Last week, I took a freelance colleague of mine out to lunch, since it was her last day on the project. She told me about a cousin she and her husband are hosting in their house. He's trying to make a new start of it in the area and they were happy to help. Except now it's been several months more than they all originally thought it would be. He's not taking temp jobs, not really actively seeking out permanent employment and is basically being a drag on a pair of newlyweds who were just trying to offer the kind of support they hoped someone would offer them if they were in a similar situation.
During our conversation, my colleague told me that her cousin, who is 30, often complains to her that he doesn't have the degrees that she does - bachelor and post-grad - so he's not as marketable as she is and that's why he's not getting jobs. She was frustrated by this because even though she is degreed, he is prior military, which counts for a lot in the marketplace. Additionally, she has been busting hump looking for work in our field since she got her graduate degree, and having mixed success. Here's what struck me though: he's imprisoned himself with his negativity.
That got me thinking about how much and how often we define ourselves by what we are not (or what we have not) as opposed to what we are. I am not educated, married, a parent, accomplished in my field, living in the "right" town, wealthy enough, religious enough, traveled, fashionable, and so on and so on. There may be plenty of people who don't do this, but the majority of us do, that's why we're always impressed with the people in the world who accomplish things; they're not stopped by their own naysaying.
The silly thing about naysaying is that it shackles us to the very negatives we supposedly resent about ourselves. I can't do this, I'm too old. I can't do that, I don't have enough experience. Nobody would let me do this because I'm not "insert reason here." Anytime we think we can't because of some "no" hanging over us, we certainly can't, because we won't. We won't even give ourselves the opportunities to try and fail or try and succeed because we're too married to the "no" of our situation. I feel like I wasted a lot of my 20s because I told myself I was too old for some things or too inexperienced for other possibilities. And it was fucking stupid. I wasn't too old. I'm probably still not, but as long as I put that speed bump in front of myself, I couldn't proceed.
There are plenty of roadblocks we cling to that are largely beyond our control. For the last two years, my body has been telling me "no" about some things. And this last weekend, it shouted "HELL NO" at me. I don't know if or when it will ever give me a resounding and final "no." I'm hoping and praying not for some "yes" from my body. But I'm feeling very beat down, crushed and angry these days. Life can still be good even if my body ever gives me a definitive no, but right now I just don't know how. But I want to learn how to climb out of this hole I've been sliding deeper and deeper into. It hurts and there's a whole world of happiness out there, if I only remember how to find it. My body's telling me "no" has been impeding my happiness. I want to learn to live with the "no" and realize that there is still a pulsing, vibrant world of "yes" beyond this ugly shadow of "no" that hovers over me.
In the meantime, I want to start dispelling all the nos I've put upon myself all my life. I am exactly as pretty as I am. I am exactly as young as I am. I am exactly as talented as I am. There are aspects of my life I can control, and I want to work to be in charge of them. There are aspects of my life that I cannot control, and I want to work to not let them be in control of my happiness. I don't want to be a prisoner to my own insecurities anymore, the way my colleague's cousin is. It's self-defeating.