Every night, after I stay up until tomorrow, when I head to the bathroom to get ready for bed, I think: “I’m too tired to wash my face.” And then, (almost) every night, I do. Because I (almost) always brush my teeth, and it’s just as easy to slap a face mask on before that, letting it dry as I brush and rinse. And then…that’s when the self-care calm washes over me.
Confession: many nights, I don’t follow any “steps.” (This can be problematic as a Woman Building Her Skincare Empire). But since I’ve now gone to all the trouble of not only brushing my teeth in the aforementioned scenario, but masking my face, it’s just as easy to apply a soothing cream and rub my temples as I run through my tomorrow…only hours away at this point.
Man…this entrepreneurial thing is such an interesting ride. I’m exhausted. I’m exilerated. I’m failing. I’m learning. I’m making new, deep, and lasting friendships…I’m letting go of the relationships that are crumbling beneath the shallow foundations they reveal themselves to be built upon. My head is always, always, always going.
Am I trading my passion for my kid’s needs?
Am I exchanging my happiness for that of my husband’s?
Do I even deserve to claim my happiness?
Why do people trust me to lead them?
And then…I rinse my face with warm water, rub that cream on, spending those few extra seconds rubbing my temples and think…I THINK. And what I think is: “I sure wasn’t thinking about ANY of this while working as a nurse.”
Planet Nurse was about getting out before they could get me. Self-preservation. CYA. It was about making paycheck-to-bills-to-fun-to-depleted checking account choices. It was about always intending to contribute more to a savings account. (Wasn’t I supposed to have 8 months of living expenses saved up?) It was about negotiating Christmas mornings with Thanksgiving afternoons, swapping shifts and signing up for OT, only to loathe those days arriving. It was about adjusting 401ks; or most specifically, adjusting the “you can expect to retire by the age of” toggle on the company’s website and feeling horrified. It was stress on the manageable, bite-size, paycheck-to-paycheck scale…living in increments of 2 weeks, cycling through All Was Well and All Was F*cked. It was getting by but never getting ahead. “Dream big” would have been a notion I would have laughed off, or rolled my eyes at, smug in my skepticism.
That’s the sneaky part about complacency: you live within your circumstances and the outcomes of choices you made as a different person, years ago. You forget that there are still, indeed, options, and ways out. (Or maybe, ways back in). Holding on to what we know even when the world is shifting – even if it means preferring to rot in comfort – is just human nature. We prefer familiar pain over the unknown.
But here is the beautiful gift of the New Year: we are expected to reflect upon our lives and act on those things that are feeling incongruent to what we know without our truest selves.
So…if you find yourself wanting…”something,” whether it’s More or Less or Bigger or Smaller than what you currently have, here is my advice: begin by saying “yes.” That’s the start, and the hardest part. Admitting that you could want to be a different person and then accepting that is the middle; making the decision to pursue a passion is the end.
The problem is that we may mistake this cycle for a stationary one, when really it repeats itself as often as we let it. Finding something new to love and then pursuing it…this makes a life worth living in my book. Not for someone else, not in the pursuit of someone else’s dreams (even if that someone else was our past self), but in the pursuit of our own dreams.
Here’s what I know: every night we go to bed with a choice. To wake up building a life we deliberately, terrifyingly CHOOSE to build, or to mimic the day we’ve just completed. And those choices can masquerade as simple, everyday moments.
Perhaps the biggest mistake we make is believing that the moments in our lives that define the rest of our life come few and far between. They don’t.
They exist in every moment.
They exist in every day.
Choose to ignore them and indeed they will pass you by, untouched.
Like, I used to collapse in bed, wake up before daylight and hit the snooze button ad infinitum, dreading the banal start to my work days. But, then I began to wash my face (almost) every night. Which crazily enough has allowed me to wake up to the rhythm of my family. And even as I go to bed tired and bleary-eyed, knowing that that is likely not going to change for awhile, even with crazy conflicting thoughts, I am doing so knowing that I am operating within my highest potential. That I chose. Knowing that the trade off for my time now is a worthwhile one because what I choose to let exhaust me now has profoundly changed me and those around me, for the better.
These days, the ones where I get to wake up without a snooze button, are turning out to be the most passion-filled of my life. Because now, most importantly, I wake up, WOKE. And life is too damn short for 5 more minutes of avoidance.
I’m coming in hot for you, 2018. With a whole lot of YES.