Eager anticipation is one of the best feelings in the world. And my god, there are so many things in life we relish in anticipating.
The glass of wine, freshly poured. Warm pyjamas, straight from the dryer. The start of a New Year….a new decade…..a new beginning.
But what’s fascinating about anticipation, is that, when it comes down to it……anticipation is simply storytelling. Foreshadowing. Forecasting. And our own projections into the future.
Anticipation is like a glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day. It’s evil twin? The flip side of the coin? That’d be anxiety. Which is much more like a snowball to the face in the dead of winter.
Anxiety is storytelling just the same. But with a negative plot twist. Fear runs the show. And there is a kind of…..mistrust…..of the future, created in our own minds.
Future-traipsing can be glorious and thrilling and full of excitement…..or it can be a dangerous game that sets us up for shattered expectations…..or worse yet, a state of mind that paralyzes us with inaction.
But when do we choose to linger in anticipation….and when do we choose to linger in anxiety? When do we choose heads, instead of tails….or tails instead of heads?
The human tendency to hop aboard the forethought train has served our ancestors well. Back in our caveman days, we needed to strategize our own safety, prevent against surprise sabre-tooth tiger attacks, and forage our food for the upcoming winter.
Fast forward to the era of smart phones, convenience stores, and Cheez Wiz…..and things look a little less…..life or death. Yet our brains haven’t quite caught up. And we’re still very much in self-preservation mode.
I would hedge my bets that even in this day and age, most of us choose anxiety more often than we choose eager anticipation. Some ancient instinct that refuses to unclench its grip from our minds.
And yet, “the moment before” things happen doesn't have to be a scary place. In fact, is it not equally plausible that things will go well, as it is that they go horribly wrong?
Why then, in this time and place, do we continually choose “worst case scenario” thinking? Why do our brains neeeeeeed to come up with a story at all?
Just the other day, I was at the ballet with my daughter, Clara. It was her very first time at The Nutcracker, and she was dressed to the nines in her pink tutu….high on candy canes and chocolate kisses from her Christmas stocking. On our way up to the balcony, we were handed our program, and as we flipped through it, I saw the long-winded synopsis of the ballet we were about to see.
Huh. I thought to myself. Do I read it to her, so she can follow along with the story as it unfolds…..or do I just let her experience the ballet without any preconceptions? I chose not to read it to her. And instead, I just let it all come as a surprise.
She loved every minute of it. And when it was over, as we shuffled to our car amidst the sea of little girls with big dreams to become ballerinas one day….I started to think about the ways that I try to write a synopsis of my life, before it happens…..just so I can feel a little less….caught off guard.
I started to think about the stories I tell myself, and how often they involve an evil villain, or a fall-from-grace. And I started to wonder about the idea of letting my life come more as a surprise.
All too often, I look at the present moment with a foreboding sense of fear, rather than joy. Which is, essentially, robbing me of the bliss of anticipation. What if I chose to get excited about the unknown? Like a gift I’m just about to unwrap.
A beautiful, deep, soulful romantic relationship could be just around the corner.
A book deal could be ready to knock on my front door.
A new client could be one conversation away from saying “hell yes!”
A sexy blue-eyed masterpiece of a man, sitting across from me at Starbucks, could interrupt this very sentence I’m writing, and say……”excuse me…..I couldn’t help but notice how drop dead gorgeous you are. It would kill me if I couldn’t take you out to dinner tonight.”
And Jesus. Why couldn’t it happen? In which case…..I should be PUMPED about what’s about to take place.
And so on those days when I start to sink into fear, is it not a wise choice to take a peak at the stories I’m telling myself…..and shatter the lies that cause my jaw to tighten, and my shoulders to reach for my ears?
I’m not ready. I’ve never done this before. It’s too risky.
All lies I’ve told myself before. And the kind of lies that cast a scary shadow over the future.
Calm patience. Enjoyment in the wonder. The what if. The possibility. The precipice. It’s a work in progress. And something to aim for.
And so as we round the corner on 2019, I think about all of the goals and dreams I have for the future. And I try to harness this sense of excitement that always seems to kick in at the turn of a year. Remembering that just as the years turn, so too do the days. And rather than brace for danger, I seek to choose eager anticipation. Letting life surprise me at every turn.
Your heart will never race faster than in the moment you are about to kiss someone for the first time.
It’s a gamble. A leap. Like playing with fire. Or skating on thin ice.
I can remember the pure exhilaration of my first kiss. It was at the end of my parents drive-way. And it was of those summer nights when you can still be outside in a tank top, even though the sun is long gone.
