“When you sit at the poker table,
you don’t get to play both sides;
you’re not the dealer.
The cards you get are the cards you get.
Your hand is your hand,
and you gotta play it out.
Now the question is,
are you gonna play it out?
Just last night I had temper tantrum about the hand I had been dealt. I had used these exact words: “the hand I had been dealt.”
This global pandemic lock-down situation is tough. For everyone, I know. We are trapped inside, hopefully with work to do, but without much distraction from ourselves.
And for most, again hopefully, there’s much to be gained from the lack of distraction. Maybe now is the time you focus on your health. Maybe now is the time you focus on your relationships. Maybe now is the time you take your first deep breath in a long-time and reconsider your obligations. Or maybe now is the time you learn something new, discover a hidden talent, or start your own business.
Opportunity is just as abundant as restriction, if you want that perspective.
I understand, however, that this positive outlook doesn’t just lay itself before you. You have to remove all the crap that’s in the way first. And with all the business of daily life removed, we can find ourselves with nothing else to do but face it.
For me, this has been the time where I finally discover why I haven’t been successful in entrepreneurship. When this lock-down first came about, I was overjoyed! Number one, I hate public transportation and all the crowds and germs that come with it on a regular basis. Getting an extra hour of sleep and a 30-second commute immediately eased a tension I carry every day. (My current employer has made it very easy for us to work from home and I am beyond thankful!)
Beyond that, I thought to myself, “I finally have the time to build my business.” With nowhere else to be, nothing else to do, and no other distractions than the ones I create for myself, I was out of excuses. And I was happy about it!
It’s been a month and a half, and my business has not grown any more than it has before.
If you read my last post (What Exists in the Silence.) then you know there had been a legitimate reorganizing of priorities. But, I sit here today knowing full well that I can re-reorganize my life back to prioritizing my business.
And I’m still not doing anything.
And it’s driving me mad… literally.
My unlucky quarantine-buddy gets to witness the full spectrum of ups and downs that spew out of my over the course of each hour, each day. I wake up each morning pissed off that I’m returning to the same life I fell asleep to. I spend 8:30-5 doing work I get paid to do, but don’t want to be doing. I spend the evening going back and forth between webinars, Netflix series, journaling, and game-playing; some tasks taking me closer to my goals, others distracting me from the actual work. Then just as I lay my head down to sleep my brain and my heart fire on all cylinders with ideas on how to actually make my business work. I spend all night writing down ideas, neatly stacking my to-do lists, and letting my creativity fly out of me. Then the alarm goes off, I’m exhausted from being up all night, and I fall right back into the mindset of “I’m stuck with this life.”
But last night I broke.
It’s a break-down that I’ve had before: “I don’t like the hand I’ve been dealt.” Maybe you’re familiar with this particular sadness? I’ll try my best to put the feelings into words…
I look back at how hard I have had to work to get to where I am right now. I think back to the abuse I’ve survived, the broken family I’ve navigated, the long-term illnesses I’ve defeated, and the broken hearts I’ve healed. How is it that I have worked this hard to overcome so much, and yet I am still not where I want to be? How much harder do I have to work? It’s. Not. Fair.
And there it was. It’s not fair. Those were the words that hit home. I am so full of rage and bitterness still. I feel overwhelmed by the scenarios I’ve had to not just survive, but work through as an adult to continue to just be a functioning member of society.
Every day I have to get myself back to base-line by remembering that I am who I am, I’m not what has happened to me. And that takes a tremendous amount of effort, especially on days where I’m met with unanticipated triggers. Which – let’s be honest – is every day that things don’t go according to plan; which – let’s be honest – is every day because when the hell does anything ever go exactly as you plan it?
But planning, for me, is protection. If I am continuously working to protect myself from all angles, then I have a less-likely chance of getting hurt. Again. Because who knows if I have enough strength to survive something else?
Welcome to trauma. You’re always on your guard, you’re only safe when you’re fully in control, and every moment holds a possibility of a trigger that will send your brain back to the dark place you keep striving to escape.
So last night I finally admitted how tired I am. I am 29 years old and I’m exhausted just from surviving life. How on earth could I possibly thrive if I’m already this tired? Am I supposed to live to be 60+? Because I can’t see how it’ll be possible to keep this up for a second term.
And quite frankly, I don’t want to.
I shouldn’t have to.
Why was I given this hand?
And beyond that, why do I have this innate and relentless nagging to do more. I think to myself sometimes that maybe I could relax, survive, and enjoy the second term if I just lean in to the 9-5 life and make the most out of the other 16 hours of the day. I don’t have to be an entrepreneur…!
But, I do, in fact. Because I think the only thing worse than enduring trauma is letting it win. If I don’t follow my gut, if I don’t lean into what I believe to be authentically me, then it wins.
That was the “ah-ha” moment. I am the only thing in my way. I assume that life will just magically work out for me because I have earned it by already enduring so much. So I am not actually doing anything. And I feel miserable because by not doing anything that I feel called to do, I’m folding. I’m letting it win.
This morning I woke up to an email in my inbox from my current employer. It contained this video.
I hear you, Universe…
Not everyone who endures trauma will start a business. Not everyone who survives something tragic will feel the need to share it with others. Not everyone who goes through something difficult will want to harness it into something creative. That’s fine! That’s more than fine! It’s your life and your story and only you know what it means to live it authentically.
The point that I’m trying to make is, I have a choice to make.
We have a choice to make.
I can let my trauma define me, dominate my thoughts, and close me off from a full life. That’s a choice. The other choice is that I can accept that this is the life I have, I can allow myself to grow, create, and connect with others who relate to all this, and I can follow my intuition, build this business, and lead a movement of strong, authentic individuals who want to thrive.
So is it the hand I was dealt fair? HELL NO! What has happened to me is not my fault. The work that I have done to become who I am today was hard. It’s still hard, and I’m still working on it. My feelings are valid.
Does the unfairness I was dealt mean that I can’t play the hand at all? HELL NO! How I react to the things that have happened to me, the things that continue to happen to me, is my choice. I can choose to be a victim, or I can choose to be empowered. I am allowed to feel and I am allowed to have bad days, but I am also responsible for how I create, connect, live and grow.
I am playing my hand. And I just figured out that I can play to win.
We all can.
Strategize, take risks, and be smart. You may not end up where you expected, but chances are you’ll end up somewhere great.
You just have to play.
Hey, we gotta play it out.
Out of a pit, a warrior is gonna stand up.
She’s gonna look like she’s been through hell and back,
because she has.
And the question is,
is that gonna be you?”