How the f*ck did that happen?
We spend so much time and so much money on things that we *think* validate us and make our lives full; fitness classes, restaurants, manicures, blowouts, apartments, vacations… And for me, I think the fundamental difference is that somewhere along the way, I’ve confused things that give me momentary happiness with actions that make me feel alive and give my life meaning and purpose.
When I was a teenager, Coach bags were wildly popular. The big monogrammed C’s that patterned the bags were a symbol of status. Especially if you had one in high school. And of course, it seemed like everyone had one…everyone except me (eye roll). Since I was only a year or so into my very first job (and making $5.15/ hr), a $200 handbag just wasn’t within my reach. So I schemed. My dad asked if I wanted a fake one to which I replied “fuck no”. I probably said “hell no” actually. He was lenient but, come on. I scoured Macy’s sale tables, I poured over handbags at TJ MAXX, I asked for all my gift money to be given with the thought of how much the bag actually was - aka don’t just give me ten bucks because that is NOT HELPFUL. (Side note: what a shithead thing to do! If someone gave me ten bucks now I’d cry! That's 2 coffees!!) You might be wondering about my paychecks? Why didn’t I just save them up? They were for clothes. Clothes and cheese fries from the food court on my lunch break.
At Christmas, my mom bought me a black leather Coach wristlet. 15 years later, I still have it. At the time, it was a symbol of status, luxury, keeping up, and being someone worth knowing. At the time, I didn’t recognize the depth of my asking for something so pricey when my parents were newly divorced, probably more broke than I thought, and still trying to give my brother and I both the best upbringing possible.
Am I successful, or am I giving off the perception of success? Correction: Is my definition of success my own, or is it the definition I think I’m supposed to have based on the images I’m fed on a daily basis? I don’t know about you, but most of what I digest in a 24-hour period tells me I am not enough. I’m not skinny enough, pretty enough, wealthy enough, healthy enough, smart enough, white enough… this list goes on and on. The more we have a window into each others lives, the more unrealistic expectations we set up for ourselves. The more unrealistic expectations, the more fear and anxiety. Think about that for a second. Do you feel content with where you are in life right now? Or is there a gnawing feeling that something just isn’t quite right? And where’s that feeling coming from?
Let me say this - and I think it’s the most important sentence in this entire post so I’m going to scream at you: IF YOU ARE LIVING A LIFE THAT IS NOT OF SERVICE TO SOMETHING GREATER, YOU WILL NEVER HAVE PEACE, JOY, OR TRUE SUCCESS.
Read that again. If you are living out of fear or scarcity, you’re not living out of love, and you’re definitely not sending out an empowering message to others. I can say this because guys- this is me! I mean, it is and it isn’t. It’s me when I’m caught up in bullshit and spending too much time in comparison, fear, and expectations. And it isn’t me when I take a step back, find a quiet space, and reflect on what’s working in my life and what is not.
I usually start to feel “off” when my expectations do not align with my reality. Fear, not living up to expectations, anxiety and worry… I’d say there are two contributing culprits:
1. I’m so focused on making sure the future is better than the present that I’m almost rushing to properly set up my future without even acknowledging the present. The problem is that there are real-time situations happening RIGHT NOW in the present that will INFLUENCE the FUTURE. (I’m yelling at myself, not you) And if I’m not paying attention to the signs that God, the universe, my intuition are giving me, I’ll be preparing for a future that’s kinda false. Feel me?
2. The closer I am to my truth, the more scared I feel because it requires more effort and more change to accomplish my goals. It requires letting go of people from my life, it requires being more careful and respectful of my time, and it requires me to change the story I’ve been telling myself for years - I don’t have to be like everyone else. I am enough just as I am.
Giving up what I think I need is really friggin’ hard.
This is my moment to set the intention, slow down, and drop the expectations for myself and those around me. Also, maybe I need to revisit my definition of success because I thought I was already living it, but my thoughts tell me otherwise.
Fear will always be present. So will anxiety, an aversion to pain, failure, and embarrassment, as well as the life- sucking black hole that is social media/ society. But guess what else will always be present… Courage. Take the leap.