On Owning It

Life is like riding a bike.

Sometimes you have to pedal with all of the might you can muster, making your way inch by terrible inch up that long hill. And other times you can coast down with no resistance beneath your tires and the wind whipping gloriously through your hair.

If I picture life as a person, I see it as a jokester. You know the type; one of those people who thinks that super inappropriate things are really funny and who laughs at funerals. Life never takes itself too seriously. It likes to present a wide variety of situations in many unexpected forms just to make sure you really are on your toes at all times. It has an affinity for showing up in ways you could have never anticipated, will pound its fists on your front door at three in the morning just for a laugh, and it loves to pitch you curve balls to test your willingness and ability to knock them out of the park. Life has a grand ole time making sure that the only thing you can expect for certain is that things will turn out differently than you planned.

Recently, I was asked a pointed question that has kept me thinking.

How do think you react to adversity?

Great question.

I like to think that I take adversity in stride. I’d like to say that I handle all things with as much grace as I can possibly mobilize on short notice. I like to think that I do the best that I can while I keep a smile on my face and my heart full of compassion. I like to think that my experiences have taught me to be a strong and resilient person, capable of triumphing over anything that comes my way. I have overcome a lot, just like each and every one of you, and I intend to keep on doing just that.

But let me tell you that when life throws everything its got at me, one curve ball after another pummeling straight at me without pause, my reaction to adversity isn’t as pretty as I would like it to be. I’ve found that I move into silence rather than speaking my truth and that I falter in my faith rather than being able to turn it all over and trust in His plan for me. My positivitiy tanks.

I doubt myself. I wonder what I am doing wrong. I struggle with feeling wrong-sized and get angry when none of it seems to be working. Am I too sensitive? Am I unapproachable?

I switch tactics. Read more books. Reach out to others for help. I milk my support system for all its worth. Believe me, keeping me strong and centered and sane takes a village.

I am consistently revamping my strategy to figure out what the best fit is. I am constantly re-energizing in order to gain momentum for the next movement, looking to level-up and press forward. This doesn’t work, so let’s change it. That didn’t work, again, so let’s try this instead. Fail. Fail. Try again.

Do you know what all of the negative, uncomfortable and challenging feelings and experiences mean?

They mean that I am human. In progress. Developing. Learning. Achieving. Reaching. Trying.

I’m dealing with people, places and things that are not on my terms and that do not conform to my comfort zone. I’m like Silly Putty in the softening process; the part where you throw it around in your hands to make it pliable enough to mold into something entirely new.

I don’t like to think that I need molding. I don’t like to admit that I have areas I should work on. Who loves to pick themselves apart and acknowledge their faults? No person I know. But the sooner I get over with the pummeling, the faster I become ready to change my form. When I am warmed up and ready for a new shape, it means I am completely willing. It means both my mind and my heart are open to new ideas and new opportunities.

Let’s face it. Sometimes life beats the crap out of us.

We can either let it shatter us, or take it as a not-so-subtle hint from the universe that things are changing. Discomfort and pain are two of the greatest motivators for change, and change is always good.

I repeat. Change is always good.

Change forces us into action. Change improves us. Change intimidates us, seems impossible and then it teaches us that everything will be okay in the end. Always. Change shows us that the unexpected can lead to glorious results. Change terrifies us and then it chides us, whispering that we should have trusted the process the entire time.

So however you react to adversity, own it. Own it in its glorious imperfection and simultaneous badassery. You’re getting your tail licked and still asking for more. You’re waking up each day and focusing on the good. You’re giving it your best shot. Embrace everything and don’t get too caught up in the details. After all, it will work out just as it’s meant to in whatever amount of time it takes.

Own your abilities, inabilities, sensitivities, strengths, shortcomings, and greatness. Own your life.

Here’s to writing your legacy.Β 

xoxo

Sarah

The Power of Possibility

Driving is my me time. I blast the music and let my mind roam, turning over each and every thought that flutters into it. Rather than trying to quiet the incessant chatter that goes on in the back of my brain throughout the day, my commute to and from work is where I let it all go. I indulge in the inner monologue of my random thoughts, see where they go, and let them play themselves out.

