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Am I There Yet?

2010 August 4

I admire people who seem to have it all figured out. Those who seem to have direction and purpose, and go forth with confidence. You can usually spot them by their walk or their posture. They are comfortable in their own skin. They have considerably less stress in their lives. They aren’t racing around with an espresso in one hand and a smartphone in the other trying to manage fifty things at once. They are easy to be around and we are drawn to them even when we aren’t sure why. They are quick with a smile and a hand. They live in peace with themselves and their environments. I am not one of those people… yet.

I can’t help but wonder if constantly asking for a “sign” that I am headed in the right direction or doing the right thing is the equivalent of a kid asking, “Are we there yet?” every five minutes.

“No, we are not there yet.”
“If the car is moving, we are not there yet.”
“You will know when we are there.”
“We promise to wake you up.”
“We won’t leave you in the car while the rest of us go and get ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles and have fun.”
“Asking isn’t going to get us there any faster.”

Ok. Ok. I get it. But isn’t it still nice to have some re-enforcement? Isn’t it nice to be re-assured that even if we get a little off track once in awhile that we are indeed heading in the general direction we need to be?

I mean, nobody really wants to be “that” person on American Idol who really can’t sing and seems genuinely shocked by having that brought to their attention and having millions of people witness it, right? (Disclaimer: I have never really watched much American Idol, probably less than I could count on both hands, because I lived happily for nearly six years with just the two sometimes fuzzy channels I could bring in off my rabbit ears. I have been walking the fine line of technology and resistance for some time now. I still feel like it is an appropriately horrifying example regardless.)

The fact remains, however, that we need extremes. We need bad to define good and good to define bad. We need references and perspective.

Even still, we really only reward those who are successful and rarely pat someone on the back for their epic failure just because “they tried.” Maybe their mother or best bud might, but as a society we tend to exploit it, shun it, or pretend it never happened. And yet, many people who are really successful are only so because they have failed at some point. Is there an olympic skier who has never fallen or been hurt on the slopes? Or a mountain bike racer who has never bit it? No, because if you are not falling and crashing every once in awhile, then you are probably not skiing or riding hard enough, or pushing yourself enough… to improve.  But generally we only respect failure if, at some point, it results in success. Then, and usually only then, do we commend someone for their courage, commitment, and perseverance.

The risks are different for each person and what they are trying to achieve. It is not just physical harm, but can also be mental and emotional. Isn’t the pursuit of love one of the ultimate risks of pain and failure? Yet, our desire for what love represents to us usually outweighs the fear that we associate to the possibility of failure and pain. But what about our own personal success, growth, and happiness? Why do we not chase after those things with the same wild abandon we do for love? Fear? Guilt? There are many ways that we can justify our avoidance of the very things we desire.

It sometimes appears that there is a huge gap between those who do and those who don’t. And usually it is those who don’t who speak the loudest against those who do. Maybe it is out of a need to justify the place they have chosen to exist, or it is expressed out of their own fears of doing exactly what it is they are criticizing. Or maybe they just plain don’t understand… what it is, what is supposed to be, or what it takes. But, we need critics to provide that balance: the negative to the positive and stillness to movement. And even when it stings a little, the doers realize the value in it because they are constantly working to improve: improve themselves, improve what they are doing, and improve their contribution. Yes, it is great to have our own personal cheerleaders. Of course. But those who are really going to succeed also figure out a way to extract gold from the rock that was thrown through their window. Or at least use it as a paper weight.

There is something to be said for making an effort, for taking a chance and making yourself vulnerable. Sure, it is easy to not take risks, and to sit in judgment of those who do, but I don’t think there is much growth in that route. Even when we fail, we have an opportunity to learn. We grow. We have experiences that enrich our lives and prepare us for the future. And, there is so much value in that.

There can be growing pains, and even some awkward moments, but if we do not try, if we do not start somewhere – we have already failed. (Just not as publicly usually.) So those of us who can, do. We let go of the things that are holding us back. We let go of the limiting beliefs and we open the door to the possibilities. We figure out how to do it rather than sit and focus and complain about why we can’t. Wow, what a difference that can make!

I think the most important aspect of anything is that “you tried.” You made a decision. You acted on it. You did the best you could and followed it through, whether to success or failure and then moved on to the next thing. It is really easy to come up with reasons why we “can’t” do something and plenty of people to help us with that. But, you will also find that it can be just as easy (even if unfamiliar at first) to come up with ways to do something. And once you have confidence in that, there are plenty of people to help you with that process as well.

It is not about abandonment or avoidance of the things that are not working. It is about letting go of the things that are keeping you from pursuing a higher level within yourself, however that translates to your own personal or professional life.

So, although I am not there yet, I do have something to aspire to. I will try to remember to trust… trust my path, my instinct, trust the journey, and maybe most of all, trust myself. And… I will try to spend less time looking for road signs and more time enjoying the scenery.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. August 4, 2010

    Just wanted to write to give you a little “re-enforcement”. What you are doing is awesome and takes a lot of strength and faith. I know that Kaylee is thinking about you and praying for you all the time and I will include you in my prayers too. Go out there and explore the world and know that it is OK to look for signs from time to time just as long as you allow yourself to see all the signs rather that just looking for the one that you want to see. This is one thing that I have learned in life these days. I find myself looking for signs too, but when I don’t see the sign I want I miss the other good and bad signs that I should be seeing. Keep up the spirits and faith.

    • shana permalink*
      August 5, 2010

      Thanks Aaron. High spirits and faith are definitely two major components of this trip. 🙂 I also think we can see signs that aren’t there if we want to badly enough – it is hard to discern what is real and what isn’t at times, but that is where the faith and trust comes in. Good luck with your own personal journey as well!

  2. August 8, 2010

    Keep seeking, the answer lies deep within.


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