A dear friend of mine told me this short parable a while back, and I wanted to share it with you.
If everyone in the world could go to one place, and put all of their problems into a gigantic bowl, but they had to take another problem out, everyone would choose their own problems again, because they have the ability to handle that particular struggle.
In life, there are times when what we are facing seems bigger than who we are, and trying to muster the fortitude to deal with it seems impossible. While so much of what we perceive in grace is being demure, gentle and compassionate, it is also true that grace embodies strength, fearlessness and assertion. When you envision a dancer, she can not turn, leap, or hold such an elegant form without having an inner power that allows her to do so. It's the same for each of us.
A few years ago, I was at a job that was causing me constant stress. I was so unhappy, had little patience for anything and felt absolutely lost. I woke up dreading the day, and at night I was so tired that I had little left to give to my loved ones. The stress got to the point where, on brushing my hair one day, I found that a one inch section of hair had fallen out, leaving a bald spot on top of my head. For the stress to come outward like that, I can only imagine what it was doing internally!
With no more hours in the day than I had before, I began to take steps to change my circumstances, and called on my friends for insight and encouragement. I knew I wanted to be an event planner, that I would practically do it for free as I had whenever a little celebration was being planned. But the reality was, I had absolutely zero background in the industry aside from hosting or helping with parties for friends and family. I didn't have a hospitality degree or a resume full of successful events that I had single-handedly pulled together, but I knew that given the chance, I could do everything that the task required. The nay-sayers who proclaimed that having any job was better than no job came left and right, but feeling so miserable everyday was making me question such logic.
I turned to bloggers such as Leo Babauta at Zen Habits, Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity and Jonathan Mead at Illuminated Mind for examples of others who were living and working on their own terms. I figured out a budget for myself and saved every nickel and dime so I could quit my job, giving myself $10 or less per day for all of my food, gas and expenses. I calculated that, without a job, I could stretch the little savings I had for nearly eight months if that's what I had to do. And again and again, I told myself "Fate favors the bold."
And so, in early September of 2009, in the middle of the financial crisis, with the highest paying job I'd had, health benefits, retirement, you name it, I printed the letter of resignation I had saved on my computer months before, and set it in front of my boss.
I immediately began checking out library books about event planning, catering, starting a business, anything I could get my hands on, and I sat at a coffee shop (my $10 dwindling with that first tea purchase) and took endless notes on what I would need to be successful. At my second interview (the first turned out to be a pyramid scheme, ha!!) I was taken on as an intern for a Luxury Event Planning, Design and Catering company. A week later, I was lugging 20 lb. bags of ice up to the front door of Versace on Rodeo Drive, waiting for the company's event coordinator to arrive to tell me what to do. She never showed. In fact, she quit to return to dental school and suddenly I was working (still unpaid as an intern) for what would become a job that no longer felt like a job. I worked 70 hours per week for free for those first two months, and was offered the full time position in December.
One and a half years later, I work longer hours, have more responsibility, and most likely more eustress than I have ever had. But my hair looks good!! Job is no longer a bad word, but something I take pride in. I still have tough days, but my goodness, they still beat the best days at that "other" place.
I believe each of us have talents, strengths and wisdom that we can tap into and that we should live boldly so as to see what we are truly made of. Where, in your life, are you doing OK rather than remarkable? Take steps today to prove to yourself that you have the CouRAGE to overcome those obstacles and put yourself on a path to living exuberantly.