You can say that I’m living the dream. It has been a year since graduation and in that year I’ve moved to Chicago to work for the world’s top public relations agency. I live in a one-bedroom apartment in a beautiful neighborhood. I pay my own bills (including school loans). I’ve made fantastic friends. I go to brunch. Yes, I’m living the dream. A dream that I’ve worked my whole academic life to achieve. So, this is why I worked so hard. So, this is why I made the choices I made. So, this is it.
But, this is not enough.
You see, I ‘m the kind of person that’s never satisfied. I’m my own worst critic. I actually cringed a little bit writing that first paragraph because while all of that is true, it reeked of humble-braggedness (yes, I made up this word) plus rarely do I ever take time to reflect on how blessed I really am. It wasn’t until my 9-year-old sister told me on the phone the other day that I was her “role model” that I actually began to feel like I’ve done some good in the world. I’ve always looked outwardly for role models, never really identifying myself as one, but, damn, if the smartest kid I know wants to be like me then I must be doing something right.
I tend to focus more on fixing weaknesses than appreciating strengths. Obviously this isn’t the healthiest mind-set.
For me, it is always about what more can I do? What does the next level look like? Am I doing enough? What isn’t working here?
Maybe I’m paranoid, but I like to have multiple hustles. Sure, I have a full-time job, but I also freelance write and work occasionally at a neat stationary shop called GREERChicago. I have an innate fear of only being associated with one group or one thing. That’s probably why I never felt a desire to join a sorority. I’m a floater by nature, so being anchored by one group never really appealed to me. It’s probably why my resume looks like a game of “connect the dots.” How does one work experience connect with the other? And, how the hell did I end up in public relations despite concentrating in legal communications. Paranoia, that’s why.
My innate fear of only being associated with one group or one thing is tied into my greatest ultimate fear: not living up to my full-potential.
I’m not a big sports buff, but I am a big fan of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries. I binge-watch them on Netflix. Not only are they extremely well-made, but they all speak to this idea of potential whether in regards to meeting, surpassing or falling short of one’s expected potential. The internal and external pressures faced by athletes to live up their full-potential is an inherently human plight. While I am in no way an athlete I can relate.
There’s a door in my apartment building that clearly says “pull,” but when you pull on the door it doesn’t open. Turns out, you’re actually meant to push the door. Generally, fear is an emotion that pulls us back, but in some cases fear can actually push us forward. Just like that door there are some things in life that won’t operate the way are “supposed” to. We ask for signs to help aid our decision making, but sometimes the signs we are presented with aren’t necessarily the right ones. Sometimes we just have to operate by instinct. If our instincts tell us to push forward then why should we follow directions from signs telling us to pull back?
This is where I’m at right now. I’m facing signs telling me to do this, do that, be this, be that. But, my instincts say otherwise. My instincts say that if I follow my passions then I will eventually to live up to my full-potential because my potential resides within my passions.
So, what’s the moral of this admitted stream of consciousness? Don’t wait for a sign to tell you how to move forward. Trust your instincts. If you are doing things rooted by a passion then you will make great strides towards living up to your full-potential as defined by you, not others. If you’re afraid of what’s next then use that fear to fuel you. Use that fear to push you forward instead of pull you back. Above all, take time to appreciate your strengths and accomplishments, but don’t stop ’til you get enough.