What’s Stopping You?

I write a lot about my hopes, dreams, failures, moderate successes, fears, desires and needs. It started me thinking that my blog self is not really a true reflection of my human self. I think I come off far more confident and focused than I do on my blog. What I write here is raw, it is true and I believe it’s the place I try to get to the core of how I feel. Who I am without thinking about all of it is a little different, more easy-going, but ever critical of myself. That being said, I started thinking again about why I started this blog. It became something cathartic for me, but started out as a way for me to share with other women what I had learned. I’m still early in my walk into the unknown and for those who have followed my journey, you know it hasn’t been easy. I’m not completely surrounded by darkness, but I’ve had little light guiding my way. I wanted to write just a few words to encourage you, the one reading this, to strike out and do the thing that always frightened you, but always tantalized you.

The life you wanted to live doesn’t have to conflict with your love for your family or your obligations as wife and mother. If you really want to live on a farm in the Midwest, but you’re stuck near some city because you never made the move to buy your own farm, or you don’t have any friends in that area, or you’re not sure that there is a book club for you out there are simply just excuses you make so you don’t feel guilty or remorseful about giving up on yourself, on your dream. Again, I don’t like to split hairs so if your dream is to be a drug runner for some large cartel, then yes, I think you have significant conflicts and it is unreasonable to assume that you could live the life you want and fulfill your obligations as wife and mother. However, if owning a bookstore, or working in a bakery is your true dream, what holds you back?

What held me back for a long time wasn’t one single thing. It began with laziness. I wasn’t happy, but I was comfortable. I made good money as a teacher (if you can imagine) and I didn’t really want for anything. Then I stopped being a teacher. My new reason became fear of a failure. I had a career that I could go back to even though I knew I didn’t want to, but I nowhere to move forward. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and it was really frustrating to be approaching 30 without any idea of the direction I wanted my life to go. Then when I finally figured it out, what held me back was what other people thought. There will be people who say it can’t be done, it’s too hard, a person can’t survive that way, or a variety of different negativity. I had a feeling that there were people in my life who had no stake in whether I succeeded or failed and therefore supported me simply because it wasn’t a risk for them to do so. I was very nervous about my parents, my sister, my close friends. What would they think? I had a vision. Many people have visions of what they want; not everyone tries to achieve it and of those who do try to achieve it, many fail.

A friend recently reminded me: Those who gave up on their dreams never knew how close they were to getting achieving them. If you’ve ever read Paulo Cuehlo’s book The Alchemist, you’ll know what I mean. He said it better, albeit allegorically, than I ever could. If you’ve not read this book, please, for your sake and mine, it’s wonderful and you will love it. It might change your life, even just a little bit and that change is so worth it.

I’m telling you, following your dreams is exhilarating. Put aside the fear, silence the voices (real or imaginary) and go.

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Breaking the Crystal

I’m reading a book called The Object Stares Back by James Elkins and in the first chapter, he summarizes a viewpoint made by Stendhal about how men fall in love with women: “a lover forms a misguided idea of the person he loves and distills it into a perfect crystal. He worships the crystal, no matter what his lover might actually be like, until the moment comes when the insistent presence of the woman herself shatters the crystal and the love affair is ruined. The crystal is an entirely mistaken image of the beloved, something built out of things that have been mis-seen and misunderstood. According to Standhal, a love affair is a triangle, made of the man and the woman, who actually exist and the crystalline version of the woman created by the man.”

I’m fascinated by this idea and though Stendhal is apparently considered a bit of a chauvinist by modern standards, I think it’s actually less of a knock to women than it is to men. I won’t speak for my entire gender, but I will say that when I am with a man, I want him to see me for who I am because if he doesn’t, then what is the point of being with him? Why does he want to be with me if he only sees the pretty reflections on the wall? There’s a lot of good, but there’s some bad and a shade of ugly. I want to be accepted for all those things and as much as some men might say, I do accept those things and I love them…I hazard a guess that nobody is going to love my nagging, or pickiness, or bossiness. It just doesn’t compute and if he does, I think there’s something wrong with him. Nobody likes me being bossy.

So when I came across this quote, I just started thinking about all the things that have to go right if I’m going to meet anyone again and make something long term last with him. It’s just something I’m thinking about considering the fact that I’m still married and that I haven’t really figured out who Susanna at 30 is. With all the changes I’ve experienced, I’m looking forward to settling into a routine and slowly finding what I want, and who I want to be, or who I am regardless of who I want to be. I used to feel like I was in a race, but somehow divorce has made me realize that when I get there is when I get there. Racing toward it the first time didn’t work and if I never get there, then I wasn’t meant to anyway.

A New Beginning

Friday I wrote about starting over. I have just been given a chance at something very new: a new career in a field I’ve never worked in. I’m going to be a Communications Specialist for Local 721 in Los Angeles. I’m thrilled! I’m terrified! I’m relieved! I’m anxious!

I’m thrilled. I am so excited to be able to get my life back on a track that I expect for myself. Having a career doesn’t mean that my entertainment goals are any less strong or on the back burner. It means that I don’t have to suffer in poverty while I pursue comedy, even if poverty is a strong motivator behind why I felt successful at comedy. When there is nothing else, there is making people laugh. People laugh at tragedy. Not to say my life is tragic, but it isn’t ideal. I’m excited to be on my own again, making my own way, the way I know how. I’m excited to help people instead of being the one who is helped. I’m excited to have something new. I’m excited to wake up to work.

I’m terrified. I could fail. This isn’t like teaching where I had a few years of experience and lots of resources to help me. This is a brand new field and while I have some experience to guide me, I’ll be learning more initially than I’ll be able to contribute. Naturally, I want to be successful right away because I want those who hired me to be happy with their choice. I’m terrified that it won’t be what I hoped for, or that I didn’t understand what I was getting into. I’m terrified that I’ll hate it. I’m terrified that I’ll love it.

I’m relieved. I am so relieved to be able to stop asking my parents for handouts. I’m relieved to get on a regular schedule that my body, mind, and soul can become accustomed to. My worries about succeeding are a little less because I have the prospects of a new life and an opportunity to do it.

I’m anxious. There are so many what-ifs that my brain starts moving in directions it doesn’t need to, creating disaster scenarios that aren’t realistic, but make my heart flutter with worry and my gut turn. Failure has been a good friend of me in recent years and of course, I’m anxious that I’ll fail again.

These feelings are all normal and they don’t really mean anything except that I have a heart, I’m breathing and I’m alive. For a long time, I didn’t feel that way. When I look back at my life one year ago, everything was just so different and part of me is happy that it’s so different and part of me laments some of the things I left behind. There isn’t anything I can do now, and truth be told, I wouldn’t change my life as it is. I just have a hard time accepting this new part of my life because I got so used to my life being crappy and making jokes out of it. I don’t feel like I deserve this new job, or real happiness any time soon. I think I need to suffer a little more, even if that sounds foolish. I’m trying to enjoy these moments, as my friend Nicole suggested, because letting them pass by is a true waste. I just need to convince my heart that it’s right, I deserve it and I will succeed.