Declaration of Love

I am worthy of love.
I am worthy of attention.
I am worthy of time and affection.

My health and happiness do not necessarily have to come second.
I am my first priority because I cannot care for others if I am sick.
I owe my health to myself and others.

It is acceptable for me to use the power within me when appropriate…
If no one is hurt…
If someone is affected negatively, cautiously.
If no one is affected, fiercely.

I will not continue to believe that hating who I am is being selfless.
Loving and accepting myself does not mean neglecting others.
By loving myself I have more love to give others; I cannot love if my heart is barren.
I will not look for others to fill my heart with love that I should be pouring into myself.
I will love myself so that I can radiate love to others.

This is the promise I make with myself.

 

Work with the Flaws

Sometimes I see the activity of understanding my ‘self’ as something akin to trying to herd cats within a painted circle on a floor. As soon as I can get a couple of felines inside the border, they promptly walk out while I’m wrangling another one.

I never stay on one idea or task for long. I rarely finish anything. (I’m quite surprised I even manged to finish my undergraduate degree.) I get bored regularly. I frequently change my mind about things (not necessarily a bad trait, but I think I do it too often and too quickly at times). I’m easily distracted by something I deem more fascinating than the current task–even if that task is something I usually enjoy. I am extremely messy and disorganized.

I’ve tried to find ways to fix this about me. I want to have an organized mind and work space. I’ve tried making deadlines for myself, writing to-do lists, scheduling times to work on certain projects. None of them seem to work for long. Maybe I just lack will power. Maybe this is a subject I should be talking to a therapist about instead of blogging about it (I’d probably get some real answers that way).

Or maybe I need to stop working against who I am and find a way to change this bad trait into a good one. I think I’ve come to realize that I need to stop fighting who I am and finding a way to make who I am work for me. My working style may not be ‘right’, but as long as it functions for me, what does it matter?

Accepting the Truth

I’ve come to realize that I have only one talent: fucking up my life.

I can’t do anything right and I make all the wrong decisions. I’ve been told by others that I’m smart, gifted, or have great untapped potential. That’s just bullshit because no matter how much I try otherwise I just fuck up everything about my life. I quit my job because I was unhappy and wanted something better. I really want to be self-employed but have no skills or knowledge that would allow that. I’m an utter fuck-up. I left a job that I was good at, that offered benefits, paid decently, and was steady work to obtain something I had no possibility of actually achieving.

Before that, I fucked up by taking that job at all. Going back to a workplace that I had gone to school to get out of. Before taking a job I should have known wasn’t going to go well, I fucked up by not preparing for entering the workforce after college. Before having poor planning skills, I fucked up by going to college, and putting myself in massive debt that I have no chance of paying back, with the idea that I could get a better job and have a better life. I should have known better; I’ve never succeeded in anything I’ve attempted to do.

I’m even a fuck up at being myself. I spend so much time worrying about how I appear to people–trying to get them to like me or trying to maintain a ‘professional’ image so they’ll respect me. The fact is that no one respects me because no one even cares about me. And I realize I’m even more of a fuck up because the fact that no one gives a shit about me is even more reason that I should stop trying to project a professional or likable image, be who I am, and not give a shit about what others think of me. But I still fuck that up over and over again. Truth is that I am a fuck up; it’s part of my personality, something I can’t change.

Being who I am means admitting who I am, so here it is: I’m a fuck up, and I’m always going to be a fuck up. I choose the wrong paths. I don’t think things through. I set goals that are impossible. I have no idea what I’m actually capable of.

I don’t want to pretend it isn’t true. There is no point in continuing to ask myself, ‘How do I stop being a fuck up?’ Instead, I’m choosing to say, ‘So I’m a fuck up. What kind of life do I want to live knowing that fact?’

Embracing the Crazy

When I first set out on this journey, I tried to make it as logical as possible. For myself as well as others. I needed to convince myself that I had good reasons to quit my job and pursue something I wasn’t sure I could accomplish. I needed to have a reason to give others that would explain why I was doing this thing that I knew most of them wouldn’t understand. I did not believe that I needed to have everyone’s approval, but I wanted my family, friends and people I respected to think well of me.

