How To Do the Hard Thing
I’ve honed my approach to difficult situations by a mix of willingly diving into them and running away from them enough to realize I should have just dove in.
I think it’s a good skill to have, not fearing extremes of feeling, and adopting a curious attitude toward how they mess with your mind.
This is especially true when you’re young and have to put up with situations and people besides yourself you have no choice but to be in/around to avoid poverty or preserve your independence.
The way I see it, it comes down to fending off your anxieties, limitations, and bs from others for as long as it takes to get yourself to a place where you can choose to do what you want.
Your choices will ideally be ones that don’t trigger your anxieties, allow you to sidestep or comfortably overcome your limitations, and include only people you are compelled and motivated by.
When it comes to anxieties and limitations before you have options, fostering a fondness for yourself, however hard a balm that is for you to apply, is the only thing that can claim any kind of long-term reliability. One way this could manifest is by unlearning what you were raised to think you couldn’t do, then proceeding to try your hand at a multitude of projects tied to these things and failing your way until something sticks.
You’re probably busy doing that already. The failure here a badge of honor you’re too proud to have to let talking down to yourself become a thing, even though it will occasionally rear its head.
A big part of the unlearning for me is looking fears and anxieties in their faces and getting comfortable with them as tenants in the borrowed space of my mind as I proceed to do what I want. There’s a difference between running away from something, which implies you should have stayed put, and walking away from something that isn’t for you. The ultimate arbiter of what that difference entails is you.
If you don’t have the option to work in your chosen field, selectivity where possible will help ensure a sustainable work environment: small intimate team instead of having 100 co-workers; customer service or its absence; that kind of thing. This year is my year to be more mindful in this area, as I finally have a little buffer to prioritize my mental health in professional settings instead of taking the job because I need the money.
When it comes to bs from other people, I favour the realization that we were all thrown into this world without a choice and left to make our own sense of it. Make no mistake, my skin wasn’t always thick enough to follow through on opening my mind to the many ways people make life sustainable. I’ve quit on great people and professional prospects on principle because I was uncomfortable with one specific person. It felt right in the moment, but I now feel differently about how much extra time this strategy tacks on to financial independence and being the sole owner of your time.
The sooner you foster empathy for people you vehemently disagree with, the faster you’ll get to a point where you can reliably avoid them. And perhaps only seek out their company to be ideologically prudent and steer clear of echo chambers. Not so much when you resist every instance of discomfort along the way, lengthening your path to living as you see fit. I believe this the most when I let myself see that we’re all acting in our own self-interest while trying to be as nice as we can to everyone that joins us for the ride. Most of the time, it’s better to have been a part of someone’s plan than to have missed the dance completely.
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