Today I Will Take My Coffee With A Shot of Cojones.
Does that title sound as gross as I think it sounds?
Good. Then I have your attention.
Some of us have a time in our lives when we have to take a stand. When we have to say, from the gut of our gut (because just our gut isn’t enough), and with as much confidence as we can muster (which usually isn’t nearly sufficient), “I may not know exactly what I’m doing, but I know it has to be done.”
And some of us have to do it twice.
God help us.
But since God (or whatever superior being to whom you might occasionally make a plea for help) likely has more important things to do, like end world hunger or help Tebow win a football game, we’re usually pretty much on our own.
And that can be a pretty hard thing to do. It’s a tough call — to go against the grain of you feel you should do, and instead choose what you want to do.
The super enlightened among us might call this “living our truth.”
I call it “throwing out the shoulds.” It’s less mystical sounding, and a little more self-explanatory.
After all, if you’re unhappy, it’s likely the shoulds that got you into this mess. You should go to college right after high school. You should land a stable job and start a retirement fund and have medical coverage. You should buy a car. You should buy a house. You should water your lawn and wear nice clothes and attend company holiday parties and smile, because you just got a promotion which pretty much guarantees that you now get to spend even more time each day in this place that’s not so bad, but it’s not, somehow, where you know you’re supposed to be. It’s not. But you feel stuck because you should be happy. You have all of these things, and everyone else who has these things is happy, right? And if you change, you might lose these things.
So you should stay.
And you should learn to love it.
And you should spend the rest of your days trying to hypnotize yourself into this trance known as the American Dream that seems to come so easily for everyone else.
And that, my friend, is how you waste years. How you brush them into the dust pan, one by one, and throw them out with the trash. Because if you really feel this way (and believe me I feel you if you do), it’s not just going to magically get better. Because if you’re not happy, you’re missing the things you already have in your life that are wonderful. You know you should love these things, but you can’t. It’s like you’re not even present. You’re watching your life through a telephoto lens, and you never really even experience it.
I didn’t intend to get all deep and philosophical on you this morning. But I’m going to assume you needed to hear it, because I needed to type it. What I actually intended to tell you is that I need to do it again. I need to make the difficult choice. And while I know, in my gut of guts that the choice is already made, sometimes a pep talk is necessary to do the deed.
You see, if you’re fairly new here, you might not know that I quit my job back in August 2010 in order to go make hot sauce in Costa Rica for a couple of months. I had intended it as a jumping-off point — a type of cold turkey shock therapy to push myself into figuring out what, exactly, it was that would make me happy. The plan was ill-conceived, at best, and when I returned home my depression was at its peak. (I know, lucky Justin.) Instead of focusing on building a writing career, I let people should all over me. I had no job. My marriage was in a state of limbo. My self-esteem was lying somewhere along the side of that lonely stretch of road that took me to that lowest point in my life, and I just didn’t even know where to begin. So, by August 2011, I took a part-time job as a real estate assistant. The job market was horrendous, and, if you want to know the truth, that is the only interview I could get. Even though I’ve had some baby-step success at getting my foot in the writing door, I lacked gumption. And now, here I am, nearly a year-and-a-half after the epic quitting event of 2010, and I’m scarily close to where I first started.
My backyard view in Costa Rica.
And now, I find it’s time to make another choice.
On New Year’s Eve, my boss sent me an email. A very nice email. A complimentary email, on how he appreciates my hard work and dedication to the team. And he extended me an offer. A very nice offer. An offer to work for his company full-time, to become an integral part of the team, and to devote myself to this career path. To his career path.
The money would not come close to what I was making in 2010, but it would be better than where I’m at now. The job is more stimulating than where I was back then, but I still know that it’s not where I’m supposed to be. At least, not full-time. Because, if I choose that path, I know I won’t dedicate the ambition I need to fulfill my goals this year. It feels wrong, so wrong, to turn it down. And yet. If I accept, it will mean I’ve learned nothing in the past year-and-a-half. That it was a waste. That I’m destined to make the same mistakes over and over again. Turning down an opportunity that would put us in a better financial state feels wrong because that’s how we’re trained to feel. But, if I remember how I really felt in August 2010, I remember very clearly that money was not the issue. Not even close. So, I’m going to politely decline his generous offer, as soon as we’re done here. And hope I’m not making a huge, huge mistake.
Something tells me I might need something a little stronger than coffee this morning.
But you know, so far, all I can figure is that we need to make a series of difficult choices to start taking back control of these limited and precious lives that we have — choices that feel right, even if they don’t look right.
Obviously, I can’t tell you if this is really the way because I’m not there yet myself.
You can be sure I’ll let you know how it turns out.