In a world riddled with instant gratification, surrogacy, and the many facades of social media; it is easy to fall victim to Society.
As cliché as it is, technology at everyone’s fingertips really has taken a Louisville Slugger to traditional values we once cherished. Things that we are biologically predisposed to yearn for are frowned upon at best. We seek mass approval of a manufactured profile of ourselves from total strangers. Humanity is being replaced with automation.
I have faced, and continue to face, my own personal challenges and struggles. No two people experience the same thing (except Pitbull, he gets it). Everyone has a unique set of obstacles; and, more importantly, everyone has a unique way of overcoming them.
In an era of automation and subsequent conformation, we neglect individuality. We turn our backs on not only what makes everyone special and ‘valuable’, but what makes everyone successful in their own right.
Personally, I routinely fell victim to expectations; often at my own hand. When others think they understand you—your likes, your goals, your strengths—they expect you to fall in line with what they perceive.
This isn’t a ‘poor me’ moment—of course you do not have to let those expectations define you. But it is easy to.
It’s easy to keep traipsing down the path people assume you will. It’s easy to complete tasks well within your skill set.
In my case, I would raise the bar high for myself…and fall short of it. More often than not, intentionally. Call it self sabotage if you will. I prefer to take it as my mind begging itself to help.
“Life’s not fair. You have to do things you don’t want to sometimes.” – Things I Hear All Too Often
Those are two of my least favorite sayings people regurgitate to help themselves cope with their own unhappiness.
The truth is, we used to be happier. Society was once filled with traditionalism, individuality, and passion. You are supposed to find something you really enjoy, something that makes you happy and pursue it.
Will it be your ideal job? Your dream scenario? Will it be easy? Probably not, at least not off the bat.
One saying I do believe in: do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life.
Nowadays that mantra is scoffed at. This was once considered a tenet of a far happier and healthier time. Maybe we should stop taking for granted the basic principles of a time we long for. Maybe we should crawl before we walk, nonetheless run.
For a long time I did what people wanted me to do; expected me to do; assumed I would do. I spent time with the people, wore the attire, and attended the events I was ‘supposed to’. I did what benefited others, because it made them smile; even if it was at the expense of my personal happiness.
None of that is a good thing. None of that is a noble thing. I learned the hard way that, sometimes, you have to put yourself first. In relationships, in friendships, in business. Putting yourself first is what is best for you, and those around you. How can you expect others around you to be happy if you are not? You cannot give your whole self to people and projects if you are not whole. Most importantly, you need to smile with others—not give your smile away to others.
There is only so much something can bend before it breaks.
People I considered close friends started and propagated abhorrent and false rumors about me; and continued to do so after I told them it was all false. (I was in turn told I had the wrong information, despite the information being about me.) I would have once taken a bullet for people I am no longer on speaking terms with. The people I considered a necessity, consider me a convenience.
We have all met people in our lives like this: who will tear us down for their benefit without batting an eye. The assholes who will intentionally throw a red sock in a load of white laundry.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
There are people who will help you, who will be a real friend to you. People who will help you just when you need it, and least expect it—and often they won’t even know the positive impact they truly have on you.
On that note, I would like to thank some people I have met in the last year that have changed my life for the better; who pulled me out from one of my darkest places without even knowing what they were doing. I promise you, there are these people in your life. You just have to let them in. Vulnerability is scary, especially when so many have used and abused it after you opened up to them. But, hey; no pain, no gain.
Thank you to the people who are there, unconditionally. Those I do not have to talk to every day, or even every month. But are always only a phone call away. The people that don’t require plans to be made far in advance, and include full itineraries. The spontaneous, fun-loving people who never fail to bring a smile to my face. I knew when I met you that I wanted you in my life; and I’m glad you stayed.
Thank you to those who reminded me that riding horses is supposed to be fun; that just because it isn’t my career it cannot still be my passion. If you know me, you know I love my horse Ducky more than anything in the world. But it was difficult for me to go to the barn for a long time. Even though I loved seeing him, trips to the barn became a chore. I felt like I didn’t belong in the sport, like I was not welcome in the very thing that I have loved since I was a little girl. But just because my horse and I are a little different, because we don’t conform to a traditional sect of the sport does not mean we do not belong. It does not mean we cannot enjoy it, enjoy each other, and grow in our abilities. Losing hope in something that defines you is a scary place to be when you do not see a way out. I owe everything to those who restored my confidence in riding.
Thank you to the guys who made me fall in love with music again. I always liked music, but convinced myself it was out of reach. Last year, I saw one of my favorite artists in concert for the first time. Less than a year later, I went to basically the same show and was backstage. I used to be horrified to sing in public—I mean, I would freeze. Even during group karaoke with ten other people on the mic I would barely sing. Yet here I was, having a post-concert jam session with the bands on my Spotify Wrapped most-listened-to list. These guys, and others, gave me the confidence to start writing music again. They showed me that camaraderie and ‘doing what you love’ is alive and well. As I mentioned, being in politics introduced me to a lot of terrible individuals. But I was fortunate enough to stumble across this group who changed my life. They found me at a time when I was facing some especially difficult challenges and helped me navigate the trying times. They restored my faith that there are genuine people and taught me it was okay to trust others, that not everyone has bad intentions or a secondary motive. These guys reminded me what it was like to live in the moment, to be thankful for today—to just be happy.
Last, but certainly not least: thank you to the people that broke me. The ‘close friends’ who stabbed me in the back…and the front. The people who slandered and defamed me. The reasons for my sleepless nights, difficulty trusting, and insecurities. Those who made me want to quit, turn around, give up, and throw in the towel. My foes who sought to hurt me; and my friends who dropped me when I needed them. The people who pried and prodded until I opened up, only to just disappear without a trace soon thereafter. Those who used me, traded me like a bargaining chip, and tossed me aside when they no longer needed me. And those who came back when I was once again ‘relevant’ in their eyes. Without these people to bring me down to the lowest points of my life; I would not be on the path I am now. I would not have met the people who saved me if I hadn’t been discouraged from the course I was on. I would not have stepped out of my comfort zone and into my own skin.
Moral of the story: there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And there’s probably another tunnel and some missing railroad ties, too; but there will always be a light. There will always be a reason to keep your head up and push on. Sometimes that means throwing the playbook out the window and starting from scratch. Sometimes that means going against what every single person has ever expected of you, what you have always expected of yourself.
Challenge yourself. Don’t cause yourself challenges.