On one such drive home a couple of days ago, I found myself getting caught up in a tornado of chaotic thinking. While there had been calm and peace of mind when leaving the office a few minutes earlier, suddenly I was worried about everything. I was thinking in extremes, blowing things way out of proportion, and I suddenly felt like life was completely out of my control.

Have you ever experienced something like that? A veritable freak-out on as simple a thing as a drive home from work?

At that very moment, when it felt as though things were just so entirely unmanageable, a light bulb went on. It was like a thousand tiny jigsaw puzzle pieces fell into place, forming a complete picture, and I realized that what I was experiencing was completely my own doing.

If I made it, I can stop it.

In that moment, I realized I was giving up all of my power to fear. I was turning my energy over to this fear that I am running out of time- that I am too late in beginning what I’ve started becoming. But, how can I be too late when I only just realized what I want?

Ambition is a tricky thing. It is absolutely necessary in order to achieve success, but it breeds discontent. The cost that I pay for my own ambition is that I am never quite happy with what I have. I work really hard to get to where I want to be, and then instead of celebrating once I get there, I immediately focus on the next step. In the same moment that I accomplish something, I move on from it. To the next goal. To the next big thing.

I am content to be discontent, because in the past that is how I’ve functioned best. Knowing there is something more out there for me to achieve, something resting just outside of my current reach, is how I’ve motivated myself. This is how I’ve challenged myself, how I’ve picked myself up after I’ve fallen, and how I’ve focused my drive.

This strategy presents two major problems. First- in not celebrating my successes I marginalize my achievements. In doing so, I feed into this idea that who I am, all of me at this very moment, is somehow not enough.

Second- I create an overwhelming fear that no matter how hard I work, no matter how much effort I put into creating the changes I want to see in my life, I will never achieve the things I dream of.

Our twenties are an incredibly important phase in our lives. These are the years for us to invest in ourselves, discover our passions, and make major life decisions. The choices that we are making as twenty-somethings will directly affect our future. The options of where we may go are unlimited, the world really is our oyster, but ultimately we must choose what we want and where we want to go.

To summarize: life at this moment consists of an unlimited number of choices that, once made, will shape me into who I am destined to become.

Could there be anything more intimidating?

All that possibility excites me, and it also terrifies me. It makes me want to be better and to do better. I want to make all the right choices, and I want to make them all right now. I have never felt so full of potential, and simultaneously so afraid that I will not live up to it.

That fear will be my undoing. That fear is what will, single-handedly, keep me from achieving all that I am capable of. It will tell me that I am not smart enough, not skilled enough, not creative enough, simply not enough, to do what I want to do. That fear is what will keep me from promotions, from taking necessary risks, and from achieving greatness. It will keep me firmly rooted in my comfort zone.

At its core, my fear is that I will be discovered for what I truly am or called out as a fake. I am scared that I think I am capable of more than I truly am- that I should be more realistic about my limitations. I am terrified of failing, or even worse, never being given the chance to fail at something great because no one deems me worthy of being given the chance to try.

This fear comes from an old story. It is rooted in a past me, a me that no longer exists, a me that I have worked hard to say goodbye to. At twenty-something, at thirty-something, at any-something, we all are capable of overcoming our limitations. We can challenge our fears, change our stories, and become our best selves.

We only need one yes out of a million no’s, only one door to open after running face first into a thousand closed ones, or only one little stroke of luck to fall our way to transform everything.

I need to do less worrying about the small things, and more celebrating. I need to make an effort to recognize my accomplishments, rather than minimalizing them. It minimalizing the achievements, I minimalize myself. I am striving to accept myself, all of me at this very moment, as being enough. I am making an active effort to stop feeding the chaos tornado in my head, and embracing the power of choice. Everything is a choice- it is up to us as to which direction we want to go with it.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be neat and tidy. It certainly won’t be perfect. But, there isn’t time for doubt. There isn’t time to waste our emotions, our potential, our lives on worrying about failing and making the wrong choices. You have to follow your passions, chase your happiness, and embrace the life you are creating.

