Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy — this is true for selfies and just general life things like parallel parking and speaking coherently in meetings. It’s also commonly exacerbated by mirrors, well-intentioned friends, and our current political landscape. So, how do you get out of your own way? Glad you asked…
What’s holding me back is ___________.
Remember that old adage about how it’s easier to smile than frown? (I low-key do not agree, frowning is just working with gravity, but whatever.) Let’s apply it to a non-specific day in your life. Scenario #1: You get up late, spill coffee all over the freakin’ place on your way into work, accidentally send an email mid-sentence without spell-checking, realize you forgot the lunch you lovingly meal-prepped and shell out $14.86 for some spinach scraps… but you keep on smiling, you laugh at yourself, you tell gravity to go f*ck itself, and you make the day work for you. Attitude game strong. Scenario #2: You get up late and scream internally at the injustice of this whole freaking world like can you not catch a break what is wrong with society and iPhone alarms suck and Dairy Queen got rid of the Snickers Blizzard so what the hell is there to live for anyway… you catch my drift. Your attitude has made you about as fun and/or useful as the movie Glitter. Not ideal.
It sounds cliché, but your attitude is a choice — and people with good attitudes are just going to have better days most of the time. Do you want in on that? I thought so.
When I moved to Chicago in January, at first I was afraid, I was petrified (lol) that I was making a mistake I wouldn’t be able to take back or undo. I had all these insane safety measures in place — if I don’t like it, I’ll move back in one month, I just have to make it one month, I can do it?? I even seriously considered not moving, because I was happy enough where I was — I had my family, friends, an okay-this-ain’t-the-end-of-the-world job, and a city I knew like the back of my hand. It’s at this point in the movie that our plucky protagonist is saying over and over “I’m fine where I am!!” and our baritoned voiceover man clues us in: “She was not fine.”
My fear was making me complacent — putting a rose-colored sheen on everything that had come before and allowing me to forget all the moments at my “absolutely fine” job where I had wanted to pull every hair out of my head in stressed agony. Fear is like that, it washes away what we know to be true and fills our head with doubts, concerns, and reasons why we are just. so. darn. fine. the way we are. What’s the best way to handle this? For me, it’s recognizing the fear is there and determining its source. And then just rolling with it, without letting it run my life or make decisions for me. So, I moved to Chicago. I cried about it, felt scared, insecure, and unsure. But I still did it. That’s the difference.
As an incredibly insecure person (holla?), I am intimately acquainted with the ways insecurity can insidiously work its way into every area of your life and destroy your self-confidence, bit by bit. Insecurity is what makes me ask, “Do I deserve to be here?” at every function I attend. (Suffice it to say, I’m the life of the party.) So, what can be done about this? Unfortunately, it’s all a mind game — and those can be hard to break out of, even for the best of people. It’s why stuff like Imposter Syndrome exists.
So, here’s what I do. Step 1) Take comfort in the fact that basically everybody has some sort of insecurity — because we’re all pretty self-absorbed creatures (yes, Karen, EVEN YOU) and care about what other people think of us to the detriment of our own selves. People like TONI MORRISON a PULITZER PRIZE WINNER suffer from Imposter Syndrome. So, you’re not alone. Step 2) Feel the insecurity and do it anyway. Go to the party. Make the speech. Ask him/her/it out. It’s okay to feel insecure, it’s human, but don’t let it literally prevent you from making any decisions except what to order at Chipotle. Step 3) Reward yourself for your efforts. Go to the party… and afterward, eat some chocolate and take a nice, long, relaxing bath. YOU DESERVE IT.
Have you ever known someone who makes it all look so easy? It seems like they just… get what they want, on the first try, with little to no experience, knowledge, or drive. LOL OF COURSE YOU DO, you probably know lots of people like that. Except, of course, no one really has it that easy. We all have baggage — fun! — to deal with, whether or not you can see it. The trick is being cognizant of this and letting that knowledge halt your jealousy, anger, and resentment (the holy trinity) in their tracks. Because what is that jealousy really doing for you? Is it driving you to work harder? …Probably not. I’m guessing it’s making you seethe in your apartment like you’re beginning to show signs of rabies. Not a good look.
I battle with jealousy — and (super not) healthy doses of resentment — all the time. From “why did she get a date the moment she started Bumble, I’ve been on this train for a year” to “why did her business take off and mine is burning stagnant?” And what it all boils down to is being WAY TOO CONCERNED with how other people are living their lives. All that resentment comes from comparing (bingo) my life to theirs. And that makes no sense. I know it’s natural, I know it’s easy, I know it’s hard to stop once you’ve started. But it still makes no sense. So the next time you compare yourself to someone else, recognize that you did it, laugh at yourself because WHO CARES what that other person way over yonder is doing, and let it fuel you to work harder at whatever it is you are doing. Which is what you should be worried about, am I right? Spoiler: I am.
This is a fun one because it’s not your fault — hooray! Sometimes, what’s bringing us down is a whole slew of toxic people we are forced to interact with during our day to day life. Toxic people that are probably suffering from one of the symptoms I so eloquently listed above, or are just run of the mill psychopaths (hey, it happens). So, how to deal? First, determine why they are toxic to your life. Is it fixable or is it full-scale FUBAR? If it’s fixable, have an open and honest conversation — or at least open up a ~dialogue~ — about what’s bothering you or ways you can both change your attitude/behavior/zodiac sign to help the situation. If there’s simply no way to fix it, limit your time with that person as much as humanly possible. And when you do see them, don’t engage (seriously, Karen, DON’T ENGAGE). Let it roll off your back and take solace in the fact that you are a nice a** human and have wine at home. It’s the little things.