I’ve been watching a lot of Oprah’s Lifeclass and Visionaries and essentially everything else on OWN, and two messages constantly repeat themselves. One is dealing with fear and the other has to do with success. In terms of fear, that’s something I think and write about all the time. But when I think about what would I really do if I wasn’t afraid, the answer is write. Write the book, write the screenplay, write on this blog. This morning I was watching the webcast of one of Oprah’s Life Class with Iyanla Vanzant and she said that unless you’re living to the point where you’re so scared that you have pee running down your legs, you’re living too small. And while that’s extreme, it’s not a total exaggeration. And then she ended with, the worst thing that happens is that you’re right back where you started and you already know how to deal with that. And that’s some real talk I can get with. Worst case, I’m right back here writing every day in private and sporadically online.
The second has to do with success. Last night I was watching James Cameron’s Visionaries and he was talking about how he didn’t get into movies (or any of his other endeavors) to make money and that he’d still make movies/advocate/scuba dive even if he didn’t make money. I’ve heard this over and over, especially on this network where I think people speak much more candidly. So many crazy successful (and now rich people) all say they started doing something that they love and then the money came. This isn’t surprising to me, I guess it’s that I don’t know many people in real life who are doing what they really love to do. I know a lot of people who are doing things to pay the bills or who are doing things because it’s what they’re “supposed” to do, but I know very few people who love what they do.
This is becoming increasingly important to me as I focus more on my own happiness and am approaching a time in life where I have to decide what I’m going to do next. Yes I’m going to need to make a certain amount of money to pay bills, but for the past two years I’ve been thinking of my next job only in terms of money. I’ve even said “I will do anything to make enough money to pay my student loans off.” But the more I think of having another job that I hate going to and resent, the more I know that it’s fear that has me talking crazy and that I need to take a step back and make a smart decision here. I haven’t exactly figured out what it is just yet, but I have started to change the way I think about it (which I suppose is the first step).
Today I decided to stop worrying.
All that worrying had gotten me was less peaceful sleep, when I could, and that was starting to mess up my skin and the last thing I wanted to do was start the week with messed up skin. Besides, I had been worrying for a little over two weeks faithfully and nothing was really changing.
I was worried about a paper that I had all summer. In the beginning I thought “Hey I have all summer, I’m going to take a little time to relax and then I’m going to bust this bad boy out.” By July I start thinking “I’d better get cracking on this paper.” Then disaster struck, well disaster by dissertation standards – my results were totally not doing what I wanted them to. I had to go back and check what I had actually done and think about how I can salvage my intro and lit review. Although the paper with the funky data wasn’t the same paper for class, it used the same data set and most of the same variables. Surely my class paper was going to be ruined too.
When I finally stopped worrying, I ran the data for class and that worked out fine. Now to write the paper. Ugh, the hard part. So I started and then came to the part that actually mattered to the class – interpreting odds ratios (aka the results section). This was when worry turned to panic. I began to imagine getting my first F ever in life in grad school. I contemplated dropping the class (but I’ve never been a quitter). Or doing something that is totally logically but that I never do. I asked my friend A for help. After about 5 minutes, I knew what I had to do and turned in the paper. I spent all of labor day weekend working on the paper – aside from a brief break to Saturday Morning Cartoons (hands down the best party of the summer).
I finished the paper around 11:30 on Monday night. Classes for the fall semester start the next day. I turned the paper in and avoided email all morning.
I had finished the paper but turned it in so late could he even give me a grad? Wow e. you’ve really done it this time.
Long story short, he got the paper and I got a B+ in the class (Praise sweet baby Jesus).
On crisis down. Another crisis that had not been solved with worry but with action.
I have another crisis left. Finding a roommate. Yes, I’ve been actively looking for 3 months down. 3 chicks who have confirmed they were moving in and then disappeared later, I have resolved to not solve this problem with worry because it doesn’t help. I’m going to do what I have to do and talk to my landlord on Monday. But I will not spend an entire weekend alone with my worries. No way.