Ever since I turned thirty, I’ve created lots of change in my life:
- Quit smoking
- Adopted a puppy!
- Changed my career direction (twice)
- Moved across the country (and then back)
- Spent a month in Bali
It’s so easy to share only a highlight reel of life—and I’ve noticed that sometimes I feel like a total fraud when I post a picture on social media of something beautiful and amazing, or write a post about slowing down and meditating. Because in real life, I know that things aren’t perfect. Social media feeds are like a highlight reel of life and writing about something that’s helped me doesn’t mean I do it 24/7.
The biggest thing I’ve learned about making change that really lasts is that it usually requires total vulnerability and humility—which really translates to being okay with making mistakes, but moving forward anyway. Because at the end of the day, I will always have a clean bed to sleep in, food in my mouth, and people to love—and those are the things that really matter!
Radical humility is: a far-reaching, total and comprehensive sense of modesty, humbleness, and surrender. Basically, understanding that for every awesome thing, there’s a few not-so-awesome things that come along with it.
I wanted to share some of my “radically humble” moments that came along with some of my most positive changes:
The truth is this took me about 11 attempts over the span of a 11 years. I would quit, last a month or two, and fall right back into it. I saw a hypnotist, a therapist, an energy healer, read books promising to help me quit tomorrow, and tried the patch, the gum and literally everything under the sun. But it wasn’t until I made up my mind that I actually did it.
The physical withdrawal from going cold turkey wasn’t pleasant, to say the least. But I realized by giving up smoking I was actually taking back my health. And it’s super humbling to admit you have an addiction. It made me feel powerless to know I’d become hooked on these little paper sticks filled with chemicals.
Adopting a puppy!
My little fur babe is one of the happiest parts of my life, but our first day and night together were both adorable and terrifying. I brought her to the park and she fell asleep in my lap like such a sweet nugget:
And then she was up all night, crying and moaning because she was in a new place and didn’t know who the hell I was. I ended up sleeping on the floor with my hand in her crate. We were both miserable and I remember thinking: what have I done?
She’s the happiest creature in the world and she has brought me lots of radical humility. She’s the first little being I’ve been responsible for in this world, and she humbles me everyday when I have to follow her around with a little plastic bag wherever we go 🙂
Changing my career direction (twice)
I switched from advertising to working in nonprofits—and I poured every piece of myself into that work. Like, I crossed all the boundaries you aren’t supposed to cross. I wanted to save the world, starting with the city of Chicago, all by myself. This didn’t end well. I totally burned myself out.
Luckily, I’d been working (on the side) doing freelance projects, because one cannot survive on a part-time nonprofit salary (even two of them!) I formalized my creative consulting “projects” and created my own real life, living and breathing business.
It is completely terrifying to decide to do your own thing and not know if it’ll even work. There were so many nights I spent hoping and praying that I wasn’t making the biggest mistake of my life. Most of my days (and nights) looked like this:
After many months of long hours and constant stress, I had a healthy client base. And then I landed a total dream opportunity working for a woman I totally admire. But it was a humble, rocky road with lots of long nights to get to the here and now.
Moving across the country (and back)
This would be the hardest jagged little pill (thanks Alanis!) I had to swallow. Long story short, I’d always wanted to live in California at some point in my life. Since I was able to work from anywhere, I decided to try out the Bay Area. But I pretty quickly realized it wasn’t the right fit for me, even though I really wanted it to be.
Especially because I had a surprise going-away party with my entire family and had told everyone I knew I was moving to California. So a huge part of me wanting it to work was led by my ego. I didn’t want to admit I’d failed. But I had to get over myself and came home 3 months later to say: Whoops! Just kidding, thanks for the going away party – but the surprise is on you, I’m back!!! But at the end of the day, everything happens for a reason and I’m grateful for the opportunity (and the surprise party!) either way.
Spending a month in Bali
There is really no downside to spending a month in Bali (at all!) It was the most restorative, amazing slice of heaven I have yet to experience. Total bliss and relaxation. I’m definitely dying to go back.
I signed up for a yoga retreat, which I thought sounded really zen. A few days before it kicked off, I learned that it was a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training—which involved 6+ hours of yoga per day in a hut, with a vow of silence each morning and lots of circle time with soul sisters. I had taken (maybe) 5 yoga classes before this. Like in my life, total. I landed in Bali and thought: there’s just no f*cking way. This place is too beautiful and I can barely do an hour of yoga a year, let alone 6 per day! I want to relax. I want to enjoy. I don’t wanna cry in a hut.
So I had a little dilemma on my hands. Amazing opportunity, but I knew that if I stuck with the retreat, I’d be miserable and wasting my precious time in this beautiful place. When was I ever going to have weeks in Bali to myself again?! So I gracefully bowed out of the retreat and found a plan B, literally the day after I posted this on (all) my social media accounts:
Basically, my main point is sometimes things can look picture perfect when they’re really pretty imperfect. A big part of all the change in my life has been getting past my ego, following what I know is right for me, and making some mistakes and then re-routing. One thing I know is: I’ve always gotta make a change when shit isn’t working. Life is too short not to! But sometimes, that means taking one for the team—a.k.a. willingly undertaking a not-so-pleasant experience, humbly, so you can end up somewhere better than before.
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