I am, and will always be, a work in progress. Which is pretty perfect, because I like a challenge.

xoxo

Sarah

Ambition, Hustling, and Finding Purpose

Success

One of the most powerful things we can do is to decide what we want. To do this, we must get to know ourselves. What makes us tick? What fulfills us? What do we want our lives to look like in five, ten, or twenty years?

We must take a stand in our beliefs, choose our path, own our choices, and then pray that it all works out as beautifully as we hope it will. Find our purpose and follow it- without fear, regret, or hesitation.

Here is what I know about my purpose: the peak moment of my life will not be the day that I walk down the aisle. My marriage will not define me, and it will not be the bar by which I measure my happiness. Do not get me wrong- that day, when it comes, will be one of earth-shattering happiness. But the most significant moment of my life will not be captured in my wedding photos.

The achievements which will define me, those that will mark the most significant moments of my lifetime, will not be contingent upon my relationship status.

Secure my dream job. Publish my first book. Work with other women; empower them and inspire them. Walk with a self-knowledge, a confidence, and a grace learned through life experiences that have challenged me and strengthened me. Help to make the world a better place. These are what I imagine, and dearly hope, some of my most significant achievements will be.

There will be other moments too. Miracles which I haven’t even begun to consider, dream of, or factor into my schedule. These moments will take my breath away with surprise, and happiness. Some of the most monumental and special things in life are those that you never spot coming.

I am not the woman whose future revolves around planning a family or worrying about her ticking biological clock. It is true that I am in my late twenties, unattached, and want children someday, but today those are merely considerations. They do not give me pause. I am a woman who places greater importance on professional ambition than husband hunting. You see, I want to be truly and wildly authentic in anything and everything that I do, and I want to give all of myself to my work and to my daydreams.

To be honest, I am way too busy hustling. I am too preoccupied with making my dreams into a realityΒ to worry about those things that I, confidently, believe will come into my life at the exact moment they are supposed to. And not a second before.

I spend the majority of any free time I have obsessing over work or writing. Any extra head space immediately gravitates towards pushing myself to achieve my goals- and then when I meet them I am spinning up new ones. I can never sit idly, it must be a constant progression. A new day, a new idea, a new dream, and a new to-do list to help get me to where I am going.

Try. Fail. Try again. Fail again. Try some more. Succeed. Repeat the process.

Do I experience doubt about my choices? Absolutely. I worry that I perhaps I should be more concerned about the lack of a husband or a boyfriend or my aging eggs. I hold immense respect for those women who are my age and already have established a family. Stay at home moms are incredible, and I think they have one of the toughest jobs imaginable. I applaud them and all that they do for their families. I know, without a doubt, that I could not do what they do.

However…engagement rings, wedding bells and babies? They don’t get my blood pumping. Career advancement, networking and writing? Now you have my attention. I am not saying I don’t sometimes fantasize about the ring, the dress, and the children. I do. But these things don’t ignite a fire within me, and they are not my passion. I am not chasing them fervently like I am chasing my career ambitions.

Should I have a daughter someday, I want her to be capable of putting herself first, fiercely and unapologetically. I want her to find her happiness in whatever capacity she chooses, with the freedom to chase her purpose in life without doubt. I want her to understand that choosing career over family, or vice versa, does not make her cold, power hungry, or self-seeking. Her dreams will be her own, to be realized without judgement.Β 

If I cannot show her this behavior through my own actions, how could I ever hope that she would be able to carry it out for herself?

I am twenty-seven and just getting started. I am just beginning to develop and realize my own purpose. I have a lot of life to live, a lot of lessons to learn, and much to discover in the process. I am making the best choices I can for myself and embracing these decisions wholeheartedly, and I cannot wait to see where it all takes me.

If you would like to learn a little bit more about me, my choice in career, and what makes me tick, you can read my guest post on 20Somethings Blog here.

Β xoxo

Sarah