Have you ever been so paralyzed with indecision that making a choice between PB&J and ham & cheese seemed insurmountable? But not in a one-off child-induced sleep deprivation kind of a way. More like every day you are faced with thousands of “which ones,” “where tos,” and “how longs,” or “should Is,” and you never seem to have a definitive answer. Ever awakened and realized you didn’t recognize where you were in life? Ever look in the mirror and see that the human before you is not who you expected, someone you barely know? Like you don’t understand who that person is any longer, can’t align yourself with their philosophy? Perhaps it’s more akin to recognizing a 3rd cousin at an every-five-year family reunion. Every year, you know them less and less. You change, they change, but there are some familiar qualities, just harder and harder to discern. Yeah, like that.
That was me. Truly and authentically me. I felt an attack of conscience just vacuuming: Should I just do it and enable the family? Should I make one of the children do it and learn responsibility? I awoke routinely caught in an identity crisis: What am I doing here? Like I was a bad actor in a B movie titled Amy’s Nebulous Life. It was Groundhog Day, every day. As long as I didn’t move in any direction, the unknown wouldn’t happen, right? Safety in staying put, no second guessing for me, because that sure was a headache. I saved myself, or so I thought, by simply doing nothing.
And by doing nothing, I mean nothing exceptional.
Sure, I took care of family, cooked, cleaned, played Monopoly with my kiddos, watched the Super Bowl, loved my husband, read some books, and drank some wine with friends. But I was a shell. There was no movement, you know? The kind of movement where your projects are more than complete, ready for the next one, but rather they have meaning. They create something. Something special. Something with purpose. Somehow, you did something that created the butterfly effect. I didn’t have that. Truthfully, I had no idea I wasn’t moving, progressing, and only maintaining. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Until one day… one day, lightning struck me at my core. My foundation shook; pieces of me broke away; filters through which I viewed life and others were lifted; I had an epiphany. (Almost like when I switched from white wine to red wine, but that’s a different post…)
My questions still didn’t have answers, but I knew it was about action. Saying Yes. Saying No. Being present. Being authentic. Stopping all the to-dos, and just allowing life to sometimes lift me to a different place. You know you’re a Gen-Xer by how many buzz words were born in your adult lifetime. Today’s people have no idea how colorful their lives are with catchy little phrases and idioms that mean everything… the struggle is real, folks.
But one buzz word stands out among all the others. A word that allowed me to judge myself harshly, hang my head in shame, allow a feeling of inadequacy to replace self-love in my head and heart. A word so powerful, I dared never say it, for I had no control on what it unleashed… so I ignored it. That word is “Why.”
Not the adverb, “for what?” but rather the noun meaning “purpose,” “drive,” “motivation”—your raison d’etre. That word scared me to death. It was palpable. I loathed that word being brought up as it was couched as the only thing you need to know in life, in addition to your social security number, how to cook a 3-min egg, how to balance your checkbook, and the Pythagorean Theorem. I winced. I ignored. I walked away. I said I didn’t know. I had mastered the art of inaction, indecision, and patented the sentence: “My why is personal.” Why shouldn’t it be?
It isn’t, I just didn’t know it… and I didn’t know how to be honest and say “I don’t know because I’m scared.” I’m scared to leave this little safe bubble—my 2×2 square place I sit, stand, cook, think, and feel within. I know one thing: the day my world changed, is the day my Why became… action.
That’s all it needed to be. It’s a goal. It’s a mantra, a philosophy, a state of mind. I learned that all action creates some form of change. And maybe—just maybe—that change created a domino effect of changes… which just might change the world. Who knows? I am not trying to change the world, per se. For me, that feels full of ego.
I want to change me. My universe.
Selfish? To some, maybe. Not to the beautiful people in my life. Changing me, being vulnerable, authentic, less worried about image, is being the best self I can be. And all the wondrous, delicious things and people in my life are worth being a better version of myself.
My Why isn’t anything like paying for a vacation, solving a Rubik’s Cube, or curing Zika… it’s about action. Where that action leads, I don’t yet know, but I’m moving and that’s the sexy part. With action, your Why possibilities are endless. And I’m no longer afraid to be me, to say yes, or to say no.
Forgive yourself for not knowing your Why. Just take some action.