I’ve been so overwhelmed lately and school and all of our fall activities don’t even start for another week. I’m already anxious about the anxiety of my day starting at 6 am and not ending until 8 pm between work, my side gigs, school drop-offs and pick-ups, soccer, dance and baseball. I’ve put over 12,000 miles on my car in the 7 months I’ve had it, and anticipate with all that activity, I will hit close to 20,000 miles by the end of the year. I’m tapped out. My therapist talks to me about “filling my tank” – what does that even mean??
I’ve been staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning listening to inspirational talks on YouTube. I’ve read motivational speeches set against background images of people working out, climbing mountains, going to the ocean, running marathons and reels of Matthew McConaughey and Denzel Washington movies. Then I wake up in the morning and turn on YouTube again to listen to more while I throw back some coffee. I’m trying to pump my brain full of motivational quips – don’t give up, keep going, cut the negative self-talk, life is hard and get over it, nothing good comes without hard work. I’ve generated dozens of post-it notes which I stick up all over the house. I’m sure the kids are wondering why they’re staring at a pink post-it note that reads “You have a say-so in how your life goes” while they brush their teeth. Funny story – there was a response post-it on that particular message that said “Sometimes, but mostly you don’t…” Ahh…so sad, the life of a 10-year-old.
At this very moment, I’m daydreaming about turning to the guy next to me at Starbucks and shouting like they do in the YouTube videos: “Life is 10% about what happens to you, and 90% about what you do about it!” before grabbing my stuff and marching out the door with Baba O’Riley by the Who playing in the background. I imagine throwing in a bunch of cuss words, because somehow that makes it feel even more motivating.
One speech I listened to recently really struck me. It was the idea of facing adversity when going after your dreams, and that the average person “turns back” – therefore guaranteeing that they never achieve their dream. The speaker tells people they need to close themselves in a room, once a day, and host a dream party. Focus on your dream, visualize it, celebrate it, then go out and live it.
Think about that for a minute. The “turn back” moment. How many times have I started something I had dreamed about or loved, and then when people criticized me, I got bored, or felt I’d never get anywhere with my dream or didn’t get enough kudos or recognition, I turned back. I gave it up. Dozens of times. I’ve turned back dozens of times. There are very few things I didn’t turn back on and trudged through – going to graduate school, pursuing and fulfilling the donor/baby process, buying and maintaining my own home (and the damn yard – “maintain” is on a spectrum, there is no shame in that. After all, the two “roommates” I support and chauffeur all over town love the yard but have no interest in maintaining it). Those big ones are things that are not very easy to turn back on. But there are dozens of smaller things that I’ve let go for the wrong reasons – mostly due to the opinions of others or the failure to prioritize my own growth and “tank filling.”
When I inundate myself with positive messages, it doesn’t allow my brain to spend time with negative thoughts late at night or first thing in the morning. It encourages me to think about the things I love to do, where I’ve turned back for the wrong reasons, and what dreams are worth revisiting. My day job is rough and I feel like I don’t have a skill in the world. Sometimes, you just need to hunt the positive messages down and immerse yourself in them, because you’re not always going to find them in the world around you. Note to you and me: there is good in you, you do have a purpose, you just need to find your thing and your people. Now, go out and yell something motivational at that guy sitting next to you at the coffee shop. He will appreciate you for it.