As my journey continued, I found that I could not defend my choices because some were going to find what I was doing crazy no matter what I did. I even thought what I was doing was crazy at times, and I was the one doing it. Even though I know that I can’t please everyone, I still try to please more than I should. My parents, my sisters, close friends, coworkers, people I look up to, people who’ve saw my potential when I didn’t. The list goes on. And all of them have slightly different opinions about what I’m doing. Some support what I’m doing, others support it in theory but question my methods, and some don’t support what I’m doing but accept that I have to do what is right for me. It wasn’t long before I realized that I had to make a difficult decision about what was more important to me: my dream or having others think well of me. Was I willing to do something that many, even maybe myself, thought was crazy?

I accepted the absurdity of my choice rather quickly, but I still felt I couldn’t tell others what I really wanted to do. Questions came so often, and I didn’t know how to answer them. But I knew I needed to hide my true desire. The answer became: “I’m just going to take a little time to figure it out, not rush into things.” When people would ask me what type of job I was wanting, I kept it purposely vague. It was safer that way. I couldn’t tell them the simple truth that I wasn’t looking for a job. I want to pursue my art and writing and maybe find a way through them to make enough money to sustain myself. I’m not looking to be rich; I just want the ability to live a happy life, and a traditional job won’t give me that. I’ve tried.

But now I’m accepting my madness. I can’t change people’s opinions, and there will always be those who think I’ve made the wrong choice–that this is crazy and that I am crazy for doing it. And to them I say you’re right! It is an insane decision to just decide to put all my effort into art and writing. But I’m still taking the plunge. You might want to ask yourself why it bothers you. It might lead to your own enlightenment.

Lights Along the Way

I am now beginning to realize the the reality of the leap I have taken. My last day at my job was two days ago, but since I worked a full work week, the fact that I was no longer employed did not hit me until midday yesterday. All at once, I felt the weight that I would not be returning to work the next day, and I panicked.

Fear took over, and for the rest of the day, there was a knot in my stomach. ‘What am I doing,’ I asked myself. ‘You’re going to fail. You’ve never succeeded before. How will this time be any different?’ I tried to calm myself down. I wrote down a list of things that I feared could go wrong. There were four items. I walked myself through them questioning if the fears were justified. I found that it really came down to one thing: I am scared of what I fell others will think of me if I fail.

I realize how ridiculous it would be to make decisions based on the future opinions of others. How will I be hurt if others think I’ve made the wrong choice? Do their opinions matter? I also realize that I cannot predict their opinions anyway. This is fear talking, setting up the worst case scenario in my mind. Yes, there may be a few people who will think less of me if I fail, but they are not the people who matter. They are bystanders to my life. The people who matter, who play a central role in my life, are supportive of my decision and would most likely grieve with me if I fail.

But, also, how am I defining failure? There are those who think I’ve already failed. Are they right? No. Because their measure for a successful life does not fit with my life. This is a truth that I have learned in life: each person’s life is their own, there is no ‘one-size fits all’ path to a successful life. Failure has to be defined individually. What is failure for others may be success for me. Being in a place where I do not know what will happen next is a success for me. I am facing my fears. My fears. Others’ fears will be different because they are different; they are not me. Dwelling in uncertainty if my fear, and I am succeeding. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else; it is clear to me. That is all that matters.

One thing I am grateful for is the people who are there when my faith wavers. The path ahead of me is dark; I cannot always see clearly what the next step is. I see these people as little lights along the way, illuminating just enough of the path for me to get my footing. They do this simply by reminding me that I am on the right track and that it is normal to have moments of doubt. They never tell me what I should do but remind me that I already know what to do. They point me back to my inner wisdom when I have lost touch with it.

Too often we want to tell others how they should live their lives. We should strive to be the the small light pointed others back to their inner wisdom. Instead of saying ‘Here’s what you should do…’, we should say, ‘Listen to your soul. What is it telling you to do?’

