I caught up with a friend last week, one who knows me better than I know myself, and just a few minutes into our conversation, she paused and noted that I sounded different. A bit off. I admitted there were a lot of things on my mind, and as I started talking through some of the larger items, I discovered a lump in my throat that was ready to enlist a full emotional and hysterical meltdown.
Somewhere between personal life navigation, professional woes, and a Stretch Armstrong-needed reach toward certain dreams, I seemed to have slipped into feelings-autopilot. While I live each day in a pretty good emotional state (my woes are your woes, and all that other self-disclosure-blogging stuff), I realized while talking to my friend that I had a few things I needed to work through.
Eventually pausing for a breath, my friend stopped me.
“Michael, welcome to the world of, ‘You can’t have it all.'”
And then cried.
She was right.
Let’s pause here for a moment.
I recently got a letter in the mail from a friend who left their job. This specific friend has had a tumultuous year, and amidst the feelings of personal unrest, they were also feeling professionally drained. After loads of self-reflection and life-examination, this friend decided to pick up their life and move on to something new.
I’m doing it.
I’m choosing myself.
I fucking matter.
All of me.”
With excitement following receiving this card, I texted my friend about how proud I was of them. However, their response was dark and heavy. They were scared and frustrated, and thoroughly overwhelmed about what existed ahead.
And I was instantly brought back to the conversation I had with my other friend the week before. Welcome to the world of, “You can’t have it all.”
In separate situations and differing points of view, I sat in silence with both friends under two different circumstances that were scarily both just the same.
You see, choosing yourself is no easy task. In fact, the antithesis of our anxiety is often opportunity itself. Much of my own anxiety comes from a strict fear of the unknown, and a lack of control that stems well-beyond any confidence or preparedness I could ever muster up. This is why I found the first conversation to be so impacting. This past year has been one where I have actually chosen myself. I regained control.
Critical decisions do that to us. Critical decisions do that for us.
And while the work continues, we are still left with questions. Concerns. Needs.
“I’m in a job I love but I have no personal life.”
“I hate my job, but my life is pretty good.”
“My boss sucks but my employees are wonderful. ”
“My job is meh, but the people embrace me as I am.”
“I hate the city I live in but the opportunity is top-tier.”
These dilemmas leave us with uncertainties. Concerns. Wants.
We trade some of our personal and professional needs/wants for things that feel good or right, and in doing so, live in a world of, “You Can’t Have It All.”
And this is absolutely okay.
Transition is happening in every fiber of our beings – merely waking up each day is drenched in transition. It’s terrifying. It’s real. It’s raw. And it’s something we have to eventually accept (or learn to accept).
I want to close this post with a short article I read a few weeks ago on Storyline. This specific article by Shauna Niequist talks about moving forward, trying something new, and change (specifically, “You’re Never Going to Be Fully Ready”). In the piece, Niequist draws a link to paddleboarding, sharing the story of a friend who wanted to try paddleboarding but needed a little help.
This specific friend was scared to go from knees to feet on the paddleboard, and continued to argue that she couldn’t start paddling until she was stable. The truth is, it’s the paddling that makes one stable – not the other way around (thanks, Niequist!).
“You’ll never stay up unless you start paddling.”
Niequist illuminates something very real in my life, and in the lives of many others. This paddleboard moment represents various ways in which we aspire to be great. This paddleboard moment reflects many of the feelings we consider around our aversion to failure. Finally, this paddleboard moment exemplifies the truth that often, it’s as easy as simply standing up. You (we) may never have it all, but we still have to stand up to move forward.
It’s time to stand up. Push yourself. Find balance, and through the scary, tough, unsure reality of trusting things outside of your own control. Cry a little. Choose yourself. Leave jobs and start adventures. Make you your own most beautiful and best #1. Believe you can be a #1. You are a #1.
Onward, my friends. September has appeared, washing us all clean of August. May you move toward something great this month.