A few weeks ago, I made a rather drastic decision. Before I actually made it, I would wake up every morning, make an attempt to do some yoga while my dog barked at my ass and think:
“This is what I have to do.”
And immediately I’d launch a barrage of arguments against my own decision. The one that stood out more than all the others was, “That’s a completely irrational option!”
So perhaps I may have tried to explain to my dog what I was thinking, and he may have given me a very judging look at which point I may have considered seeing a psychiatrist.
I realise now that my decision wasn’t so much irrational as differently rational. What precipitated my decision was a conversation with three people who are very important in my life and who understood the difficulty I was facing.
One asked: “What do you really want to do with your life?”
The other asked: “What have you done so far to achieve your lifelong dreams? And in truth, how has what you have been doing helped you actually acquire any of those dreams?”
The last guy, he just came in and said: “Juliet, just stop for the life of me, just stop getting in your own way.”
I admit I did in fact have to go and find out how I was potentially getting in my own way psychologically. To stop getting in my own way I had to recognise a few things.
1. My view of life and what is important in my life is uniquely mine because after all, only I have experienced what I have and only I have reacted to it the way I have. I can therefore not compare my life and life choices to anyone else, peer or not.
2. You can only attempt to share your dream with others. They can choose to join you and make it a part of their dream. Or they can choose to walk away from it. Some might even give the impression of accepting your dream and get halfway there and either try to change your dream to fit their own or to change your dream into theirs.
When that happens, you have two choices – you can go with the flow, or you can revert to your own dream and seek to build it to the success you envisioned it. Sometimes that means starting all over from scratch but actually doing something about it.
3. I had to change my attitude and even my own habits. I tend to over think things maybe even obsess a little. Ok. A lot. It’s just been my way of coping. I plan, organise, try to see what can go wrong or right, anticipate how to respond… That way, I feel that nothing can really surprise me. It can be a good thing, but it can also be the worst thing especially when you do not have much control over how things will be done, or even how they will turn out.
As I chart my new life, I am teaching myself to plan reasonably and then take it a little easy if things don’t turn out absolutely perfectly. I am probably still hoping for near perfection, but it is helping to acknowledge that other people can have a version of perfect and that on occasion it might be better than mine.
I am learning where using prediction reasoning is appropriate and where I have to take into account human players and other unpredictables.
4. I have learnt to respect the right people. As a young entrepreneur without a conventional degree, I may have put a very high premium on people with college degrees to help my work succeed. As a young woman in the society I may have looked up at people who seemed to have clinched the general notches in the proverbial climb up the ladder of ‘social maturity’.
In that, I have realised I made a grave mistake. What I should have been doing is listening to people who have tried, failed and tried again and succeeded. In other words people who have served on the apprenticeship of life, and have actually STUDIED to succeed.
Now, do not mistake the above to mean that all older, successful people are to be looked up to. That is not anywhere near what I am thinking of.
Someone told me, “Genius is born of courage, courage to go the other way when the masses walk down the hill, of grabbing that panga and cutting your way through the jungle. But courage of the kind that is not so arrogant that it is hubris, not so proud that it has no respect for human dignity, not so ambitious that it loses empathy.”
I am actively surrounding myself with just enough of the right kind of people to remind me what creativity and entrepreneurship mean on one hand, and to keep the values of human dignity, respect, empathy and responsibility in my sight on the other hand.
5. But more importantly I have had to accept that it does not matter what other people think, what matters is that I know, through examination and even study, that what I believe with all conviction is right and true is mine to believe and act upon. And that going against my deepest convictions will only result in the deepest inconsolable sadness.
I have a long way to go before I can get out of my own way completely. I know I might get distracted into using other people’s measuring sticks for success but I am now aware of that flaw and I can be more reasonable… when I remember.
I know that being chronically ill can add a whole new level of behavioural flaws that can become a source of confusion and distraction. I can’t even begin to lie that I know how to deal with this particular issue, when one day I can begin to hope and on the other I can find my body completely betraying me. So let’s just say it is a working progress. One day at a time. Counting every spoon of blessing…
My best friend stood over me a few weeks ago while I struggled with a bad reaction from my medication and she said, “Starting a business now wasn’t a mistake. It was a learning experience. An opportunity for the universe to remind you what feeds your creativity, and an opportunity for you to learn from the world.”
That too is a spoonful.