Wait a minute. What? This is supposed to be some inspirational idea to strive towards? What if I don’t want to be scared every day? Or even every other day?!
BULLSHIT. I’m calling bullshit.
Because yes, it’s really, truly important to take risks in life. You aren’t going to get what you want by staying in your bubble – you had to go to kindergarten even though you were nervous, do job interviews and meet in-laws and go to the doctor. I am in no way advocating couch surfing as a lifestyle. What I AM promoting is living with joy. I remember seeing the above saying on some social platform in my early 20’s emblazoned over some soft focus photo of something inspirational, like some adorable print model standing ‘on top of a mountain’ in some studio in front of a green screen or base jumping or asking for the same pay as the male employees from her boss at her mid-level job she’s overqualified for (Whoops, lady rage bubbling up again, sorry) and taking it quite literally, which was easy given what was going on in my life at the time. I needed to find a job to pay for the crazy expensive NYC apartment I had just moved into, figure out the subway, go to auditions with some of the world’s most ridiculously talented performers, and face the mean streets everyday. Mission accomplished: I was fucking terrified. And after seeing this quote, I thought, “Okay, I’m doing it right. My stomach is in knots from anxiety constantly, I can’t sleep, I’m stressed as hell… I must be doing this life thing right!” After a little time passed, I settled into my new life, but never shook the feeling that the happy times should be outweighing the shitty times more often than not, and they weren’t. (No wonder I was such a shitty actress! Ha.) I continued status quo for years, until I burned out and crashed so hard I could barely get off of my couch to earn the money to pay for the apartment my couch was in, gained 30 pounds, and wallowed in my unhappiness like Miss Piggy in a pen full of mud and pearls and diamonds and satin opera length gloves. I was no longer afraid, but I was never happy. Obviously, this needed to change, and change came in the form of learning how to write songs, sing in a style I was unaccustomed to in front of a city that prides itself on its snarky too-cool-for-school-iness as opposed to one or two casting directors behind a table in a private room, planning an epic (if I do say so myself) wedding, going back to school to learn a trade I always loved but had no idea how to do correctly, going home to take care of my mom as she got (and beat!) cancer, and more that I’m sure I’m forgetting. All of which were solidly terrifying to me at the outset, but slowly became manageable at first and joyful after some time – which is where that fear stuff comes in. YES. Fear is inevitable in life. But looking back, I see that your joy should ALWAYS outweigh your stress, even if it means some bumpy roads to get to a place where you can find that balance.
And I know, I know – all of these annoying blogs (ahem… sorry) and their ‘easy’ recipes and Twitter feeds with their perky, pithy ideas about life and diets and their pins about perfect homes and perfect families, the Facebook posts about all of the wonderful things they’re doing (and in turn, that you’re NOT doing as you sit on your couch eating cronuts and watching Four Weddings) and their Instagrams with their gorgeous post-marathon or just-being-pretty-for-no-reason selfies make you go UGH. It’s never enough! I don’t bake pies, I’m too lazy to juice, I haven’t washed my windows in months, I had no idea that super cool bar/restaurant/pop-up shop/flea market even existed and this is their third tag there this WEEK, I hate running, and I haven’t looked that rested in a long time not to mention that she has KIDS. It’s really, really, reeeeeeally easy to feel like everything you do isn’t enough. IGNORE THEM. ( I realize that I am technically telling you to ignore me. Not the shrewdest business move…) Okay, don’t ignore them, but skim over the bullshit you see (and you know you can see it) because as soon as she put down her Iphone from posting that selfieeeeee, she probably washed her face and had a good cry just like I did last week, like you might need right now. It’s okay. Log off for a bit, shake off the FOMO guilt, and breathe.
Eleanor Roosevelt, and the billion people who repost her quote, mean well. They want you to embrace life, to get out there and live. Do that. Take chances. But you deserve a day, an afternoon, an hour, whatever you can manage, to do exactly what you’d like to do, no guilt involved. It’s taken me a long time to see that, and that means there are more people out there like me, who can’t always do that. Because at the end of it all, the days you’ll remember (I hope) are the ones filled with friends and family and joy. Fear might fit into some peoples’ idea of what a joyful life looks and feels like, but if it doesn’t fit into yours, that’s okay. Every once in a while, you need to pop that bubble and make some changes, and every day, you need to do something (hopefully something you love) to the best of your ability. Just know that it’s much more important to do something everyday that lights you up. Work, and strive, and achieve, but find time to smile, too. Weigh your life, and if you find yourself light on happy maybe it’s time to make some changes, which can be *gasp* scary but is oh-so-necessary to get to the place where you DON’T HAVE TO BE SCARED EVERY DAY. Fear is bullshit. Find your joy, beauties.