One false belief I used to hold tight was that my life had to be difficult. Life to me was a battle to get through, and I had to spend my days commuting to a job I hated, to make money to live, and to pay off my student loan debt. Those other people who didn’t take 9 to 5 office jobs were just different from me—they had more self-discipline, they didn’t need someone else imposing structure on them, they had more self-confidence to start their own businesses, for example, or so I thought. But if you’re lucky, hopefully one day you wake up and realize you don’t have to do shit. You’re not required to do any of this.
For me, one wake-up call happened after I had about a year sober, and I’d spent every day working at my marketing job, twice a week teaching English composition and literature at a local community college, and five nights a week at a support group meeting. And I was (doing a half-ass job of) planning my wedding. I was exhausted, and complained to one of my friends about how I had to do this and I had to do that, and going to meetings all the time was wearing me out. She stopped me and said, “You don’t have to do anything. This is a choice. If you don’t want to do this, don’t do it.”
Eventually I realized I didn’t want to do either of those jobs, and that no one was forcing me to go to meetings every single night. And I realized I didn’t want that marriage either, but that’s a whole nother story.
Now I’m not saying everyone should quit their job, leave their spouse, and stop going to meetings every night (if you do that). What I am saying is that you choose how you want to spend your time. And you choose what kind of attitude you want to have about it.
Today I don’t particularly feel like going to work. I’d rather have the day off and write all day. But I do like my job, and I like my co-workers, and I have plans to meet with friends afterwards, which I’m looking forward to. So one thing that helps me is to remember that, and also to say positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations seemed like total bullshit to me for a long time. You’re just lying to yourself all day, is what I thought.
But then finally one day I realized it doesn’t matter.
Whatever you believe is true, is true.
Today I believe I’m an incredibly lucky person who gets to spend time with interesting people who care about the world. I get to listen to the birds singing outside. I get to type these words on this page.
That doesn’t mean I won’t have sad or upsetting circumstances in my life. We will all have that because that’s just life. But I can choose how I want to react to those events that are out of my control. When something I don’t want to happen happens, or when something I want to happen doesn’t, I get to ask what I can learn and how I can grow from that situation.
This is the opposite of how I spent most of my life feeling. For years I felt unlucky, ungrateful, disappointed in adulthood and all the responsibilities it brought. Why did I have so much debt, why couldn’t I get a job I liked, why couldn’t I find a good man, when would I ever be happy and have a good life?
It feels funny to me now, reading that previous paragraph. Because here’s the thing: I am happy now, and I have a good life now, even after the saddest events of my life that happened over the last nine months. And it’s all because I have a new perspective. It’s also because I made changes in my life that weren’t suited for me. Some people might love working two jobs but hey, that’s just not for me. The point is, I figured out a way to live my life without needing two jobs. Hopefully that won’t change, but you never know. If it does, I will find a way to adjust. One thing I know about me is that I’m incredibly resilient.
What about you? What are your strengths? Once you get through something difficult, you can look back and see that you got through it, and you did the best you could at the time, which is all you can do. My mom used to tell me, Just do the best you can. That’s all you can do. Don’t compare yourself against others, but against an earlier version of yourself. If you’re beating yourself up for not doing something perfectly, stop. Ask yourself what you’d tell a good friend, a loved one, if they were going through a hard time. You’d probably speak to them gently, Hey, you did the best you could do. This too shall pass. Life gets better. It does not have to be hard. It’s only difficult if you insist on swimming upstream.
There are good things in store for me. And for you too. You’re worth it. Your life is worth it. You deserve all the good things that are coming. Remember the law of attraction. I told my best friend that I still wanted something that doesn’t appear to be very good for me, and she said, Don’t put that out there. It resonated with me. The best is yet to come. I deserve the good life that’s waiting for me, that’s right in front of my face. And so do you.
When you catch yourself stuck in negative thinking, stop. Ask yourself if this is really how you want to spend your time. Is this serving you? Those momentary feelings of satisfaction are nothing compared to the peace you feel when you learn to let it go.
I dedicate this song to my best friend, who recently graduated from acupuncture school and is starting a new phase of her journey. We’ve been through heaven and hell together over the last 23 years, and I’m so grateful to have her in my life, that we’ve grown together in a positive way. Love you, K!
Peace and love,