Yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind–as you could probably tell from my totally random WIAW post. Whatever–I got to see a bunch of long lost friends, go for a trail run on some new trails, get my zen on at yoga, and see marshmallows being made in the foods lab. Busy, huh?
So far today has been about this: me dancing back and forth between whether or not to go to the library today, whether or not to bike tonight or risk getting rained out tomorrow (looking like a sure thing) or going to spin in the morning (and what do I need to pack and how hard is it gone be to haul myself out of bed) and googling the menu at Veg Out for the delicious dinner date I’ve got planned and checking out yoga schedules to see when I can go get my zen on and wondering if my stomach hurts from the fro yo or the cereal last night or from anxiety and then realizing I need to slow the heck down. Scream into a pillow, if that helps. Stop these racing thoughts!
The solution: breakfast and a blog.
And lucky for me, I’ve got something to talk about.
When there’s background music, you know it’s gonna get good.
Last night, one of my friends who hasn’t seen me in a while asked a pretty innocent question (and he meant it in the kindest of ways because he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body). It went something like this:
“So, last time I saw you you were all excited because you got accepted to Columbia or some other Ivy League school for journalism. Now, you’re not going. What are you doing?”
It actually came out worse than that, but I’m doing him a favour and making it sound gentler than it was. Lucky for me, I was in a good mood (copious amounts of fro yo in my bowl helped) and could take it somewhat lightly, but I think it has more to do with where my head is at than with me being resilient or not caring what other people think (although those things are bonuses!). I’ve written before about some comments that bugged me about “giving up” on journalism and I’ve made it pretty clear that I think of my decision not to go to grad school to pursue a masters in journalism as a choice and as a way to open myself up to a bigger calling. Yes, I love to write and I think I will write as part of my future career, but I don’t think I need to go to grad school for it. Maybe that’s me being crazy, but all I need is a pen and paper or a computer and I can be a writer, no matter what other people might think. If I wanted to be a reporter things would be different. But I just want to write about things that I’m passionate about, and to me it seems like a better route to go after the things that I’m passionate about and let the writing happen. So there.
I did get to thinking though, that I’m going to probably go through a little bit of sorting if I decide not to finish this dietetics program. Am I giving up? Since this is the third–read it, THIRD time I’ve started the thing, I think to some people I might look like a failure.
To me, I’m still awesome. I am just learning what I want and don’t want and exploring things. Do I really want to take these courses? Do I really want THIS job (though I know that I could do just about anything as an RD, I could also do a hell of a lot otherwise too)? Do I really FEEL right in this place? What is MY heart telling me to do?
Right now it’s telling me to be okay with not knowing, with seeking out and exploring some alternatives, and with being totally open to the possibility instead of fearing the unknown!
And here comes my point: I think we get so caught up in believing that we failed. 2 examples come to mind for me…
Example A: You try to “go vegan” (or vegetarian, or paleo, or to eat local). You flub up and eat some bacon from a farm on the other side of the world or whatever it is you were so sure you were never going to eat again. You immediately slide back into your old eating habits and maybe even go to an extreme. This is all or nothing thinking and this is typical, but it’s not right. What if instead, you gave yourself credit for all the times you didn’t mess up? So you went vegetarian to save the animals — think of all the chicken breasts you didn’t eat? So you went paleo because bread makes you feel sick — think of all the sandwiches you didn’t eat? Telling you to focus on the positive and celebrate your successes might be cliche, but there’s a reason it’s cliche: because it’s classic an dlegit and you should do it!
Where are you beating yourself up where you could be giving yourself credit?
Example B: You start a new job or a new program in school. It feels right for a while but you have an inkling suspicion that it’s wrong. But it’s secure: there’s a job at the end of it…or is there? You stay in it because you want security, but you feel like you’re settling. You think about all the other things you could be doing but you decide that at the risk of looking like you’re quitting, you power through it. … my thoughts are this: are you happy? Are you going to be happy? Yes, we have to put up with some crappy stuff along the way, but I would argue that it’s only worth it if it’s really going to be worth it. Is the payoff there? Are you going to have the life of your dreams? I think I summed up how I managed to shift from the “giving up” to the choice based perspective I’m taking on my decisions about school. What I’ve learned in the process is huge: the life of your dreams isn’t something you put off and create in the future, it’s in how you approach your life right now.
Where are you hanging on for fear of being seen as a quitter?
So I’m not saying you should drop out of school, quit your job, etc. etc. but I am saying that you should stop fearing failure. A fundamental shift happened for me: I’m not giving up on journalism, on being an ethical eater, on being a dietitian, on anything I may have set as a goal for myself. I am, however, learning by making mistakes. I am figuring out why I’m “failing” and I’m taking that as insight into how I can do better next time OR I’m adjusting my goals to better fit what I’m hearing from within. The other day I decided I wanted to eat more real food–less processed stuff. Then yesterday I had a very good start to things but ate froyo and cereal for dinner. Am I a failure? Do I start my day off today feeling bad about myself? Do I throw out the cereal in my cupboard so I don’t eat it all the time? Hells no. I check in and realize that like I said yesterday, change isn’t about guilt or about forcing yourself. I don’t actually want to eat all the same processed foods all the time. And good, powerful change comes from within so it wouldn’t matter what was in my cupboards…and I think we can all relate to this.
Are there foods you can’t keep in the house? Did you ever think that maybe you could if you just realized you wouldn’t be out of control if they were around? That it wouldn’t be guilt producing or feel wrong to eat something if you really were listening to what YOU want?
Besides eating, which is just an easy example, I think opening up to failure and mistakes and the learning process is the whole point of being alive (ha, if that’s not a big statement for a blog, I don’t know what is). Life lesson from Cheryl: If I was perfect from the get go and I had all the answers, what would be the point? I’m here to learn–and the best way to learn is from experience. Instead of giving up after a failure, I think it’s time we looked at is as fuel to help us “grow up” (whether we’re 20 or 50 or 80 years old) into better, smarter, more capable people.
I’m going to do my best to take my own advice here as I try to continue on this path–exploring new possibilities for my future career, trying to figure out what foods make me feel most nourished and alive, trying to find a healthy and fun balance with my training, trying to balance life and all the fun things I want to do with some of the less fun things I need to get done (laundry?), etc. etc. In every aspect! When I forgive myself for these little “slips” and see them as lessons instead of failures, I don’t have to worry about going to the opposite extreme (goodbye binges, hello self love). Amen to this realization!
Like I said yesterday, things just feel so right to me. If you’d told me I’d be here and feeling good a year ago I’d never have believed you because from an outside perspective (my friend’s perhaps) it would seem like I’m off track and confused. The truth is I’m more on track, in tune with what I want and who I want to be on the inside (and this is what’s important) than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And that makes me happy and I can say whole heartedly that I love my life with all its lessons.
…it would appear as though I’m not going to make it to the library before class. Failure? I don’t think so. Lesson? I think the one I just articulated (or tried to) was worth having to do an extra hour of work this weekend. This is all kind of big stuff: deciding to be who you are, to love who you are, and to live your life to the fullest, don’t you think?
Where else could you apply this thinking about learning from your mistakes in your life?
Can you relate to any of this rambling?
Do you feel like you’re living the life of your dreams every day? How could you make that shift?