I have hesitated to publish this article since June. Its unnerving to put something so personal on display, but necessary.
This has been an emotional week for me. There were many times I found myself repeating my Dad’s famous words, “No body cares if you have a bad day. Get up, get dressed, and show up.” Some may think this is harsh advice; I believe it is incredibly accurate.
Monday morning I learned of two tragedies; one friend was diagnosed with stage two-breast cancer and another lost her battle with cancer. Although I have not kept in continuous contact with either since high school, I felt profound sadness. I was forced to evaluate my life decisions.
About six months ago I believed I had my dream job and wonderful friends, essentially the perfect life. But I spent much of my time angry. I would come home from work exhausted and grumpy. I was stressed. I lashed out at those I love. In April I forced myself to evaluate my life. I had to discover the root of my unhappiness; because after all, one’s happiness depends upon one’s self. During my self-evaluation I had a life changing epiphany. I value people and experiences more than material possessions. However, my life choices did not reflect this belief. I spent money on expensive material items. I wasted what little free time I had talking about or researching the latest handbag or pair of shoes. Simply, my actions did not reflect the good, Southern values I was raised with. I contemplated my life and examined the times I felt true happiness. It was not when my bank account had highest balance or when I purchased an expensive purse. It was when I was surrounded by those I love enjoying the simplicity of life. I had my answer; my cognitive dissonance was ruining my life.
I was faced with the daunting task of correcting my life choices to coincide with my beliefs. In order for this to happen I had to know the difference between what I need in life and what I want. For weeks I genuinely thought about my needs, what I absolutely could not live without. I complied the following list:
- Family, Chihuahuas included
Upon completion, I stared at my list for twenty minutes. I was amazed at how similar my needs as an adult are to what I valued most growing up. But I was also concerned about how these five needs had become so lost in my list of priorities as an adult. I began to strategize about how I could implement changes in order to achieve my five basic needs. I generated a list of possibilities (clearly I am list person):
- Work less
- Travel more
- Spend more time with my husband
- Increase my workout schedule
All of these things sounded amazing; I was excited, I was ready to focus on all four changes. Slowly the realization set it, none of these changes were possible with my current career.
The answer was clear, simple, and terrifying.
It was necessary for me to change my career in order to achieve true happiness.
I struggled with forgoing a high-powered, prestigious position for a less appreciated but equally important one. I thought about what my parents would think and how my friends would react. In all honesty, I had doubts until I heard my friend Jon’s presentation at WordCamp Orange County. Jon spoke about work life balance. Within his presentation Jon emphasized the negative aspects of America’s counter-intuitive lifestyle. Specifically, how Americans work hard to have large houses and fancy cars. Then feel unhealthy and unhappy, so we work more to afford organic food and gym memberships. Mean while we are ignoring the actual problem. The old saying is true, “Money does not buy happiness.” Throughout his entire presentation I felt as though Jon was speaking directly to me. As if to say, “You have made the right choice.” I walked away from his presentation confident and inspired to create a new reality for myself. So that is what I did. I put aside my fears and I embarked on a new journey.
Today I am filled with true happiness. I have redefined success. I am able to have time away from work to enjoy those I love. My relationship with Austin is stronger than ever.
Six months of self-reflection
In my six months of self-reflection I have learned more about myself than I expected. So, in the spirit of my fast approaching thirty-first birthday I will share thirty-one things I learned, in no particular order.
- Sundays should be spent with family.
- Work hard, but don’t work your life away.
- Take care of yourself.
- Don’t forget where you came from.
- Country music is good for the soul.
- Diamonds are not a girl’s best friend, dogs are.
- Nothing in life is guaranteed.
- Life goes by fast, really fast.
- Thirty isn’t that old after all.
- Good girlfriends are hard to find.
- A girl should always have a pair of shoes that make her feel sexy.
- There is something magical about being up before the sun.
- Less really is more.
- You can catch more flies with sugar than vinegar.
- You should always clean as you cook.
- Drink water. A lot of water.
- As an adult, sometimes you meet your friends in unexpected places. Like floating down a river or outside a Vegas dive bar.
- Cowboy boots are always in style.
- I will always be a Daddy’s girl.
- Once a competitor, always a competitor.
- It is never too late to make life-altering changes.
- Education is important.
- Work ethic is taught through work not a book.
- Tail light circles make Friday nights better.
- Sometimes an educated and classy woman needs to say fuck for emphasis.
- There is no deleting the internet.
- “No body cares if you have a bad day. Get up, get dressed, and show up.”
- Never trust a girl who won’t drink a beer with you.
- Never let your fear decide your fate.
- Wear sunscreen. All. The. Time.
- Don’t forget to listen more than you speak.