Taylor Swift is everywhere these days. And man does the girl write catchy lyrics that seem to encapsulate a piece of advice for everything.
Just this past Friday night when we were doing a team building exercise with our U17s and were doing public speaking practice, one of them said about how girls would talk behind your back if you acted proud about what you had accomplished.
It just spilled out of my mouth: “as our good friend Taylor Swift says, the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…”
It’s hard being this witty with such poignant lyrics to spring from.
Ok so that being said, maybe because there is just a plethora of Taylor lately, and I’ve been on my usual existential mind wander about life and what it holds, I have realized something curious, as I think about the future, and I subsequently woke up this morning with this blog title in my head.
For a girl that has always beat to her own drum, I’m actually kind of surprised with myself, as I realized these last few days, that for someone so usually strong in this regard, that when I looked into the future, I have found that I am guiding myself (kicking and screaming) towards a future that I felt like I “should” have. Even if every bone in my body feels like it’s leading towards a death march.
Society and the marketing that surrounds us has always done an amazing job of making us think that we don’t have a blank page. That there is a script and we should follow it, and a black and a white and that’s just the way it is.
We’re weird, we’re missing out, we’re not “normal” if we don’t do what everyone else is doing, and it’s such an easy trap to fall in to.
Of course, following those scripts can for sure lead to a lot of wonderfully happy people, but at the same time, I would venture to say that it also leads to far more unhappy people and unfulfilled potential.
Yet the sad thing is that most people don’t realize that we all have a blank page, that the only rules that exist and the people who push them, are the ones that likely have never had the confidence to go out and do something different on their own or have something to gain by trying to push the masses into a herd beating to the same drum, not feeling that there is any choice in the matter.
While I’ve always for the most part enjoyed and relished the freedom of my blank page, I also realized that I’ve been feeling like my window of “life fun” (aka for me which means, learning, traveling, experiencing) is coming to an end because it’s the time and age “to settle down”…whatever that means. I’ve been unhappy trying to shove myself into that box and worrying about living in that box over the last few years. In some ways soccer has represented to me, freedom from that box, and I think why the thought of life without it has petrified me.
Yet these last few days, I’ve realized, the only person putting these constraints on me, is myself. An empowering realization and exciting when I think about the possibilities that lie ahead and not having to fit into any preconceived stereotypes about how to live my life in any capacity.
Here’s a few pieces of advice I would give anyone contemplating how to fill their blank page, after a lot of time mulling over the same subject.
1) If money was no object, is this (how I’m living my life) what I would be doing?
Everyone’s first reaction to that question I think is, um, duh, I would be lying on a Caribbean beach, with a margarita and a personal chef waiting in the wings.
But would you?
I think just off the top of my head, I know a lot of mom’s that get very little sleep and are exhausted that wouldn’t trade their little people for all the Caribbean beaches in the world, or someone that has reached their dream job that they work 80 hours a week passionately doing, that feel far more stoked about it than sipping all day on a margarita.
But for someone trying to go back through the layers and listen to what that little voice is saying, I think the best way to find what makes your heart sing, is asking yourself if money was no object where would you like to be living and what would you like to be doing.
It’s a good place to start to build off of and where I have started to find my answers.
2) Ask yourself the question: Why Not?
So you have the vision in your head and you can see where you would be in your life if money was no object and you had no other constraints, and right away our negative instincts kick in, and every reason starts to come at us as to why this can’t happen:
I have responsibilities
I’ll upset this person and that person
I won’t find another job and I’ll lead myself towards financial ruin
It’s too unconventional
Instead of asking why, or how, just ask yourself the question, Why Not?
That question allows yourself to instigate a really cool life force.
Instead of excuses stifling your creative energy, your mind opens and expands and you start problem solving and getting the answers to figure out what makes your heart sing, and how to make that happen.
You find other people that are there and willing to help or cover your responsibilities and it actually makes their life better in some way.
You realize that no matter what you do, you always are going to upset other people, and you can spend your whole life worrying about it, or trust that they will be ok and do what makes you feel fulfilled.
And you realize that there is always more money to be had, but time and health is a finite resource that should be treasured and treated accordingly.
3) Limitations are other people’s insecurities manifested
When I was a junior in college, I decided to stop drinking for an extended period of time (that ended up lasting years, but that’s another blog).
I woke up one Sunday morning ruminating on some of my idiotic actions from the night before that had been fueled by alcohol, I felt sick and hungover, and realized the only reason I was drinking the way I was, was because everyone else was, which has always been a stupid reason to do anything in my mind.
So I decided that for an extended period of time I would stop drinking and try and get some clarity.
And then the weirdest thing happened.
I started going to parties, joking around and having fun, but not holding a matching red Solo cup to everyone else. And people started to seriously trip out.
Do you want something to drink?
I’ll buy you a drink (something rarely heard from impoverished college students).
The more I said no, the more people pressured me in every form they could to drink with them.
I couldn’t figure out this phenomenon, the pressurers’ motivation and the insecurity that seemed so apparent by my different choice. But the only thing that I could come up with, was that in some way the fact that I was showing that there was another choice to be made, brought out the insecurity of their choices and maybe even the fact that it was a choice that they too could say no to.
It made me realize that as humans, we get a great sense of comfort and validation in whatever we choose to do, by having others around us doing the same thing. And for those of us seeing other people making choices that maybe we don’t or didn’t have the courage to make, causes us to try and subconsciously change their mind so they are in the same place that we are.
It’s a lesson that I’ve seen more and more as I’ve gotten older in every kind of capacity. I had a friend that brought up my age every chance he got, that bothered me til I realized that it was his own insecurity about his own age that he was projecting on to me. I have seen the most homophobic people that a few years later ended up being gay, and people that hated on other people’s ambitions being the very ones that didn’t follow through with their own.
At the end of the day, anyone that has made brave choices for happiness and/or that are truly happy themselves, will always raise and empower everyone around them to do the same without placing any chains around anyone else’s neck.
Don’t let other people hold you back in any way from choices that could lead you to being fulfilled.
4) 1-2-3 Jump
Where I grew up in Vancouver, there is a little spot called Granny’s Cove that all the kids where I live go cliff jumping. The height isn’t too death defying, but it’s high enough that you see many people stand on the ledge for long minutes before deciding to turn away and walk back down. It doesn’t help also that if you have the balls to jump in, your reward is landing in water that has come down the river from the local glacier.
When I’m scared about doing anything, going to a foreign country, telling someone how I feel about them, walking into a room full of strangers, I always tell myself, 1-2-3 jump.
The fear often lies in just having the courage to take the leap but once you go for it, exhilaration from conquering your fear is the most prominent emotion.
Sure, when you land in that water, for a few seconds you can’t catch your breath because, well that’s what glacier water does. But that being said, I’ve never once jumped at Granny’s Cove and thought, man I wish I didn’t do that. You always have to ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen.
More often than not the worst thing that could happen? You don’t jump and will be wondering what would have happened if you had, missing out on an experience and never seeing what the water below could hold.
Just like in life, of course, there is always the possibility that you are going to fail, or that there may be a few parts of that blank page that you’ve written a story on that needs the ending re-worked or a few things crossed out.
Recognize that every day we wake up is a blank page to be treasured. And no matter what anyone wants you to think or feel, realizing that you hold a pen in your hand, that is waiting for you to write the most amazing story is the most incredible gift you could give yourself.
And maybe by filling your blank page you’ll find a Love Story or have some Teardrops on your Guitar or deal with people who are Mean or go on your dream trip and hear someone yell, “Welcome to New York”.