Life, as I’ve learned, is a bag full of tricks. And, while there are so many opportunities presented to us each day, it is way too easy to fall into a pattern or routine and experience tunnel vision. I’m as much to blame as the next person, but I’ve caught myself thinking about how I got to where I am, and the small moments in life that built up to the here and now. It boils down to one word: yes.
In relationships. People are odd. And weird. Hell, I’m a lot of both (and really proud of it). There are so many people in this world that you’ll run into. He might not be your Prince Charming, and you might not think there’s anything between the two of you worth pursuing. Who really knows? But, I believe that every person you meet in this world leaves you with something – no matter how big or small. I’ve had cringe-worthy first dates that made me want to run away, crawl into a hole and just give up forever. But, then, I’ve had first dates that turned into the beginning of a great friendship, as well as dates that were filled with conversation that got me thinking in ways I never did before. However, use your own judgment on character – I prefer to not be held responsible for your failed experience with the homeless man that asked you out in his drunken stupor (if this is where you went with this, I think you may have taken this a bit too literally).
In work. I’m going to start with the obvious: hard work pays off. Management loves to hire proactive employees, and people who have some eagerness to them. I know this, because it’s what I look for when I interview people. But I also know this, because it’s always one of the most consistent pieces of feedback I get in my reviews. Show you want to be involved, and help out where necessary. If you have people asking you to pitch in on a project that doesn’t exactly align with your job description – pitch in anyway. You’ll show that you’re a team player and you may learn a thing or two as well. At the very least, you make a name for yourself with the work you create – and that doesn’t go unnoticed. Pave your own way, make yourself known, and get shit done. My first job out of college was, in no way, related to my degree – but when smaller projects started bubbling up that was, in fact, relevant to both my education and interests, you bet I jumped at the opportunity to take on the extra responsibility. That’s how I broke into the job market, in a high-demand field and an unforgiving economy.
In health. In most cases, you know what you’re capable of, and what you’re willing to endure. But if you find yourself with even the smallest temptation to switch things up, take someone up on their offer of a new fitness routine. About a year ago, I was asked to join a team for the Tough Mudder competition. It was never an item on my bucket list, and I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to survive. But, I figured I’d learn a thing or two about myself – whether I could physically and mentally push myself beyond my comfort zone. Not only did training for it build stronger relationships with the people on my team, but I watched myself progress in ways I never thought I could. Three words: upper body strength! Now, I’ve found my love and appreciation for a new form of exercise. And I can actually do a real push-up.
In experiences. Agree to attend an event you’d never blink an eye at on your own. You may find a hobby or interest you never even knew existed. Spend a little too much money to stay out way too late and drink a little bit too much at a new bar that’s sure to be overpriced and overpopulated. There’s always the morning after, when you question your actions and rip through the memories. Sure, it can get you into a whole mess of trouble – really, though, only very innocent trouble. Unless you’re one of those people who can’t find the metaphorical line between right and wrong; then, you’re on a whole different playing field – but sorting through that trouble is part of living. It’s part of defining your character, and rounding you out with those stories you can share.
So, the next time I find myself exhausted and frustrated and ready to throw in the towel as something unexpected pops up on my agenda, I’m going to remind myself of all the times I said ‘yes’ when I really didn’t want to. And, how in the past 27 years, I really can’t say that it ever proved to be the wrong response.