As I go through life I come to a lot of conclusions. I came to this particular one the other day that changed my perspective on how I view my struggles. With learning this, I wanted to share my experience with you.
After realizing that my problems aren’t as big as I make them seem, it has also helped with calming my worries & nervousness a bit. So here we go..
I was in the LA area a few weeks ago, thinking of what I can do to kill some time because the meeting I was there for got pushed back a few hours. I found myself at a Target because, (free parking &) it was something that was familiar. I wanted to be around something that I knew so I wouldn’t be any more nervous than I already was.
My mind was already racing with so many thoughts, but I did my best to distract myself from what might happen later on that day. I did my usual route around Target; first the dollar section, to the makeup, to the school & office supplies, then the books.
I took a lot more time than I usually do at each section because time seemed to be going super slow. I tried to get lost within each item, looking at every detail to distract my mind from racing but it didn’t help much. I ended up having a conversation in my head while walking through the store. I felt as if I was slowly being suffocated with my own thoughts.
“What if they don’t like me? Then oh well.
What if they do like me? Cool, because I already like them.
Will I be able to move here? I don’t know yet. Maybe not here, but close possibly.
How will I afford it? I’ll have to get like 3 jobs.
What will mom & dad say? Doesn’t matter, this is my happiness!
Is this what I want? Like, really really want? Yes, stop asking stupid questions.
No 9-5 so Dad won’t worry? Sorry, but hell no. As much as I don’t want him to worry. I just can’t.
You might have to though, it ain’t looking so good from here. Shit, I know. No, it’ll be fine. I don’t know, fuck me man.”
As I tried to calm myself, I saw a family walking out of an aisle as I entered it. The youngest child who was no more than 4 years old made eye contact & smiled. It was the most sincere innocent smile I had seen in a while & it made me break away from the negative thoughts just for a moment. I stayed in that aisle for about 20 minutes searching through the journals. I knew I didn’t need a new journal, but I searched through each of them anyway.
I was 10 minutes from where the meeting was being held, & I still had about 30 minutes of time left to kill. The uneasiness I felt earlier came rushing back to me. I placed all the journals back & began to make my way to the book section of the store.
I kept telling myself, “Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.”
As I walked I observed the families that went past me. They seemed in the moment, for the most part anyway. Some a little more tired than others, some with no children, some with. Some carts full, some with a few items in their hands. I began to think to myself,
“If I were to live here, or near here what type of person would I be? I would be the same person I am now, but with more stress.
How can people afford to live here? Maybe they have a spouse that works a lot. Or they could be working more than one job.
Everyone seems so carefree though. That don’t mean shit. Mind your business Irene.
What would I have to do to be here shopping acting like I have no worries? I would probably have a few jobs, have to commute probably.
Is this worth it? I would make it so.
How do these people deal? I don’t know but they do.
So I should be able to deal too right? Maybe. If not you move back home.
Fuck that, if I leave. I leave & struggle. Yeah I’ll struggle all right.
Should I just give up? But I’ve already made it this far.
Can I continue to go further? I don’t know. I’ll try though.”
While these thoughts are running through my head, slowly trampling my confidence, I ended up running into the family with the little boy again. He smiled at me with the same smile, but this time he waved. So young, so innocent, for all I know not a care in the world. Just like that, it hit me.
Are my struggles really that big? I’m worrying over pebbles, when others are probably worrying over mountains.
All of these people living in this town also have struggles. (Duh.) They’ve probably been in my position once, or they still might be. They could be on the edge of losing it all. Why am I pacing this Target worrying about something that I won’t even know is really mine until later on today? Even then, anything can change the course of that outcome.
No matter if I get this opportunity or not I will continue to pursue my goals. I will continue with all my projects like before, nothing will stop. Just as the sun continues to rise, so will I. Not gaining this opportunity doesn’t take away from my skills or the tasks I have. Nothing does other than myself.
So why worry?
Well, (because I inherited my mom’s worrisome gene &) that is the person that I am. Although I know this is how I am, I can’t help it. I hadn’t learned how to stop it or at least slow it down until now.
If I’m here in this moment, in this very position it’s because I brought myself here (to an extent). Not only from working my ass off, but also from jumping at an opportunity when I see it. Taking a risk, willing to drive hours, leave work early, piss off my parents (not on purpose), whatever it is to see if this is finally it. If I’m so close to having what I want, (or what I think I want in that moment) it’s either because it will be mine or I’m going to learn from it.
Sure they’ll be struggles along the way. It’s not going to be the easiest route to take, but if it was I would’ve achieved my goals a long time ago. If I’m for some reason not chosen, or given an opportunity, then it obviously isn’t my time yet. That gives me time to learn more, to better myself. Not only better my skills, but better my mentality, my confidence. Become a better me for an opportunity that will be mine.
Just as nobody should be allowed to break me down, an opportunity shouldn’t either. I hope that makes sense. I can’t let a decision of someone else define my worth. I can’t let the future struggles that may or may not happen stop me. Just because someone isn’t able to see my work ethic, or my passion through a resume, doesn’t mean that I’m meaningless. It doesn’t mean that I should change the whole course of my life because others can’t see the vision that my heart tells me I’ll achieve. I believe in me, & if nobody else does, that’s okay. Each experience, good or bad is a lesson. It’s something that I can learn from, because at the end of the day I’m still me, & will continue to pursue my goals. I shouldn’t worry about the “if’s” unless the answer to the opportunity is a “Yes”. Until then, breathe, live, do the best you can do, & always move forward.
Sounds like common sense right? I know that a lot of people may have already learned this lesson, or possibly had this instilled in them. I’m not one of those people. Having little to pretty much no confidence along with trying to make it in an industry that is horribly critical, or where you have to know someone to get in is a really bad combination for me.
Is it stopping me? No. I’ve heard the countless reasons why I should, but I didn’t work this hard to give up simply because the road got a little bumpy.
So that day I stood in Target for the first time since I had arrived & was able to breathe calmly. No need to pace or feed any more negative thought into the universe. I was able to relax again.
I walked out of that Target & told myself, “If all doesn’t go well, then it’ll be okay. It’s not the end of the world Irene. You’ll be disappointed, sure. But it’ll pass as it always does. Just be grateful for the opportunity & continue.”
Please don’t misunderstand the point of what I’m trying to say. I’m not saying that your problems are small compared to someone else. I’m not saying that you should suck it up. I’m only able to say what pain, stress, & worry I can handle based off of my tolerance of it. Like any kind of tolerance, everyone’s level is different. That doesn’t mean that your pain, struggles, or worries should be dismissed, or most importantly not talked about. Being able to take a step back & look at my struggles with this new perspective allows me to realize; “You’ve gone through this or worse before, you can & will do it again.
I hope I can one day get to the point of not having the negative thoughts haunt me. Hopefully one day they’ll be gone completely, but if not as each day goes on I will continue to handle them. I won’t allow them to have the power over every situation.
I know this was a super long read, but I tried my best to get straight to the point & be as forward as possible about what I was trying to say. It also may be a little all over the place with a lot to take in.. If you got this far, thank you for taking the time to read it all.