Steve was dropping me off after a trip to the movie theatre, and as we sauntered towards each other, I can remember my palms being an absolute mess of sweat and buttery popcorn grease.
Does he like me? Oh god. I like him. What if he thinks I’m an awful kisser? Jesus. Do I lean in, or wait for the lean? What the fuck do I do with my hands? Shit. What if I step on his toes? For fuck’s sake. How long should it last?
The kiss itself was all tongue and teeth. A spectacle of pure beginner’s awkwardness. But regardless….it was amazing. And electrifying. And just right.
You never forget those moments of truly putting yourself out there. Times when things could go one of two ways: Pure magic. Or rejection.
And being a newly single woman, I get to experience the rush of adolescent “does he like me” in all its glory. At 36.
Having married my high-school sweetheart, I never really “dated.” And so this whole crazy upside world of seduction is entirely new to me.
But let me tell you. “Get to” is said with a bit of “tongue-in-cheek” sassiness.
The sting of rejection can be absolutely brutal.
And what I am slowly learning, is that the more I take it personally, the worse it is.
I have absolutely had my fair share of feeling not good enough. Insufficient. And unworthy. I have wallowed in fuck-you feistiness, defensive as all get-out. Lying in a puddle of my own tears, coddling my bruised ego.
And guys, healing from heartbreak is SUCH a journey.
But putting myself in a place of potential rejection is really the only way to ignite the fireworks.
Being an entrepreneur, I taste the bitter pill of rejection in my career as well. And let me tell you. There are days when something as simple as a “No, I can’t make it to class tomorrow.” Will throw me into a tailspin of “I’m not good enough.”
Then I smile. And say to myself….“suck it up buttercup. This isn’t a personal attack on you.”
And truly.....it is the ability to possess an unwavering belief in the value of ourselves, and what we have to offer, that is the difference-maker between those who succeed, and those who do not.
Just the other day, I watched a TED Talk called “What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection.” Jia Jing spent 100 days putting himself out there in different ways. Deliberately seeking rejection.
And you know what he learned?
That rejection, so often, ISN’T EVEN ABOUT YOU.
After going up to a stranger’s front door, and asking him if he could plant a flower in his backyard, Jia got an immediate “no.”
But instead of running away and wallowing in self-defeat, he asked “why not?”
The man said that he had a dog that would likely dig it up….and he actually suggested to go across the street to his neighbour’s house to see if she might like the flower….because well, she was much more into gardening than him.
And so he did. And the neighbour accepted his offer.
“Had I left after the initial rejection, I would have thought it was because the guy didn’t trust me, or because he thought I was crazy or wasn’t dressed well enough. It was none of those those things. It was because what I offered, didn’t fit with what he wanted.”
My god. If only I could remind myself of that more often. What I have to offer is amazing. It is uniquely me. It is beautiful in and of itself. And sometimes, that’s exactly what someone else is looking for.
But even with this knowledge, I struggle.
Because I think as human beings, we are hardwired to connect. Rejection cuts so deep because it makes us question where we fit in. And Jesus. If we aren't good enough to get a “yes,” where does that leave us?
As social beings, we we crrrrraaave acceptance. And getting rejected feels like the opposite of belonging.
MRI studies show that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection, as when we experience physical pain. So yes. Rejection hurts. Neurologically speaking.
But through the pain, I can still see that there is no reward without the possibility of rejection.
Some of my sweetest successes stem from moments when I could have either won the entire showcase showdown…..or gone home with confetti on my shoulder and tears on my face.
(Side note. I’ve never actually been on The Price is Right. But if I was, it would be THE highlight of my life. As long as Bob Barker was the host. And I was a Barker’s Beauty. Not a contestant).
It is so much safer to go for the “sure bet.” But who wants the mediocrity of the thing that requires no effort, energy, or risk?!
Rejection is not a character assassination. It is a mismatch in values. And if that truly is the case, then should we not celebrate the opportunity to “get it right?”
Staying in your comfort zone will never lead you to the game-winning on-the-buzzer three-pointer. Because dude. You’ve gotta throw the ball from across the court to even stand a chance at nailing it.
And when it comes to our health, I think SO many people just linger in the familiar, out of the fear of ridicule from others. We have nightmare memories of being picked last for the recess soccer game. And we fear embarrassment.
Putting yourself out there is SCARY. But the rewards are so worth the risks.
And so as I practice my sexy winks, and coy smiles, I try to stay grounded in who I am. Knowing that I’ve got a KILLER kitchen dance party goin’ on. And if you ain’t into my tune-age, that’s totally cool.
