In 2012 I was fortunate enough to get sober. I had gone to jail twice, basically laughed in the face of every amazing opportunity that was ever presented to me, and done nothing to truly prepare for my future.
When the crushing weight of reality could no longer be held off, I was left with two choices.
Choice 1: This is it. This was the life I would lead for the rest of my existence. I would keep the job that I currently had in retail and continue my climb up the ladder to store manager where I would inevitably hit my ceiling working every holiday, being paid adequately with good benefits, but never exploring my potential. I would slink by, shoulders hunched over under the weight of the shame of how much potential I had once shown only to seemingly not take a single step toward fulfilling it.
Choice 2: Clean the Slate. Literally any choice I made to change my stars (A Knight’s Tale) could only be a positive step. Life had grown so bleak that a small step in any direction off of my current path would almost certainly lead to something more worth my time. In a weird, way, pissing it all a way allowed me to give myself permission to dream again. The past was certainly not clean, but it might as well have been because I was no longer going to be defined by it.*
You see, getting sober pitted me against the norm in many ways. Naturally none of my friends (at that time) felt I needed to get sober. And, naturally, nobody outside of Alcoholics Anonymous thought that what I was really exploring went much, much deeper than whether or not I enjoyed aggressive drinking. And it was not until then that I discovered that where society puts us is not necessary where we are meant to be.
Now you. My hope for you is that you are not as stubborn as I was. That maybe you could use my pain to avoid some of your own. Understand that no matter where you sit in this very moment, you must start dreaming again. You must begin to believe that you are capable of whatever you want because you are.
And what’s more, I want nothing more than for you to know that even once you begin to allow yourself access to this hope, you will not be good at it. You will try to tear yourself down from time to time at first. And then, once you graduate from self-sabotage, you will then absolutely run into resistance among your friends and family.
Your husband will not be happy that the food is changing around the house. Your mother will not be happy you are no longer calling her to gossip. Your friends will not be happy you are spending more time at the gym or out with your new gym-friends. Your coworkers will definitely not be happy you no longer sprint to the break room when that box of donuts hits the table.
In these moments, take a moment to assess. Are these people living the lives you hope to lead? If the answer is “probably not” then this is your fuel. Because the choices they are making daily are only reinforcing their mediocrity. And their decision to attempt to hold you down is simply evidence that you are making meaningful changes. Society is homogenous and that means it wants everything to stay as it is. And that includes you. So when you begin to rock the boat with your changes, the response will not be applause (at first).
Ok, ok, ok. Back to the point. This negativity and lack of support is what has worn your ability to dream down to dust. When I ask many of you what you’d like your future to hold, your answer is about as creative as the kid in class who is too cool to put any effort in. The problem is that THIS IS YOUR ONE LIFE AND IT IS MOVING PRETTY FAST WHICH MEANS EVERY DAY THAT MOVES BY WAS ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO BE WHO YOU DESERVE TO BE.
Buy a journal.
Everyday, write down all of your dumb ideas for your life.
Why dumb ideas? Because if I say good ideas, you’ll have 0 ideas. Because you are a dick to yourself.
And then what happens?
Your ideas begin to really take shape. And then, one day, they are not so dumb. They are motivating. They are exhilarating. They are what you need to begin to lead the life you are capable of.
Be the person your kids deserve. Your employees deserve. Your partner deserves.
But most importantly of all, be the person that you deserve because you are amazing and it is not your fault that you are where you are at. But it is absolutely your fault if you do not make the effort to take advantage of this opportunity to be truly you.