I recently shared a powerful quote on my Instagram that seemed to resonate with my tribe. The image said, “Constantly torn between “if it’s meant to be, it will be” and “if you want it, go and get it.””
Within minutes, I was receiving questions, comments and messages from my tribe, some of them saying:
“Every single day I’m stuck on this.”
“Such a hard thing to figure out.”
“I was just thinking this today! It’s hard to navigate between the two.”
I want to give you two examples in my life where this confusion was present and how I learned to navigate the situation. At the end of this article, I invite you to think about a couple situations in your own life: one where you knew to let go and one where you knew you needed to keep going.
Every day we receive these two opposing messages all over the media. We’re told that the Universe has our back and we don’t need to fight to get what’s meant for us. Then we’re told that it takes blood, sweat and tears to make our dreams come true.
As the delightful Jim Carrey says, “You can’t just manifest and go eat a sandwich.” Meaning, you can’t visualize what you want but not do the work required to see it happen.
On the opposite side of the coin, A Course in Miracles says, “Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait and wait without anxiety.”
So which is it, Self-Help Gurus?!
Do we go out there and kick butt in our dreams by pestering people who we want to give us a chance, cold-calling our entire phone book and investing large chunks of money…or do we meditate in our 300 square foot studio apartment waiting for the Universe to give us a break?
WHEN I WOULDN’T LET GO
The first story I’m going to share is the story of starting my business. Of course, this was a long, long, long journey so I’m not going to dive deep into every nook and cranny, but the overarching theme in my entrepreneurial career is really important.
I will say up front, in the long-run, building my business was on the side of “if you want it go and get it”…not, if it’s meant to be it will be.
Don’t get me wrong, there were many sub-aspects in my business that required me to surrender and give up control but the whole “I want to have my own business and travel the world” part was not something I had a loose grasp on. It was white-knuckled tight and not going anywhere.
I knew it was going to happen. The question was just how.
Not many people know this, but when I decided to quit my full-time job to leap into the land of complete uncertainty, I didn’t have much support.
I tried to run my own business back in 2013 immediately after college, but the stress was too great and I was also at the peak of my orthorexia. I decided to go into the work force, get a 9-5er and see what it felt like to have an actual, consistent paycheck.
Seven months later, I was out. It wasn’t for me. I knew it. I didn’t want to fight it anymore.
Since my parents knew that I had tried to run my own bizz before, they were apprehensive about me quitting and doing my own thing.
*Warning, all parent-pleasers: what is about to follow may motivate you to actually do what is best for YOU and not what everyone says is best for you.*
My entire life, I have been programmed to need/want/have my parents’ approval. Like most of us, I craved it. And because I knew my father wanted me to go the traditional cubicle-insurance-steady paycheck route, I didn’t want to quite my job. I was terrified of what he would say and think, and the risk felt daunting.
So what did I do?
I tapped into my body day after day after day to see what I wanted. Every night, the answer was always the same: I want to run my own business. I’d rather have uncertainty and be mobile, then have certainty and be immobile. I’d rather have the fear that comes with running my own business than the fear that comes with not.
Every day at my traditional job was miserable (and it wasn’t even that traditional). My brain was always elsewhere and I had resentment towards most everyone for “making” me have a life I didn’t want…until I finally realized that there was another way. There was another path. My path.
My path was scary. It meant that I would need to live in uncertainty. That I would need to take a risk. That I would have to detach from the approval of my parents (from a father who paid for my college education and really wanted to see that degree get me a job).
One day I went into work, just like any other day. At 2 PM, my fingers hit the keyboard and I started crafting an email to my boss asking to meet at 4 PM. He said yes. We met. I quit.
He was totally cool about it, and said he knew I was going to do that eventual, but believe me when I say I had NO IDEA I was going to quit that day. It’s almost as if I blacked out for a bit and my deepest desires just started to run the show. (love when that happens)
And guess who I didn’t tell beforehand to make sure I was making the smartest decision? Anybody else. Not my father. Not my mother. Not my best friend.
To be very clear, doing something that my parents thought wasn’t safe/smart was probably one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. Above traveling around Asia by myself. Above moving to Colorado not knowing a single person. Above speaking to hundreds of people on a stage.
