When I was a kid, every bad day was the end of the world. As I got older, I started recognizing that ups and downs were just a part of life. A part of my work, a part of my moods, a part of my relationships… a part of everything really. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Something I think about a lot, which I’ve brought up before, is whether I’d rather feel the same mediocrity every single day, or experience the volatility that comes with highs and lows. I’ve always said that I’d rather ride the wave, but only recently in the past month or so, have I actually started appreciating the depth of those lows.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and lie to you guys by saying that I’m happy when I have off days, and boy do I have them. But what I’m saying is that before, every time I felt things going downhill, I had no perspective. I would immediately dump all of my habits and beat myself up for doing so, in addition to the guilt I already felt for feeling “off” in the first place.
The reason I feel guilty is because I know I’m so lucky. I know I have a million things to be grateful for. I know that overall, I’m really happy with where my life is. But somehow that doesn’t stop bad days from feeling apocalyptic. Even now the awareness I’ve gained is tiny. It’s one small step. But it’s something. It’s knowing in the back of my mind, that even when everything feels like it’s coming to an end, everything is going to be ok.
For the longest time, I felt existentially lonely in this world. Even though now, in general, I’m feeling more connected than ever, on my off days I still feel alone. I always wanted someone to just tell me “everything is going to be ok”. I knew that if I could just hear those words it would be enough to get me through any dips, any off days, or any challenges, but I felt helpless without those words.
I don’t know why it took me twenty-one years to realize this, but I can say those words to myself. I’ve learned that when I’m feeling my worst, if I can just find it in myself to say “Grace I’m here for you” and “everything is going to be ok” then it’s just enough to create that space, that step back, that moment of awareness knowing that this too will pass. This doesn’t mean that I never feel any negative emotions, just that I no longer get fully sucked into them. It’s almost like jumping into a vat of jello but keeping my pinky sticking out into the fresh air, as a reminder that something else exists and I’ll be back to that soon.
I think that part of the reason that I feel alone when I’m feeling down is because [usually] people only put their best selves out there. Social media is flooded with peoples’ highlight reels, but we don’t really see the other side of the story. I think this is probably why we also tend to deny or avoid negativity in our lives in any form. As a society, I think we fear failure more than ever before. We are so obsessed with our images and what other people think of us that we try to deny or hide certain aspects of our personalities and certain aspects of our lives, those that we deem negative, unfavorable, or useless to be specific.
Even when people do talk about hardships, it’s often glossed over or mentioned only in passing. We don’t really see the nitty gritty details of other people’s struggles. And maybe this is for good reason. Maybe it would be too overwhelming if we were all trying to empathize with each other all the time. But what if it wasn’t? What if this new openness helped us all to see that we are not alone? What if, over time, we shifted as a society away from denying negativity to accepting it and embracing it for what it is.
We all know that our pasts, our childhoods, our internal stories contribute to how we define ourselves and how we act. Naturally, it would follow that how we deal with negativity in any one part of our life influences how we deal with it in others. If how we think about and react in response to our off days also reflects the way we respond to challenges or risks in the business world, then we may have a serious problem.
While I think it’s super important to have separation between your work life and your personal life, I think we can all admit that there’s at least some base level of crossover. Namely, you. You are the one living your personal life, but you are also the one acting in your work life. No matter how much conscious control and separation you may have, those unconscious beliefs and conditioning are there in both courts. What I’m trying to say is that I truly believe to excel maximally in your career or whatever other area of your life matters to you most, you must face yourself first.
I see so many crazy talented people whose inner stories are affecting their ability to navigate the work world and holding them back. It honestly makes me so sad because I feel like these people might not even be aware of how much potential, how much energy, and how much confidence can be found by facing those personal fears and tackling those demons from the past. Now obviously this is just my opinion, and I can’t be sure of this. But in my life, every time I challenge one of my personal stories or face one of my emotional fears, I come out so much stronger in other aspects of my life. Starting with just having more energy and going all the way to being open to failure.
So here’s my challenge to you. If you’re feeling stuck or blocked or like you haven’t been able to reach your full potential in one area of your life no matter how hard you try, look to another. Look for those things you know you don’t want to find. You guys know that I personally believe when we can identify feelings of fear or discomfort and recognize that we don’t want to do something, that’s where we find the best places to push forward and grow. Because it’s in those things that we don’t want to do that we find those things we really need to do. \
So to be honest with you guys, today was a rough day for me. I wasn’t feeling great. But somewhere inside of me I knew to reassure myself, “everything is going to be ok”. I started thinking about how this was such good practice for facing a hard problem and feeling hopeless. I kept reminding myself that not feeling 100% doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the value of these experiences in my life. Because at the end of the day, how you see it is everything. So if you can see any experience of negativity as an opportunity, then that’s exactly what it will become for you.