One Souls Journey
Should you ever find yourself at your lowest point, I highly recommend starting over. Ah, but you ask, “How do I know when I am at my lowest point?” This is by far the easiest thing to recognize prior to you reinvention. I believe there are three fundamental questions you can ask yourself. Do you have means to support yourself? Do you have a friends and/or relatives that you can lean on during trying times? Are you happy? Should you find yourself answering “No” to any of these questions, then it is high time you changed something about yourself.
I found myself in a position where I was unemployed, in debt, under educated, overburdened, without support, and miserable. I felt lost in a sea of possibilities with no motivation or direction. I was starting over and I didn’t even know it. The first step in any reinvention is to succumb entirely to what has happened to you in you current circumstance. Do not resist it. It will happen and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Now this all sounds bleak and depressing, but really it is the most liberating portion of your new self. Once you submit to the events circling your life, you are no longer in a struggle to hang on to what you “had” or the illusion of what you thought you had. Bad things happen, period. And with this new liberation comes a sense of calm and openness: openness to new possibilities, new ideas, and new directions. Once you are open to new things, good things will happen because you are no longer fighting against the currents of change.
Once change starts carrying you through this journey you will find yourself inspired by the smallest of incidents and objects. One day I was sitting in the park, enjoying my new found freedom from the workplace, and spotted a hot dog vendor. This got me thinking about how awesome that must be, to have a cart, in a park, where people are happy, slinging hot dogs to the masses. How wonderful that must be. This simple thought about such a random and plain occupation was bringing me joy and opening up a train of thought that carried me through an inspirational journey of what is and what could be. I envisioned myself a hot dog pusher sans cart. I’d have a one room shop where I could dole out the neatly packaged meat by-products in a variety of presentations, toppings, and such. But my train did not stop at my fantasy dog land, it barreled down the tracks. I was not actually on my mental train so much as I was chasing after it. On the way, I discovered there was a world of ideas in me, that I just needed to take a look at.
Needless to say I am not the proprietor of anything remotely resembling my imaginary hot dog venture. No. I instead settled on something far more meaningful to me than pushing meat-like links into the mouths of the public. Although, the train did have me fully visualize my wiener-quest in excruciating detail down to the name (which I am retaining for future copyrights). I also did not come up with my current venture by hopping from the hot dog train to this final stop; neigh, there were plenty of other gems that whizzed by my Id, ego and superego. I was going to become a painter, a chef, a nurse, a degree carrying accountant, and so on, and etcetera… Dozens upon dozens of inspired ideas, ambitions and fantasies flooded over me, as well as several attempts to actualize them. I have half started works of art; countless notes on the perfect chocolate-chip cookie; research on various topics, all in the vein attempt to jumpstart my new me. However, what finally made me stop and make a solid effort on my reinvention was some simple advice from a friend of a friend. I am sharing with you the most profound advice: find something you are passionate about and do that.
“Wait”, you say, you’ve heard this before? So have I, but sometimes, you need to hear things at the right time and I can only assume that since the title of my little post evoked something for you enough to read this far, you needed to hear it again. It’s like hearing a song on the radio all the time, over many years and having it mean one thing to you; but then something important happens in your life and you hear the song again and it means something different now and forever. For instance, the song “Sail” by Awolnation. The first few times I heard it played it came across to me as a song about a man who loved a woman so deeply he was retarded by it. Weeks after this song first came out, my dearest confidant, the person I aspired to the most, my sister, died. Ever since, this love song, now reminds me of her and I perceive it in a whole new way, maybe even the way it was intended. Now I hear a song about a person saying goodbye to someone they love dearly and telling them to follow when the time is right. But that’s just me. So I repeat it to you: find something you are passionate about and do that.
Let’s break this down for the perfectionists out there. I did not say find something you are good at, or find something that makes you famous, or find something that makes you money. (Albeit that is probably everyone’s goal; to make money.) What I am saying is find something you enjoy doing – you don’t have to make money or be good at it, at least not right now. Remember, you are “Reinventing” yourself. Allow yourself room for error, this is a long process from which you can learn AND, you may not end up where you start and that’s OK. For me, I discovered that I like corresponding to everyone – ANYONE. Writing, typing, posting, tweeting, texting, messaging is far more rewarding for me than conversing. I am not a good speaker; I stumble, stutter and otherwise twist my tongue, however I am born and raised and from South Jersey and we have our own unique brand of speech impediments. I call it the South Jersey Tongue, but I digress. Corresponding… I am happiest with. It gives me opportunity to think, form and edit my thoughts so that they are comprehensive, concise and sometimes witty. So I started blogging. Slow and steady wins the race. I did not choose to become a “writer” so much as I chose to get my thoughts out. When I say out, I mean out of me and out to you. I am not sure I am good at it, nor am I making loads money, but it is a start is it not? I chose to continue what I’ve been doing my whole life. I’ve been spilling my guts in journals since I could write. Now, I am choosing to include an audience. I found my thing I enjoy doing, not because I think I am good at it or that I can make loads of money at it (although that would be nice), I am doing it because it makes me happy… insert emoticon here.
And now the big “But…” The pitfalls of reinvention are hard obstacles you must overcome if you want to be successful in the new you. There are many and they are diverse and even specific to whatever it is you decided to “become”. I could not possibly begin to counsel you on how to avoid them all, but I would like to focus on the most damaging. I believe the hardest one is what I affectionately refer to as the Negative Support Juxtaposition. Let me explain it this way; it is the people around you who love you and the people you associate with that might not love you. Now people that love you are here to nurture you and support you and protect you. It is in their nature, they can’t help themselves. Sometimes this support and protection comes in the form of opinions and criticism. Sometimes this support and protection is good opinions and criticisms, sometimes bad opinions and criticisms. Sometimes it is ego shattering sitting-for-hours-nail-picking-till-your-nail-beds-bleed-esteem-killing criticisms. The other form of ego blocking comes from people that would like to see you fail if only to keep you below them. Now there are two ways I believe you can handle these suffocating critics of love and support and jealousy. The first one is don’t tell anyone what you are doing, just do it – by far the simplest and shortest route to jumping the pitfall. The second; well it requires some finesse and patience. Select only the most positive, upbeat, supportive person, and lean ever so gently on them for feedback. Please be careful, the slightest sign of negativity should be deflected and your reinvention should be sheltered and clandestine henceforth.
As I am still just beginning my reinvention, I consider this and previous public writings of mine still in the experimental stages. I have no awe inspiring tale of success or woe to help you in your journey. I wish you well on your travels, watch the tram-car as it roars past and drags you in its wake, stop and try everything at least once if you can. I leave you with this one thought: If I didn’t start somewhere, you wouldn’t be here with me. Where and when are you planning on taking me with you?