This could be true for many people who feel as though there’s something more out there for them to do, something that doesn’t necessarily fit into the typical scripted societal progression that is widely accepted as the norm: Grow Up. Obtain Degree. Find Job. Get Married. Buy House. Have Kids.
Let me start off by stating that there is absolutely nothing wrong about the above. I’m not here to judge people for their life choices because it’s impossible to label them as “right” or “wrong” because I’m viewing them through my own subjective lens (I’m generalizing here and discounting those extreme choices that call into play morality and ethics). My point is, I think we all have a tiny little spark inside of us that is completely unique, completely ours, and if nurtured, can turn into a roaring fire.
I put a little fuel onto my spark recently when I decided to leave a perfectly fine, well paying job with fairly good stability of my own volition. From the surface, from an outsider’s view, it may have looked as though I was on a pretty good path. My position had a lot of responsibility and autonomy; I had to make some serious decisions and I had a stake in a lot of critical projects. We’re judged by the highlight reel of our life; no one can truly know all of the hidden struggles, fears, doubts, and tears that are kept secret, deep inside the vault known as our heart.
So even though it may have looked fine from the outside, deep inside I knew I wasn’t in the right place. The role itself wasn’t a good match; incompatibility exists not only in the world of personal relationships. I was lucky enough to recognize and accept this incompatibility early enough that it didn’t start to have serious negative effects on my work. It was a difficult pill to swallow to admit, “I am not good at my job.”
“I am not good at my job” doesn’t mean that I’m generally incompetent. It just meant that I was not good at that particular job, as my skill-set and my strengths were not correctly matched with the role’s expectations. I could no longer play the “fake it til you make it” game because I would lose, no matter what I did.
I left to nurture my tiny little spark, my own very special and unique desire that had been trying to get my attention for the better part of a few years. The timing was both good and bad; good because it freed me up to take a certificate program over the summer, but bad because of the uncertainty in the economy and its subsequent effect on the job market. Not to mention the always looming possibility that my husband could be laid off from his Oil & Gas job.
But we forged ahead. We discussed the risks and we discussed what needed to happen to make it work. Am I fortunate to have a supportive partner with a good job? Absolutely. I know it’s a blessing. If the tables were turned, I would do the same thing for him. It’s an equal partnership; we recognize that there may yet be a time when I need to take up the mantle so that he can pursue his own special endeavors. I would do it in a heartbeat, no matter what it took, no matter the sacrifices I’d have to make.
People mean well and people aren’t necessarily malicious on purpose. But some of them make remarks with quite a sharp edge if you read deeper into them. Remarks that embed themselves like splinters in my heart, quietly reminding me of the pain of those words.
Sometimes those words are my own. That demon deep inside, the darkness that I’m still learning to live with. Sometimes that demon says words like these:
You look like you’re going to spend your life having one epiphany after another, always thinking you’ve finally figured out what’s holding you back, and how you can finally be productive and creative and turn your life around.
But nothing will ever change. That cycle of mediocrity isn’t due to some obstacle. It’s who you are.
The thing standing in the way of your dreams… is that the person having them is you.
It cuts deep. Leaves a big, ugly scar, and it reminds me of all my failures and shortcomings. Reminds me that I’m still just a scared, vulnerable flesh & blood human, not some powerful, fearless superhero.
On bad days, those words repeat over and over and over.
But on good days, on okay days – which is most days – I tell that demon to go eff itself because I’m still stoking the fire inside and it’s burning brightly and growing bigger each day.
And anyone else who tries to embed their bad words, bad thoughts, and their own insecurities can go eff themselves too.
I will continue to have bad days. That’s simply the reality. But I know – I believe – that the thing standing in the way of my dreams isn’t me. The thing standing in the way of my dreams is other people and their own fears. It’s societal expectations. It’s circumstances that I have no control over and therefore should not even spend a second worrying about.
The thing standing in the way of your dreams… you can conquer it.
*the above excerpt was taken from this xkcd comic