I needed to figure out why I was depressed and fix it.
I spent an entire day sobbing in a Barnes and Noble (btw, shout out to the people who work there and didn’t kick me out). Afterwards I drove to have dinner with previously dumped boyfriend to see if there was anything worth salvaging. And it was in those few minutes with him that I realized the reason why I had had so many troubles (spoiler alert, it’s not him).
When I finished my degree it was time to go do the thing, and I was scared to become the thing that I wanted to be. So I hid myself in the upstairs closet behind a boyfriend with a computer and the lights out.
The break-up made me realize that there was no way in hell that I could be happy at this point in my life by settling down and being happy in a menial job. I had to do this alone, and I had to fight for ten year old me.
Basically I had to stop being such a fucking pussy.
Step 1: Promise Yourself
The advice that surrounds making goals, or even making big changes in your life to fit goals is to make them SMART:
We’ve all been preached that nonsense for YEARS! Quacks have been touting this as the ultimate way to make your dreams happen, typically coupled with “make changes that the person you would want to be would make”. BARF.
I can honestly tell you that the times I have followed this advice to make my dreams happen, I ended up anxiety ridden, starving, and mostly hated my life. I don’t honestly recommend it.
For me the idea of achieving dreams had always had contrasting sides, you had the quacks like I talked about above, and you had literature that was telling a completely different story.
The hero always had the goal and then just did it. They had to plunge fearlessly into the Rabbit Hole to find adventure, or run head first into a forest to fight their enemies, or follow the yellow brick road to find the right man for the job. And I think the difference between the goals we set in real life and the goals heroes set in books is that we don’t view our goals as life and death. Glory and pain. We don’t see them as high stakes.
And the feeling of having to make our goals SMART holds us back from chasing the big stuff.
When I started realizing how far I had co
me away from the path that I wanted, one Alice in Wonderland quote stuck out to me:
“You used to be much more… Muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.”
I spent so much time scared of my own damn shadow that I was immobilized from making decisions for myself. And it was showing to the rest of the world. This was where I realized I needed to regain some control.
So I decided that my first step would be to make a promise to myself. I got the damn white rabbit tattooed on my forearm.
That way I can never forget the day that I realized just how big of a fucking pussy I was being, and so that I would never forget the promise I needed to make to myself. Death or Glory. I could either spend my life in this job, spending my money on useless things, and wondering where the time is going. Or I could go for broke on the big stuff.
Now I’m not saying that y’all have to tattoo your goals on your arms to make them happen. It was just my way of writing a permanent sticky note like “hey remember why you’re here”. What’s important is remembering the promise to yourself and not letting the little things get in the way.
Step 2: Make the Thing Possible.
My big jump down the rabbit hole meant that I had to fight for these things:
- I want to be a journalist.
- I want to travel.
- I want to be strong and fit.
- I want a cat that will hike with me.
- and I want my own place.
I flung myself into the fitness life, I applied to several hundred journalist jobs across the world, and I went ahead and purchased the tickets to Amsterdam.
All of these things were scary as fuck, and even harder than they were scary. Not because it was actually hard to do them, but because it was hard to remind myself that I could do them by myself, and that I needed to.
I think this is the part where most people get lost. There’s not really a period where you should dip your toes into the work that it will take to get where you want to go.
If you want to lose weight you need to find a dietician and a gym. If you can find a gym buddy or a coach, you’ll be that much better off. If you want to travel, you can’t wait for your friends or partner to be ready to go. They may never be. You have to save up your own money and do it yourself, if they want to join then that is amazing. You have to put the work into job applications, even though that means it takes forever, and you know you’re going to get a million rejection letters. (678 exactly for me).
The thing for me is that I’ve learned that when I dip my toes into something it’s usually too cold and I get scared and spend my time sitting on the beach. But my best moments were when I jumped in and dealt with the consequences as they came, because it was better to regret the movement than it was to regret the lack of experience.
Step 3: Do the Thing
So this is where I make excuses for how long it’s taken for me to get back to writing for y’all.
When I last wrote I was also preparing to take my vacation to Europe. It was the first big scary thing I had done on my own in a year, and it was time I went back there. I wanted to see where I had lived before, and I wanted to see something new. So I spent my time split between Scotland and the Netherlands.
It was cold, rainy, and snowy. I had a super fucking hard time seeing the things I wanted because I ended up sick and slightly miserable.
But the best day was when I took a tour through the highlands. I was with a bunch of Navy Seals who were on a break from their submarine. I couldn’t be as big of a pussy with them, because they were all in awe at a little 130lb white girl traveling alone in Europe. I had to keep up the facade even though I felt like crap.
But those were the best moments of the trip, there was great food, great beer, harry coo’s (hairy cow’s), and plenty of time outdoors and away from the city.
Even though I ended up super sick on my way home, and the trip way over blew my budget, it gave me a taste of the kind of fearlessness I’d been missing. And it set me up for the week that would follow.
Before I left I had had a job interview for a very small local paper in a tiny town in East Texas. I was pretty sure the job was mine, and after one of my references got in contact with me I was positive it’d work out.
But when I got home the editor informed me that the position was no longer available, and I moved on.
I kept applying to places for work, but I was starting to refigure my plans to be a journalist. I’m not a quitter, but I am a rethinker. I thought that maybe if I found a job that didn’t drain my creative energy 40 hours a week I could focus on creating documentaries and big writing pieces that would help me build a following and I could make my own way as a writer, without a newspaper.
It was the Tuesday following my trip that I decided that was what I was going to do, and I started applying for more blue collar work. I loved my job as a landscaper and could see myself doing that again while I wrote.
And there are 3 things that I learned the about the Universe in the 22 years I’ve been alive:
- Don’t negotiate
- Be patient
- Good karma goes a long ways.
It was the Monday following my return home and my rejection from the newspaper in Texas that the editor for that paper sent me a job offer.
I’m not sure what good deed I did to help them reopen the position, but I’m grateful that I did it. Because I was nearly ready to start negotiating, and had run entirely out of patience with the Universe.
But now I’m going to be doing the thing. And within about 2 months I will be travelling, a journalist, still be strong and fit, own my own place, and will be teaching a cat how to handle itself on a leash.
Not to compare myself to Harry Potter or anything, but seriously guys. Jumping down the rabbit hole and following the yellow brick road is a better option when you’re trying to do something big.