Well, friends, 2017 has come and gone, and it was good. I successfully didn’t cut bangs even though I almost did like 5 times, I thrived in a career as a creative director, and I started a new relationship with a wonderful man who has thoughtfully labeled me as “The most dramatic woman” that he knows. To which I replied, “Thank you.”
All in all, I would say that 2017 was a fabulous year for me. I walk away from it feeling accomplished and incredible and a little chubbier but honestly okay with it. And so naturally, because I was feeling so amazing, I decided to quit my job and rebuild my career based on some deep-set dreams that I have.
Starting over feels sexy…when you’re not actually having to start over. It’s full of intrigue and seduction and lots of romantic notions about the unknown. But it sort of loses its sex appeal when, in the midst of trying to figure out exactly what you want to do with your life, you find yourself googling, “How to make money selling your blood.”
So, what is it that I want to do? Have you ever asked yourself that?
This question is intricate and complicated and complex on so many different levels. And not just because I tend to make everything that I do intricate and complicated and complex. But because it takes a lot of focus and gumption and bravery to start over. Focus and gumption and bravery are admirable traits. But I’m not sure that people realize how hard it is to be brave.
Don’t misunderstand me: I do know what I want to to do and what I want to accomplish. But the steps are so big and the goals so lofty that I find myself in a place where I don’t really know where to start. So, I made a list. And another one. And another one. And finally, I narrowed down where I want to start- what I want to build off of.
I want to be a friend to the losers.
Weird, huh? Yeah, I’m weird. But keep reading.
Here’s the thing about losers: nobody starts life thinking that they are a loser. Nobody strives towards loserdom. There is not a baby in the world who opened its eyes for the first time and thought, “I will be a loser when I grow up.”
Loser is a label, not an ideology. You aren’t a loser until somebody decides that you are. We, as a culture, have created a checklist of things makes us a loser. And if you hit 4 of the 12 things on the checklist, well, loser, you’re on your way.
Maybe it’s that everybody in your family before you was a loser, so you’ve sort of inherited it. Or maybe it’s that you can’t seem to hold a job. Or maybe it’s that you have 4 different kids by 4 different people and so, therefore, you must be a loser. Whatever it is, somewhere along the way, someone has decided that you are a loser, told you what they decided, and you believed them.
The idea that somebody can decide our life for us sounds ridiculous, right? But on a daily basis, we are surrounded by an entire population of capable, intelligent, kind, history-making individuals who were told that they are losers. And they believed it. And worse of all, we believed it, and we have fed into that lie. We are responsible for their life. We are responsible for the lie that they have believed.
Why befriend a loser?
Because, if we’re being honest, I feel like a loser right now.
I am turning 34 in two weeks, and as of this moment, I don’t have a job. I have applied everywhere in metro Detroit. I mean, EVERYWHERE. I woke up the other morning in my parents’ house in the same bed that I slept in when I was in 7th grade in my UNSEXIEST underwear to see a rejection email from a florist as a part-time cashier and ya know what? I felt like a loser.
Sometimes, when you’re trying to build something, people have lots of things to say. Sometimes it makes you feel amazing. Sometimes it makes you feel like a huge lame-o. But all of the time, it adds pressure. You find yourself trying to make sure everyone knows how amazing you are and how hard you’re working. And suddenly, your journey doesn’t become your own. This is the fastest way to sink and live in Loserville: When your journey isn’t based on what you need to be, but on what you think everyone else needs you to be. We can’t make everyone happy.
And in your deepest moments, you find yourself thinking about that person 8 years ago who really screwed you over, and you want to show them how amazing you are and how wrong they were. And in my latest deep self-reflection, I had a realization:
I don’t need to build a life that will make everyone feel proud. I need to build a life that will make me feel proud.
By not releasing the negative words, labels, and actions that people placed on you, you allow them to have a say in every single decision that you make. When you mess up, you see their face and feel shame. When you do something good, you see their face and hope they notice.
It’s okay to be motivated by your negative experiences. But don’t let that motivation rule all other motivations. Don’t get so busy trying to prove everyone wrong that you forget to build a life that you love. Don’t let your passions be clouded by the need for approval from people who literally love to disapprove of you.
How much could we accomplish if we made the way that we view ourselves more important than the way that others view us.
Because here’s the thing: There will always be people who don’t like you, who question the way that you build, who think you’re a loser. But here’s the other thing: Their perception of you is based on someone else’s perception of them. They are judging you based on what they know- on what has worked for them.
Not everyone will join you on your journey. It wasn’t meant for everyone.
So, losers, I’m talking to you.
To those who have been told you are not capable, experienced, or qualified enough.
To the high school dropout who isn’t intelligent enough.
To the middle-aged man who doesn’t have enough experience.
To the single mom who has too much baggage.
To the marginalized, unmarried, jobless, addicted, wrong-side-of-the-tracks, unschooled losers of this world.
I, on your behalf, reject
that has been placed on you, and I tell you this: You are full of the most beautiful and intricate plans.
Losers, let this be a year where you redefine.
Work hard to rebuild. And friends, it will be hard.
Don’t shy away from the hard stuff that comes with rebuilding. Don’t quit when it gets messy. Because it will get messy.
Dream big, and dream often. And don’t stop dreaming when an old dream is shattered.
Give yourself space to heal. Remove the things that are preventing your healing
In the same way, do your part in healing the people that you have hurt. In order to be a big person, you have to be the bigger person.
Make plans with people who inspire you. And follow through.
Let go of the motivation of proving people wrong. That’s too heavy of a burden to bear. And friend, it’s not your burden.
WORK HARD. Coming out of Loserville is hard work. And it’s work that you’ve been told for so long was out of your league.
Well, guess what, you amazing thing, you: It’s not. You are capable and wonderful and full of bravery. Dig deep.
And so, coming into 2018, jobless and in ugly granny panties, I proudly wear the badge of a loser. Why? Because I get to redefine and rebuild. I get to start over. I get to venture out into the unknown and blaze a trail.
And so do you. Because you CAN.