The Journey Ahead

As I continue to step forward on my journey into my unknown future, I’ve started to ponder where it is leading me. Some people find it insane that I would be tolerant of the uncertainty that lies ahead. “How can you just trust that things will work out?” They cannot think of doing anything without considering planning what the next step, or even the next twelve, will be.

I understand this. It is scary to move ahead when you can’t clearly make out where the path is leading. Is it where you want to go? Will you like where you end up? Does another path lead somewhere better? In the end, it is really about control. We want to be in control of our lives and where we end up. Making plans seems to be the best way to maintain control. If you don’t make a plan, how will you be able to get to a place you want to be; that you are happy with? The problem is that we do not take into account that plans rarely, and maybe never, go the way we think they will. Sometimes, there are small detours. Other times, there is an foreseen turn that completely unravels your plan. I have come to the realization that every time I have made plans before I never ended up where I thought I would be. I tried to follow a map of how to get where I wanted to go, but I should have just followed the path that led in the direction I wanted to go. My acceptance of  uncertainty is because I know that I’m heading the right direction. I have learned to listen to my inner self which tells me if I’m in the right place. I have tried a few things that didn’t work for me, so I know how it feels when I’m trying to fit in where I don’t belong. And I have learned that my inner voice is quiet smart if I let her speak and truly listen.

I wish I could convince more people to do this. I see so many people who are obviously trying to fit into a place they weren’t meant to be. They often accept the frustrations that come from trying to make something work that won’t as just ‘the way life is.’ But what if they stopped trying to fit themselves into a life or job they weren’t meant for and tried finding something they were more in tune with? I don’t think that for everyone that means quitting their jobs without another one lined up as I am doing. But fear is such a powerful motivator, and once you have accepted that there is no other way, the fear of failure will keep you where you are: frustrated that things are the way they are.

For me, I thought that as I got closer to the last day at my job, of losing a steady paycheck, I would become more and more anxious. The truth is that as I get closer to the end of this chapter I have become more certain that I have made the right choice. I see the possibility ahead and am excited at what could come. I know it isn’t always going to be easy–and there maybe times where I will doubt my decisions–but I know it is worth it. Not knowing where I’ll end up is thrilling. The beauty of not having a desired outcome is that I don’t have to face others’ judgement when I don’t ‘succeed.’ If I don’t know where I’m headed, and others don’t know either, there is never a risk of not making it there. Wherever I end up is where I am meant to be.

Walking Toward the Mountain

So…I quit my job. I don’t think anyone would argue it was a good job, but many seem to wonder why I would leave without another job lined up.

From coworkers to friends, I’ve been asked to explain my reasons for leaving. Several people have asked me on more than one occasion. Maybe because they do not believe I was truthful the first time, or maybe they are still confused and seek understanding. I admire the latter as I find myself to be a wanderer in search of greater understanding in my life. However, I find that most of those who give the impression of desiring to understand my decision often have a preconceived notion what my reasoning should be. They know what would make them leave their job and expect my reason to be inline with theirs. Of course, my explanation fails because they forget one key thing: I’m not them!

While I do not believe that I need to justify my decision to anyone (except those adversely impacted by my actions–who have been extremely supportive), I do think that writing out my motivations for this choice of actions will help me understand and accept that this is something I need to do. It will help me quell my fears. You see, I’ve been oscillating between being confident of my decision and being convinced I am making a horrible choice that I will soon regret. When I have moments of doubt, I start to list my reasons, and this tends to calm me down–if only temporarily. But these justifications are sometimes challenging to tie down in the midst of the tempest that is my mind. So here is a list of why I’m leaving my job:

