My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘not giving up’

Living in the Almost

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Do you ever feel like you are living in the so close, in the there but not quite, in the almost?

There is a place in which most accomplished-but-still-self-doubting people (aka yours truly) frequently exist. It’s a creeping place, the kind that gnaws at you and refuses to let you forget that you are not there. It’s the land of people who are successful but aren’t quite sure how, who feel like they lucked out into something they actually worked really hard for–the people who hold their breath because they think one false move will make it all go away.

It’s the feeling that what you’re doing, what you’ve done, who you are–everything about you is almost but not quite good enough. Almost but not quite exactly what anyone else is looking for in that moment, in that instance, in that circumstance. Whatever the goal–a job, a relationship, hell, even a strong enough credit score to land an apartment–there is some sinking, nagging feeling that you overlooked something, that you just said one tiny thing wrong, that you didn’t do everything perfectly, and so because of that one small, hairline fracture, everything else will come tumbling down.

So you overanalyze. You microanalyze. You lay awake at night, trying to find the flaw, picking yourself and your attributes over like I do over a plate of nachos, even though you know by now that there is nothing else to glean. There is no more. What you did is what you did, and what will happen, happens. You say this like a mantra. Que sera, sera. What is out of your control will happen whether you like it or not you worry yourself to death over it.

Still, though, there is that fear.

So you overwork. You overcompensate. You run yourself ragged trying to be the best of the  best, the brightest, the smartest, the most able, most adept–the most most of anyone you’ve ever known, and you win praise and accolades and awards and promotions and bonuses and adorations and love and…for what? Because you’re still going to sit there in the dark of the night and worry that maybe, just maybe, despite all of the hard work you did, it will all get taken away from you.

And you have to ask yourself, what are you searching for? Is it that success? Is it love? Is it validation? Is it simply proof that you are enough, as is, flaws and strengths and everything else in between?

I have always struggled with the concept of almost, but not quite. I think I fear it more that I do abject failure, honestly, because in that small space of the “what could have been,” there is an infinite amount of questioning. If you fail outright, if you are told no, if you cannot pass go and collect $200, you know that it is done. That’s all there ever could been, and it’s that much sooner that you can lick your wounds, turn around, and find another path. You can learn from your mistakes that much faster. But when it is an almost–when you’re strung along and think that maybe (whatever this is) could really be it, The One, the moment at which you finally achieve your dream, only to find out that no, now is not your time yet–it feels almost like a waste. Like you could have tried harder. Like you should have said something differently. Like you were so very close to having everything, if it weren’t for something you did to sabotage yourself somewhere along the line.

But the fact of the matter is, almost doesn’t shift the blame onto you. Almost means you’re actually on the right path–there just might be a little more work to do. Almost is an arrow in the right direction, if you can find it. And you always can. Sometimes it just takes a step back from the gleaning, the obsession, the manic fixation. Sometimes you just have to let things be.

Because sometimes, it simply isn’t your time yet. I know that’s a trite aphorism, and so much of life is equal parts timing and equal parts working very, very hard, but how much of each can you rely on? Simply, then, you work very, very hard, and when the timing is ready for you, it will let you know. But that feels like you’re leaving a lot up to chance. Which, honestly, you kind of are. But that’s how the world works sometimes. Not everything is meant to be in our control.

First, though, you have to believe you’re good enough as it is. Or you have to tell yourself, even if you don’t believe it yet. Because if you don’t, who else will?

And even if you’re not — if you’re not yet, you have to tell yourself, because eventually, you will be, in some capacity for some role or someone or some dream — then that’s fine. After all, nobody’s perfect. And getting everything right on every first try is never the case.

So fail, and fail a lot. Fail spectacularly. Fail the most anyone has ever failed before. Get so close to something and let it slip out of your grasp by millimeters, because at least that means you reached as far as you possibly could — and maybe next time, you’ll be able to stretch a little further. Maybe next time. That little maybe is called hope. And hope is what helps turn the almosts into reality.

