Welcome to my little corner of the interwebs. I know it’s not much right now, but after months of daydreaming about all of the wonderful things that I hope to do with this space and weeks of agonizing over how to write “the perfect first post,” I thought I’d take a piece of my own advice and just… you know…
Even if it’s imperfectly.
And it will be. Because that’s the nature of beginnings. They aren’t meant to perfect or complete, they are just meant to show us what we are already capable of while tempting us with glimpses of our greater potential. They are meant to encourage, to inspire, and to motivate us towards trying something again, trying something harder, trying something differently and to remind us that no matter where we go from here, we’ve already come one step further then we might have ever thought possible.
It’s easy to forget all of this, though. By the time many of us get to The Real World, we’ve become so accustomed to being graded, categorized and judged by our perceived successes that we forget how often they were shaped, driven and informed by our perceived failures. To make matters worse, the praise we often receive from succeeding coupled with the criticism we often receive when we don’t leaves most of us – myself included – averse to anything that might resemble failure. And what better way to avoid failure than by never trying to begin with, right?
Which is precisely why, despite having decided to start this blog sometime in April, I am only just now actually doing it. Because for two months now, I’ve been agonizing over how to succeed (and if you’ve ever tried starting a blog while obsessing over success, you know how much literature is out there telling you exactly what you should do as well as when, why, how and where.)
Except none of it sounded fun! None of it sounded like what I wanted to put out into the world. None of it sounded like ME.
And then I realized… I don’t want to succeed. At least that’s not my main goal right now (much less if my success is being measured by someone else’s standards). I want to experience, I want to enjoy, I want to learn, to grow, to try, to fail and to discover my own personal brand of success. Which I suppose is no surprise since I titled my blog “Life, Experienced.”
You see, I had big plans for my life. I was going to graduate high school, study film at NYU, kick ass in all of my classes, write a fucking epic screenplay, fall in love with some dark, brooding barista at a Starbucks, graduate college, land a job at New Line Cinema, marry my coffee-brewing beau, convince some established producer to hand me $2M so that I could breakout with a directorial debut the likes of which Hollywood had never seen before, and then pop out a perfect spawn that I would raise effortlessly with my hubby in our boho-chic apartment in Brooklyn.
At least. That was the plan because… movies.
What ACTUALLY happened?
Well, I graduated high school, got accepted to NYU (but not their film program), realized how expensive NYU actually was, decided to go to film school in England instead, kicked ass in most of my classes (but not all), wrote some decent screenplays (but not a fucking epic feature), spent too much time pining over the wrong guys, graduated college, moved to Los Angeles, worked on a lot of bad short films for free, contracted a life threatening illness (hello Lyme Disease), lost the ability to walk, talk or process audio/visual information, moved back in with my parents, spent a year dying, then a year recovering, then two years processing the trauma of the preceding two years, then another year trying to figure out “where the fuck do I go from here” until eventually, in 2014, I found myself staring down the barrel of twenty-nine single, jobless, and in a city that I didn’t like AT ALL.
Which is all to say, nothing in my life has gone according to plan.
NOTHING. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH. SQUAT.
At twenty-eight, my closest friends all lived 1000+ miles away, my romantic life was a joke, my resumé might as well have said “she let fear get in the way of embracing her true potential,” and the thing that I was most proud of, that left me feeling the most confident, that brought me the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in life was that “I survived Lyme Disease and I’m not a miserable, angry fuck.” What I DID have going for me was my eternal optimism and a whole heck of a lot of Life Experience. And this is what I had learned from it:
MEASURING SUCCESS by how closely my reality matches up to my expectations is futile. So is measuring success by how closely my reality matches up to other people’s expectations. Instead, I measure it by the amount of joy I feel on a day to day basis. Everything else can go fuck itself.
THERE IS NOTHING that I can’t do, just a whole lot of things that I can’t do YET.
MY ABILITY TO FEEL IMMENSE JOY is inextricably tied to my willingness to feel intense pain, sorrow and hurt. It is impossible to experience one without the other.
I AM FAR HAPPIER when I am a version of myself that I like than when I am a version of myself that other people like. Fortunately, the right people seem to like me more when I like myself. And I don’t care about the wrong people any more.
HOW GOOD YOU ARE when you start something is rarely important, what is important is that you start it and keep at it long enough to see that effort results in progress.
and, perhaps the most important lesson I picked up along the way was realizing that:
LIFE IS NOT MEANT TO BE “figured out” or “succeeded at” it is meant to be EXPERIENCED. The good, the bad, and the downright fugly. We only fail when we fail to recognize the value of those moments in which our lives didn’t go according to plan.
Armed with these (and a few other) nuggets of wisdom, I dove into the past two years with one singular goal: to experience my life wholeheartedly. Less judgement, less criticism, less comparisons, less fear, less shame, less of avoiding failure and pain. Instead, I wanted to take risks, to dare to fall short of my goals, to try even when something seemed impossible or unlikely, to leap even if I didn’t feel quite ready, to give myself the space to feel ready, to be open, to be honest, to be unapologetically me. To BE. To BEGIN. And to experience whatever came my way.
Which is perhaps how I ended up where I am today: Five months shy of thirty and happy, albeit with a life that is completely different than what I had imagined for myself.
These days I have amazing friends that I see almost daily, two dogs that fill my life with mischief and joy, a relationship that challenges and fulfills me in the most unexpected ways, a continuously supportive family, and the unwavering belief that no matter what comes my way, it won’t fundamentally alter my ability to be happy.
I still haven’t figured out the whole career thing, though, nor how to juggle every-day-adulting with all of the things that I want to do with my time. Some days I still fall short of the person that I want to be and struggle to see past my judgements and fears long enough to recognize that they aren’t REAL. Somedays I eat nothing but (gluten-free) cereal with almond milk and go to bed feeling like a total fraud because I’m a life coach AND a health coach and I “should know better.”
And then somedays I remind myself that everyone is struggling just the same and that my job is not to be perfect, but to have the courage to be imperfectly so that others might wholeheartedly stand in their own imperfections too. And on those days, I make myself a cup of tea and I start a blog.