  1. I don’t like my job. I wouldn’t say I hate my job, but it is obviously not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I work in retail and I’m sure most people working retail would say they don’t like it; you’re not suppose to like it. The things that are important in my job are things that I believe are quite trivial. This leads to another reason for leaving, so:
  2. My job conflicts with my values. I had thought for awhile that I needed to find another job, but it wasn’t until the holiday season that it became overwhelmingly clear that I could not continue to work in this place. I’ve had some problems at work with coworkers (who hasn’t unless you are self-employed), but one day I found myself incredibly frustrated. I took a moment to ask myself why I was upset; what was the cause of this precise aggravation? Every department was busy getting ready for Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. There were arguments over floor-space for displays, pressure to get things looking perfect for bigwigs who would be touring the store, and so many displays clogging up the aisles that everyday tasks became difficult to do. While stacking Christmas candy, I realized that what was bothering me, and perhaps had been an issue since I started with the company, was that I was working at a job for a company that is exacerbating what I believe is wrong with humanity. How could I work a job that feeds off the deterioration of humans? And it’s not just this particular company that is the problem; the company I work for is better than many, I’m sure, but it is still a company that is part of a corporation that values profits over people. It’s the first rule of consumerism: the most important people are your customers and you only seek to satisfy them so they’ll give you their money. And your employees? They can be replaced. Now, I don’t want to diminish the efforts of those on a local level who are trying to make things better for employees. I’ve work with some great bosses and coworkers, some who are actively trying to make conditions better for those who work there. But I don’t think they realize how futile their goal is. In the end, it’s about what is most cost effective. Corporations don’t see people they see parts of a machine. If one part is causing a problem, you fix or replace it. And the lower you are on the food chain the more cost effective it is to just replace you. To continue to work for this company would be to say I value one thing while actively doing the opposite.
  3. I need to stop running from my fears. I thought that when I finished school I would be relieved and proud of what I accomplished. What I encounter instead was panic and depression. The question everyone asked me (and I was asking myself) was: ‘So what are you going to do now?’ For five and a half years, I had, at least in part, defined myself as a student. It was my identity and I had no idea how to define myself without it. It felt like I had woken up to one of my arms missing. How will I live like this? It had been pretty easy to talk about what I would do after graduation when I was still in school. ‘Well, I’ll get a job and maybe down the road go to grad school.’ It was in the future and I’d worry more about it when it came time. But now was time. The future had become today, and I didn’t know what to do. Many people told me to take my time and not rush into just any job. Looking back, I wished I had listened to them, but as the universe knows, I learn the hard way. As I looked for a job, I was overcome with panic at how unprepared I was to apply for the types of jobs I wanted. Colleges provide a lot of resources to help you move into the job world after graduation, but I had never sought this assistance. I don’t even know how to make a resume. Not to mention, every time I would think about creating a resume I would have the crushing feeling that I haven’t done anything that would make someone want to hire me. And then the fears rolled in. I have loans to need to be paid back. I need income, but the only things I’m qualified for are the same jobs I wanted to get away from when I decided to get my degree. I decided that this was my lot in life: to work menial jobs that payed barely above minimum wage. But the truth is, I feared failure. I couldn’t go after what I really wanted because I might not succeed and so many people were watching, questioning why I went to college. I had worked for the company before and knew that it was a guaranteed job, and it was well within my comfort zone. But the life that happens when you stay in your comfort zone is boring and tragic. I don’t want that. I don’t want to just dream; I want to pursue my dreams. Failure is a much less heartbreaking outcome than never truly living.
  4. I want to be happy. I took my job because I needed to make money to pay back my school loans. Any steady job would do in my mind. Even though I hadn’t been happy working for the company before, I told myself that I could still be happy now; it’s all about perspective, right? A friend recently shared a quote from Mike Rowe on Facebook. The gist of the quote is that people should stop looking for the ‘perfect’ career and just get a job, any job, because happiness doesn’t come from a job. In part, I agree. Happiness does not come from external things but from internal decisions and believes. However, I have come to learn that a job can either facilitate or impede your happiness. My job is making it difficult to choose happiness. I believe this has a lot to do with how my job is counter to my values.

These four cover most of my reasons for leaving my job. Facing my fear is the biggest one.

‘Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be…was a mountain, a distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking toward the mountain I’d be alright.’
-Neil Gaiman