For reasons I cannot explain, when life gets all overwhelming good or overwhelming bad I get writer’s constipation. It’s like everything just flows at once and it gets tangled and backed up in there until nothing will come out.
I’m happy to report my writer’s constipation as of late is coming to you for good reasons. A person I just met a couple weeks ago turned to me the other day and said “you just look so happy and it’s really nice”. I didn’t even think a single sarcastic thought in their direction. The cheesy moment struck me as such for like a half-second and then I was struck by the fact that no one had said that to me in so long I couldn’t remember it. Radiating happiness. I remember once a potential love interest told me the thing he liked most about me was that when I got excited or was truly happy about something my eyes kind of shined or shouted the expression so there was no mistaking it. I’m pretty sure the unspoken bit here is that the same thing happens when I’m angry…
Anyways- to the point. The point is that I’d lost the shine. I talked about losing it. I talked about finding it. Turns out finding it even in glimpses is a continuous process that involves some of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I’ve surrendered myself to a step-by-step get happy program to toughen me up and soften my spirit.
Step 1: Begin Dating again. I know, YUCK. Believe me this was a challenge. It still is. Do guys not pay on first dates anymore? I don’t mean to get old school here- I’m all for equal rights- but I haven’t lost my love for a little chivalry. I WANT to be wined and dined a little at least on the first date. Is that weird?
Step 2: Present/Facilitate to a room full of people. I told my manager not long ago that I’ve always wanted to teach. It was the original plan. 5-year-old me was jazzed about it. 25-year-old me couldn’t seem to make sense of how to put myself in front of a room full of expectant faces and present. I was terrified. Someone told me that being terrified and nervous is very close to being excited and that it’s all about how you channel the energy. I get it. I really do. But when the fear of it is choking the words off and my heart is about to leap from my throat and onto the floor in front of everyone, I don’t know if that advice applies. Regardless, I stood in front of that room full of people and I talked through the terror. I made myself face it because I realized I’d never get anywhere if I didn’t. 5-year-old me thought it was pretty simple. Why does 25-year-old me have to make it complicated?
Step 3: Define what I want and go get it. Failure is this incredible thing that teaches so many lessons and crushes so much confidence all in one swoop. It’s all about the position it takes within the construct of the mosaic of life. It’s part of the journey either way- but how much face time does it get? How much influence does it hold?
Step 4: Be true to who I am. The other day I took this painting workshop and the teacher was demonstrating a technique that she admitted she doesn’t like the end result of very much. Many in the class shook their heads in agreement and made little ‘mmhmming’ noises. I waited until she was done and holding the piece up before I spoke. “I actually think it’s beautiful. I love it” I said and then laughed awkwardly like the little kid who insists on dressing themselves then puts their underwear on backwards and pretends its the most comfortable thing in the world. My motto for the last little while has been “you just keep doing you”. I mean it ironically when someone does something really stupid but I also mean it authentically. How many of us are truly being us every moment and giving ourselves permission to live comfortably within that world?
Step 5: Exercise. I’ve literally been marking trips to the gym into my calendar so that I am attending 2-3 times a week. I had a trainer set up this wonderful program for me (and also demonstrate thoroughly because exercise equipment freaks me out and he was cute) that he had me commit to doing 2-3 time each week. That sounded like nothing. I knew I could easily commit to that but the truth is it’s harder than I thought to find the time because when life gets busy my first instinct is to ditch the stuff that’s purely for my health and enjoyment. My head and my heart feel better when I make the time and if I’m honest with myself it doesn’t seem like such an effort
I don’t really have the perfect formula. I’ve looked fear in the face and let myself be terrified of meeting someone for a first date, or standing in front of a room full of people and presenting while trying to hang on to their interest while doing my very best not to read directly off the page. I’ve surprised myself by doing the things I was sure I couldn’t. I don’t have all the answers but I’ve just celebrated a quarter century of my life and I want the next quarter century to be overcome with greatness. .