Life is filled with opportunities. Some of which don’t appear until we get slapped so hard with reality that you can’t see straight, let alone embrace the opportunities standing in front of you. That’s what happens when we let the comfort of consistency take control of our lives. I have been comfortable in what I do for a living for ten plus years. I have considered what I do as a job as important, something that brings me joy, but it wasn’t until life rocked my world that I realized I wasn’t feeling joy, I was complacent. Complacency and happiness are not the same thing. Complacency is settling for something because you know what to expect, you don’t fear what may happen. But in fear we find courage and in courage we achieve greatness. I want to achieve greatness. So, I threw out the old playbook and I fought for myself.
If you believe that life is full of opportunities, then you can find a way to achieve greatness. My father once told me, and yes, he stole it from Marc Anthony, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I believed I was doing what I loved because I believed I was enjoying my work and it was feeding my soul. I was wrong. I did what I loved because it was the only option available to me and I convinced myself that because I was good at what I did I was happy. I never considered that my happiness was slowly bleeding away. Then my world came crashing down. I lost my mother and then my father in less than a year. I struggled with this loss and yet I still persevered. I tried against all odds to find joy, I tried to muster what it was that brought me happiness and yet each day that went by I felt more trapped than freed from my demons. It was in this moment I realized I was complacent not happy, I had consistency not joy. Then I began to write. I read more than I had in years prior, and my soul slowly began to feel whole again. Because for me, reading, writing, analyzing, these were pieces of myself I had buried so that I could do what I needed to do. I forced myself to believe I was happy when in reality I was pushing away the very pieces of myself that made me...me.
Some would say it is a crazy thought to look at a career ten years in the making and try something new. l felt that way when I sent my first application in for an editorial position. I remember saying to myself “you’re nuts, why would do leave something you’ve spent so long building, why walk away when you’ve come this far.” But the small voice in my head whispered, “you’re not happy here anymore.” Then began the inner struggle between who I am and who I wish to become. This is something we all face, the struggle between who we need to be to just get by and who we desire to be. While in college I received advice from one of my professors that applies not only to writing but also to this exact experience. She told me to stop fighting myself. When I write I tend to argue both for and against my own opinion, I find flaws and somehow argue both ends of the thesis. She reminded me to back myself, stop fighting myself and start defending myself instead. When I woke up and realized how unhappy I felt about my daily life I realized I wasn’t fighting for myself in the way I needed to. I was fighting to stay complacent instead of backing myself to explore what I wanted.
In a world surrounded by the importance of mental health, of physical health, of emotional well-being I realized that sometimes change, as scary as it can be, is the only way to move forward. I was stagnant, trapped in a prison of my own making and the only thing stopping me from freeing myself was...myself. I needed to allow myself to follow my dreams. Jessie J in her song “Who You Are” says “Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing.” When I look at myself, I see someone who fought hard to get where she is today. Who never took no for an answer, who pushed from the bottom to make it to the top. But somewhere along the way I forgot about the girl who loved literature. The girl who spent more vacations curled up with a book than enjoying the beach. I locked her away because she had no place in the world, I created for myself and that was my biggest mistake. By locking away pieces of myself that fed my soul I slowly pushed myself into the prison of my own making. I stopped dreaming of what I could be and started seeing what I had become. I’m not unhappy with who I am but I am unsatisfied with what I do. It was in these moments I realized how complacent I became and how desperately I needed to fight for myself.
Now I’m not here to tell you that you should throw away your career on a whim. I am not here to say you should follow every pipe dream that comes down your drain, but I will tell you that when you sit with yourself and wonder “is this what feeds my soul?” If the answer is no, you need to start reevaluating. Search inside yourself for what is missing and fight like hell to gain what you need. For me it was simple, I wanted to pursue a career in the literary world, and I needed to find the courage inside myself to fight for that dream. We are all capable of achieving greatness if we get out of our own way and fight for ourselves instead of against ourselves.