Who Do You Want to Be?

It’s been almost a month since I revealed on the blog that I was no longer employed and planned to spend some time exploring my passions to see where they might lead.  This post was met with wild acclaim and people were inspired by my bravery.

That was cool.

It also put some pressure on me to continue to be inspirational and brave.  Please be aware that I am not inspirational and brave on most days.  Less than a week after I wrote that post about exploring my passions, I came VERY close to moving back in the direction of just taking a job to pay the bills.

I got nervous about completely relying on my savings and the stock market to survive.  I got sad about not renewing my expensive Pilates reformer membership. I panicked about moving forward with my apartment remodel now that I have no income.  I ended up on an email list that was reminding me daily how much work it is to be a freelancer.  I told a friend I would help her with her website and then realized I knew nothing about Word Press page builders. (I didn’t even know they existed.)  I got in my head about how crazy it was to learn new things and try to make a living doing those new things so late in my life when so many other people already know how to do those things and are so far ahead of me.  I started questioning whether I really wanted to do those things. I wasn’t feeling passionate about anything. I was spiraling.

I did what I often do when I am spiraling. I Googled.

“How do you know if you are afraid or if you really just don’t want to do something?”  This is not the first time I have asked the internet this question but apparently whatever answers I found in the past had escaped my mind. Serendipitously, I got some amazing and helpful responses this time.

The first one came from a Hypnotherapist on Quora

Genuinely not wanting to do something means you have experienced it, it made you realize “well, this is or isn’t for me,” and you understand what that experience felt like. If it didn’t make you feel good, then you choose not to do it because you don’t want to feel that way again.

Scared is just fear of the unknown…. Until you experience something, you honestly have no idea how that experience will affect you. So to keep you from doing it and stay feeling ‘safe’, you create scenarios in your mind to validate your fear instead of taking action on the opportunity. This is why we cling to the worst-case scenario (instead of the million other, mostly good, possible outcomes) so we can validate our own fear and not feel accountable for experiencing these new feelings and exploring new opportunities for ourselves.

I like to say the courage you use to leave the thoughts and circumstances that no longer serve you, become the confidence needed to embrace a new beginning.

Thank you, Kristen McPike, the hypnotherapist on Quora, for these wise words that Google presented to me exactly when I needed them and reminded me that I can’t give up before I try!!! (And she has a very nice website if you are in the market for a hypnotherapist or a courage themed coffee mug.)

I didn’t stop there.  After watching a Marie Forleo video on Fear vs Intuition, You Tube presented me with a Ted Talk about Hard Choices, by Ruth Chang, a philosophy professor at Oxford.

Ruth explains that hard choices are hard because there is no clear best choice.  If it were obvious that you should do A over B, you would just do A and it wouldn’t be a hard choice.  She sees hard choices as opportunities for us to use our agency to decide WHO we want to be. Instead of looking for external reasons to validate our choices, we should look inside ourselves and become the authors of our own lives. In her words, “hard choices are precious opportunities for us to celebrate the power to become the distinctive people that we are.”

She really got me when she talked about drifters.

“People who don’t exercise normative powers in hard choices are drifters. Drifters allow the world to write the story of their lives. They let mechanisms of reward and punishment, pats on the head, fear, the easiness of an option to determine what they do.”

Whaaat!! How are so many random women on the internet looking into my soul??? (Sometimes internet algorithms are working for our benefit!)

So I asked myself…..”Do I want to be the person who drifts back to a safe job where she does not have to do hard things and is not worried about money or do I want to be the person who puts in the effort to figure out what will make her happy and build a life around things she enjoys doing (but might have to make some sacrifices along the way)?”

These inspirational words reminded me that I don’t want to drift anymore and saved me from running back to safety before I explored new possibilities.  I may decide that I want to take an easy job that pays the bills as part of my future life, but I have to make sure something else won’t make me happier first!

Once I was back on track, I continued on with my explorations and spent three weeks learning a Word Press page builder and helped my friend (and former spiritual life coach) upgrade the look and feel of her website!  I was definitely in a flow while I was working on the site (which is a good sign that I might like to do more of this) and learned a lot about color wheels, font combinations, image editing, and responsive design.  (A lot has has changed since I learned HTML in the 1990s!!) There were moments of doubt when I looked at beautiful sites made by professional designers and moments when I looked at not so great sites and knew I could do better.  Most importantly, I enjoyed figuring it all out!  My friend Kelli is officially re-launching her site soon but you can get a sneak peak here.  I went from having no idea what I was doing, to creating something she and I were both pretty happy with!

After wrapping that up, I had grand plans to write this blog post and shift my focus back to astrology projects for a bit (the planets are calling me), but instead I spent most of this week reading news, scrolling through social media, and binge watching Tell Me Your Secrets on Amazon Prime (so good)!  It’s hard to be an unemployed person with lots of interests who wants to keep up with what is going on in the world and also sometimes doesn’t want to do anything and is often anxious about one thing or another.  I am pretty sure I make it much harder than in needs to be (and I am probably not the only one who does. Who’s with me?)

What finally got me to re-focus and get some writing done was that question Ruth Chang inspired me to ask……“Who do I want to be”?

Do I want to be the person who consumes useless information on Twitter all day? (Yesterday, I watched a movie review by Mandy Patinkin’s wife.  Something about Judi Dench and the theatre.  She loved it.  I also read every single response in a twitter feed about J&J vaccine side effects, even though I am half way through the Pfizer vaccine, and I consumed a lot of unproductive political snark.)

Or do I want to be the person who makes the most of this precious time and continues to explore and create, because who knows what is coming next???

If you are feeling stuck or unmotivated or are making a really hard choice, give it a try……Who do you want to be?

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Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash