“AGH!,” I yell. I am frustrated. I am impatient. I have some kind of magician’s expectation of immediate success. When I want something to get done, I want it done, and I drive against the obstacles with full force. It usually works….eventually. But in the meantime, I go through deep chasms of frustrations. It could be as small as a screw not screwing in or as big as my biggest dreams apparently not coming true. No matter the cause, my teens have a way of lightening it up. They tell me with joking eyes and an empathetic tone, “the struggle is real.” And for me it is. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Is passionate, crazy? You be the Judge.
It is important to me to be all in. I’m emotionally involved. Business people call it “fully engaged.” I call it feeling alive. It is vibrant. It is fantastic. And, it also kills. It is so painful to care so much. But, I feel like it is worth it. There is another saying that captures it, “Live out loud.” I want to live out loud, fully present. It is okay with me if I sometimes crack my skull on the wall I’m trying to break through because I know, I’ll eventually find a way. To me, this is fun.
Hard things are Hard
Hard things are hard. It occurred to me recently how hard hard things are. Raising a child takes years and is never really done. Becoming an expert in any field is expected to take at least 10 hours per week for ten years focused on that one thing. I have had a blast watching TED talks on Youtube this week. In a twenty minute summary we see the fruit of at least ten years of their work. But it came at a price, a price we never see. I was reminded that hard things are really hard. The struggle is real. Bel Pesce, in her TED talk, sarcastically encourages us to “believe in overnight success” because there is no such thing. Success is hard.
Easy things are Hard
My sister is a young mother of two small boys. I was talking to her about mothering young children. She and I both had the pleasure (and challenge) of staying home with our young kids. I told her, “easy things are hard.” The laundry is hard. Washing dishes is hard. It is all so boring and repetitive. It can be lonely and too relaxing. Sometimes there isn’t enough stimulation that feels like a total brain drain. Other times there is too much stimulation, crying, screaming, kicking, non-cooperation, not enough rest, constant interruption, and “Hey, Mom, what ya doing in there?” They say (don’t know for myself yet) that even retirement can be hard because it is too easy (or too hard). There isn’t enough to do or you aren’t able to do everything you want to.
Think of all the boring, mundane things we need to do that would be easy, should be easy. But, because they are so easy and repetitive they feel so hard. Flossing can be a killer (I have taken to doing it with the TV on). Exercising can be a nice, easy walk. We don’t have to kill ourselves off, but getting out and doing it seems hard. Eating healthy, another simple thing that seems so stinkin’ hard.
Everything is hard.
My epiphany of the week, “everything is hard.” If everything is hard, then why do I keep expecting to make it easy or at least easier? Why do I expect things to go smoothly? Why do I expect that I will want to brush my teeth for the full two minutes or want to stop eating sugar?
Mel Robbins said in her TED Talk, “You are never going to feel like it.” I needed to hear that. I have sometimes wondered if it was true. I had inklings that it might be true. I wondered if I was just immature because I prefer to feel like doing something first. But, I didn’t want to call myself names. She also said that there is a nine to one chance that you won’t make the changes you need to, even if your life depends on it. Wow. Maybe I’m not the only one waiting too long to do something hard, because everything is hard, while waiting to feel like it.
You have to parent yourself
Mel Robbins also gave us that little tip, “you have to parent yourself. You have to force yourself to get out of bed and do the things that will make your dreams come true.” I already do that. I parent myself. “No, don’t eat that so late at night. Yes, go to bed now even though you’d rather stay up and read that book all night.” I teach my children when they become adults they have to parent themselves. It is a tough concept to learn how to say ‘no’ to yourself. I think being a responsible adult sent me too far the other direction, and I also had to learn how to say ‘yes’ to myself. I had to give myself permission to play once in awhile and permission to make mistakes. I’m still working on the permission thing since my work is my play, and I can get really out of balance if I don’t set a timer or have some plan to pull me back into the realm of reality and necessary self-care.
How can I be passionate, live passionately, and never feel like it?
I wondered, how can I be passionate, live passionately, and never feel like doing the things I have to do to make my dreams come true? I can’t. It isn’t possible. I have a real problem. I love a good problem! I’m frustrated and thinking, again, “the struggle is real.” Don’t we all want to live passionately and do the things we want to because we want to and make our dreams come true? That sounds like freedom to me. I love freedom.
Two ways to start a fire
If you already have a flame, it is pretty easy to just put a burning stick (or match) against other fuel and start a fire. This is just like when the desire is already burning brightly within me. I want to see a clean sink all day. I want to scrub the dishes while they are easy to scrub and before they dry on, and I have other, more exciting things to do and think about afterwards. Those dishes don’t have a chance. I passionately want to do them (or at least get them over with). So, they won’t be there 5 hours later mocking me.
But, I’ve been down and discouraged without much of a spark left. How do you light a fire, without fire? Mel Robbins would have us force ourselves, and if that works for you, I say do it. She has a good point. But, pure force of will for me is a fight I don’t want to have. I can gut it out, but I’d rather love it out. When I felt like doing nothing, when everything was too hard even when it was easy, what worked for me was to make a deal with myself. I agreed that I would start an activity, any activity I needed to do. If I didn’t feel like continuing after 5 minutes, I could stop. And that is what I did.
When you rub two sticks together, it is supposed to make fire. In real life, I have never made a successful fire this way. But, in a comparison, I have. I discovered that if I start doing what I don’t feel like doing (with the option to quit), I start to enjoy what I am doing like a fire kindling after the vigorous rubbing of sticks. I almost never felt like quitting after 5 minutes. But, even when I did, I discovered it is amazing what you can get done in powerfully focused 5 minute increments.
It became clear to me that since everything is hard, that actually levels the playing field. It is all hard. I can’t let it stop me that something is hard. So what? Everything is hard. The struggle is real. I just have to put on my helmet and move on every day.
I refuse to move without my emotions.
I love living on purpose, full of emotive energy. In many ways my purpose and emotions are my energy that power everything I do.
But, I also know what Mel said is also true, at least a lot of the time. If I passively wait around, I’m never going to feel like it (of course I want the dream, but I’m not likely to feel like doing all the easy and hard hard stuff in between here and there).
So it is a lot like fear. I need to feel however I feel, and do what is best anyway.
Feelings do lead to and fuel actions.
But actions also lead to and ignite feelings!
I want to light my own fire.
Instead of forcing myself,
I will work to
May you fill each day with passion and say with me and Robert Louis Stevenson,
“I know what pleasure is, for I have done good work.”
DarEll S. Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com