 

 

…but here I am alive

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Do you guys remember Yellowcard? They’ve for surely been one of my top 5 favorite bands since I first heard them blaring through my car’s speakers my freshmen year of college (‘Ocean Avenue’ was and still very much is my jam!). I had many a study session, random road trip, late-night pizza party and boy trouble roommate discussion set to these guys, cementing a solid repertoire of memories I will forever hold on to.

There are some bands that just seem to speak to me, and Yellowcard is most definitely one of them. In fact, one of the reasons I love them so much is because their songs have a sneaky way of staying in my head for days weeks.  The lyrics pack a serious punch and the vocals/beats are amazing (plus they have a violinist which just makes any band that much cooler–rock on, Sean!).

I was riffling through my playlists the other night (Am I the only one who has such a huge music library, they forget what all is there sometimes?) and stumbled across a Yellowcard song called ‘Here I am Alive’. As I listened to the song, it filled me with all kinds of emotions, as any great song should.

The song starts off with the idea of writing a letter to your younger self, something I think we’ve all thought about doing at some point, or at least wondered about. I know I certainly have. What kinds of things would you tell your mini-you if you got the chance? What advice would you give, lessons you’d share, encouragement you’d offer after having been through the experiences and changes and challenges you have? The more I think about it, there’s just so much I wish I had known when I was a child, a teenager even. The thing is, we don’t know or understand those things for a reason. We’re meant to learn them with every step taken, every mistake made, every year gained.

I’d tell him you’ll get everything you’ve ever wanted, but you’ll still want more.

Can you imagine? Having everything you’ve ever wanted? Life would be pretty damn perfect.

Or would it?

I have this belief that we’re never really done chasing our dreams, no matter how far we’ve come, what we’ve achieved or have done up until this point. One of the great things about life is that everywhere we look, we are met with an endless amount of possible opportunities we have yet to experience, challenges we have yet to overcome and knowledge we have yet to obtain. It can seem overwhelming for sure, but I think that desire for more only helps to drive us all forward, keep us on our toes and add a sprinkling of excitement to our everydays.

And when they give up, ’cause they will give up, say, “Here I am alive!”

My dad taught me early on that giving up was not an option. I was five, and was the only girl on my t-ball team. I had the hand-eye coordination of a blindfolded monkey on a tightrope, I couldn’t catch a ball to save my life and to be honest, I was intimidated by my fellow teammates. During the first week of practices, I begged and pleaded my dad to let me quit the team. I think I actually cried the entirety of the first game, most of which was due to fear, but a small portion was because I hated knowing I wasn’t good at something. My dad took me by the shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You’re beautiful, you’re strong and you’re my baby girl. But you are NOT a quitter. So put your glove back on and get out there!”

Flash forward to the end of the season where I was hitting homeruns left and right, a star second basewoman and all-around lover of t-ball.  I owe so much to my dad for that simple but vital lesson he gave to me 23 years ago. To this day, anytime I think about giving up, I think back to that scared little girl on the t-ball field, how she overcame her fear, she persevered and she conquered! It’s so important to take the time to reflect on how far you’ve come. Big or small, each step forward is a step further than you were a day, week, month or even year before. It helps you to stay humble and focused on the road ahead.I’ve come a long way, but I’ve got a long way to go.

I jumped, I fell, I hit the ground, but here I am a live.

Everyone fails at something, sometimes more than once. But is failure really that awful? While it may be hard to face or accept in the moment (I’ve definitely been there), or even for a little while afterward, failure always leaves us with something to be learned or gained. It also proves that we’re taking risks and pushing ourselves. We’re taking jumps and falling, and the only way to grow is to get up and try again.

Thomas Edison put it this way: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

The messages in this song are perfect for those times when you find yourself doubting yourself, questioning the choices you’ve made or wondering where it is you’re going.  It offers wisdom beyond its years, and it’s one of my go-to songs when I need to clear my head and refocus.

It’s also the perfect song to car-karaoke to, windows rolled down and cruising down Broadway on a warm summer day.

Question of the day: What is your go-to life rock anthem?

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