Vancouver is one of THE most heavenly places on earth. Majestic mountains. A killer culinary scene. And a high likelihood of running into Ryan Reynolds.
And yet….despite these incredible perks….it is also the city in which I lived through “apartment hell.”
I had just graduated from UBC, and I was looking for a small 1-bedroom, close to the skytrain line. I was on a budget, and so as you can imagine, I was JACKED to find a basement suite for $500 a month. All in.
I jumped at this “steal of a deal” and moved in within a few weeks…..only to discover that……things were a little too good to be true.
First, it was the incessant vacuuming from the floor above. Three times a day. And sometimes at crazy hours of the night.
Then it was the constant arguing from the suite next door, in a language I couldn’t understand (I’m guessing one or two of those arguments was about the habitual porn watching that was going on. Which……I could also hear).
Cue the crying baby. Who….must have been teething. All of his teeth at once.
Aaaaaannnnd top it all off with the crazy guy next door, who kept warning me that the KGB was spying on us. Every one of our conversations was allegedly being recorded.
It was a tough slog. Yet, somehow I stayed for almost 2 years.
Why? I have an uncanny ability to “stick it out” when the going gets tough.
And I had a clear goal. I wanted to save as much money as I could. And I was willing to trudge through whatever it took to do so.
And guys, the ability to hold strong…..the ability to endure, no matter what…..it is a key element of success. In whatever you do.
You want to be successful? The strategy is simple. Do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do: push through the dip.
The dip…..that moment when you start to think…..it would be so much easier just to throw in the towel right now.
And whether it’s working out, eating well, getting up early, meditating, learning how to play the guitar, or building a relationship…..
You push through the dip? You’ll achieve the results that most people will never see.
Take ultra marathon runner Dick Collins, for instance. How does a guy like that keep going, despite fatigue, hunger, cramps, dehydration, and sheer exhaustion?
“Decide before the race the conditions that will cause you to stop and drop out. You don’t want be out there saying, ‘Well gee, my leg hurts, I’m a little dehydrated, I’m sleepy, I’m tired, and it’s cold and windy.’ And talk yourself into quitting. If you are making a decision based on how you feel in that moment, you will probably make the wrong decision.”
And that’s it right there.
All too often, we make decisions based on how we FEEL IN THE MOMENT. Rather than what we want in the long-term.
And so, if you want success, you need to find clarity on what your goals are FIRST. Chart your course. THEN embark on your journey. And know ahead of time that it ain’t gonna be smooth sailing to get there.
It’s about taking action even when in that very moment…..you don’t feel like it. Because…..aha!…..this is the hard part.
It is human nature to want to choose the familiar….the convenient….the easy. But if you are someone who truly wants to adventure through this life with everything you have, and become the BEST version of yourself…..you need to embrace the long-game, and stop doing what everyone else is doing: taking the path of least resistance.
Understand this. The dip is coming. It is inevitable. And it won’t be fun. But guys, it is part of the climb. And it is the part where almost everyone gives up. If you can push through it, you will reap the rewards.
And hey, along the way, you may even inadvertently acquire the filthiest dirty-talk vocabulary known to man (which may or may not then lead you to seriously consider launching a dirty-talk greeting card line).
Maybe not all dips are as bad as they first appear to be.
In my early 20s, I was all about KFC.
It was the ultimate greasy reward on a Friday night, after an intense week of University coursework. And I loved every finger-lickin’ moment of it.
I was an English major. But don’t box me in. I took Astronomy 101.
And I only rarely had to pull out my prank glasses with open eyes painted on the lenses.
University is a slog.
And I am 100% convinced that a diploma simply represents one’s ability to “stick it out,” rather than knowledge acquired.
Ask me what I remember about the solar system.
The professor chewed gum.
That’s what I remember.
It is an experiment in endurance. And he who is willing to loose the most sleep, wins.
Endurance is rare. Yet enthusiasm is common.
Which means……there are MANY people who start things…..yet only a few who finish them. And in life, long term consistency beats short-term eagerness. Every time.
In fact, Steve Jobs once said, “about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from non-successful ones, is pure perseverance.”
What really matters, is staying with something, even after the initial honeymoon flush is over.
And trust me guys, the irony is not lost on me. This wisdom is coming at you from a divorcee.
But at the end of the day, I’m not willing to constitute the end of a 20-year relationship as a lack of endurance. And also…….I’m not perfect. Far from it, actually.
It could be argued that endurance is genetic. However, we can’t ever discount the power of our own minds.