I knew that if I called them before that meeting with my boss, they would warn against it, and I’d never be able to get up the courage to do this. So, to protect myself, I didn’t expose myself to the opinions of others. And I quit.
What happened next was incredible. I flew away to Hawaii for a couple weeks to slow down, write my goals and get clear on my vision. Three years later, here I am after much consistency, self-belief, chance-taking and following my heart.
My very own online business wasn’t going to come to me. It wasn’t going to fall in my lap.
I received a lot of help along the way (love you, Matt Stone), I had to spend more money than I was comfortable with, I had to face my fear of public speaking, learn how to produce my own podcast show, remain in touch with social media, create branding (again and again), receive criticism, get shamed by others and deal with embarrassing headline articles about my past.
It was not easy. And it still isn’t easy. But that didn’t matter to me. Of course there have been times where I’ve doubted my abilities, but I nourished myself with positive friends, coaches, books and podcasts to keep myself uplifted on a quest that sometimes felt out of my reach.
The factor that made this a “go after and get what you want” scenario is that I was so tightly married to my “why.” Meaning, why I wanted my own online business never failed me. The love I created with that “why” kept me showing up every morning. It kept me writing. It kept me speaking. And to this day, my “why” is how I’m still here. If you have a powerful enough “why,” you will do what it takes to protect it.
Think about a time in your life where you refused to give up or let your direction be swayed by the opinions of another.
Was it around the man you married? The school you went to? Your dream to tap dance on a roof? Play the cello in Carnegie Hall? Think about it, and ask yourself, what was your why? How did the idea of that dream coming true make you feel?
WHEN I DID LET GO
Okay. Now onto an example where I did let go.
There have been many instances in my life where I have been all “this is the only thing I want and there is zero room for negotiating” but every day I’m constantly working towards, “Okay Universe, you take it from here.” It’s much harder, AMIRIGHT? This is a safe space, we all control freaks up in here.
I could give you an example of a time I’ve done this in relationships, with food, my body image and money, but the example that keeps coming up for me is book writing.
Another thing many people don’t know about me is that I’ve written short fictions stories since I was five. Yes, five. (my mom wrote them down). Since I was that young, I’ve said I’m going to be an author of fiction novels…and that desire is still deep in my body.
When I was in fifth grade, I wrote what I considered to be the fourth Lord of the Rings.
When I was in high school, I started working on a children’s book series.
In college, I became a poetry major and started two poetry blogs.
I later came up with what I think is one of the creepiest, in-depth dystopian stories everrrr but yet, getting it down on paper has been a tremendous challenge for me.
When I lived in Asia I spent the entire four months working on a book around intuitive eating, body image and weight. I wrote 200 pages, y’all. The book got WROTE.
But where is it? Still in the depths of my computer.
To be honest, I can’t tell you how many books I’ve started and stopped- both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve written at least five book proposals that have yet to go anywhere, and I’ve returned to that dystopian story at least 4 times a year.
I want to publish these books, I really do, but somewhere in my body (more like my mind), there lives some major resistance. For many years, I’ve fought that resistence with more push, only creating more resistance, until I finally stopped to wonder if that feeling of push was coming from somewhere important.
I made the decision to honor that part of me that feels resistance to working on these books right now, regardless of how badly I want it, because I believe there’s a reason for it.
You see, when you feel consistent resistance to something in your life, it normally means that the door you’re trying to walk into needs to remain shut. If you’re creating something that isn’t fun and doesn’t light you up with joy, you’re probably creating it out of fear. Fear, like, “If i don’t create this then I will be a failure! I need to prove I can do this!” That isn’t coming from love, y’all.
If you’re so focused on that one door, you’re going to miss out on all these other doors that are open to you. The most beautiful, golden, detail-intricate door could be open at this very moment, holding so much happiness and joy for you, yet if you’re so laser-focused on the one you imagined you’d have by this age when you were ten, then you’re going to miss out.
You’re going to miss out on the door made for you.
Sometimes we need to keep going. And sometimes we need to let go.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
What is your why for doing whatever goal you currently have? Is it big enough to make all your obstacles appear trivial?
Do you have any resistance to this goal? If yes, is it out of fear of playing bigger in life…or is it actually wisdom from the body saying, “not yet?”
If you can slow down long enough, you’ll be surprised in your ability to tell the difference.