My son Liam has a penchant for endurance. In fact, just the other day he challenged his sister to a 3-lapper around the entire park. She fell half way into lap 1 and burst into sensational tears. She has a penchant for melodrama.
I think some of us are simply WILLING to endure with more intensity than others. And WILL is absolutely something that can be strengthened over time.
Behind the glitz and glamour of success…..is boredom, loneliness, and feelings of discouragement.
And guys, the extent of our success is directly related to the extent of our willingness to endure pain.
Success has a price tag. And the fee is not paid in “I’ll give it a try” coinage.
You want to “get there?” Go all in. Commit to mastery. And stop being a dabbler who dabbles the shit out of every dabble-able thing.
I think the reason some of us fail to endure, is that we are simply unwilling to give something EVERYTHING we have. Because if we do…..and STILL fail? It’s a tough pill to swallow.
If we only dabble, and our project goes up in flames…..we have an out. “It was just a little something I wanted to try.”
Success comes with tenacity. Grit. And a WILLINGNESS to keep going.
Be choosey about what you pour your energy into. And then take no prisoners.
Even if Colonel Sanders is the one barking orders at you from behind enemy lines.
When I was a little girl, I longed to feel special. I was the third of three daughters in my family. And so by the time I came around, there was a real sense of…..been there done that….in the air.
I craved adventure. And in the white suburban neighbourhood I grew up in, my friends and I created our own high-stakes drama, biking from park to park, narrowly escaping the “bad guys” who were always hot on our tail.
I can remember shopping with my mom at Zellers one afternoon, bored out of my mind, when I decided to limp around as if my right leg was broken. I longed for sympathetic looks from strangers…..or better yet, an utterance of “poor girl” under someone’s breath.
I wanted attention. Bad.
And by grade 7, I can remember wanting to be “the popular girl” so bad, I got my mom to blow dry and style my hair every single morning….rollers and all…with a magazine cut-out of Jennifer Aniston taped to the bathroom wall, for inspiration.
In retrospect, I sometimes wonder how much I was looking for love and affection from the outside world, in order to battle the inner critic that lived deep inside me.
“You’re not good enough,” my own voice would say.
Over and over again. In a myriad of ways.
Having a daughter, I secretly fear having passed along the self-doubt gene to her, crossing my fingers that she never loses the unwavering belief she has in herself, as a super-hero.
I ask her the question, “what makes you feel loved, sweetheart?”
She thinks about it, then says….. “hugs and kisses from you, mom.”
Her answer makes my heart melt.
But then I start to think…..Uh-oh. What if she starts to rely on the attention and affection of others, in order to feel good about herself?
I quickly forget this train of thought as she finishes her answer with a light-hearted giggle: “I also reeeeallly love sleep.”
I’d love to say that upon coming face to face with my own personal negative nelly, I lived happily ever after, nary a “you suck at this” in sight.
That bitch is a persistent one. And she shows up at the party, already wasted, sweater slipping off her shoulder, smeared mascara…..just when you least expect it.
You want “I’m not good enough” at max volume?
Go through a break-up.
Ya. That storm is one that’ll have you doubting even the qualities you thought were your greatest strengths.
But something I’ve really learned over the past year is that we always have the opportunity to reframe, and it is our self-criticism and feelings of inadequacy that act as our own prison.
Apparently, Leonardo Da Vinci was extremely hard on himself throughout his entire career as an artist. He’d abandon projects half-way through, convinced that they were complete garbage.
Until it was recommended to him to look at his work in a mirror.
By looking at the reflection of his painting (rather than looking at it straight on), he could be much more objective, and judge his work as if he were seeing it for the first time.
And it’s the same with our own minds.
Sometimes we simply need to take a step back, and distance ourselves from our own thoughts in order to see them from a different perspective.
And so when Halsey’s Bad At Love is tormenting me, and I’m starting to doubt my own light, my own beauty, my own ability to love deeply enough…….I reframe.
I tell myself three simple words.
I am learning.
Calm rushes over me.
I am learning so much.
And I am giving myself time to strengthen my skills.
Patience is a virtue, they say.
And in this case, they’re right.
With each stumble, I am gaining insight into who I am, what I want, and how best to get there.
Whether it’s in love, in business, or in health.
We rise. We fall. We rise.
Imperfection is part of the game of life. As is the “Climb Mount Everest” square…..which I always found to be a little unlikely, even for Hasbro.
And so, as if looking at my life from the other side (and not in a creepy Stranger Things kind of way…..that shit is fuuuuuucked up), I try to let go of negativity as best I can.
We have the power and ability to change our thoughts.
And there’s no need to break our own legs to do it.