Give Yourself A Break – Strive For Imperfection, Instead

This morning on my drive to work I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts, Jen Gotch Is Okay…Sometimes. It’s described as a podcast that “is weird and original and funny and honest—just like me.  Each week I’m going to get in your ear, tell you about my fears, my pain, my triumphs and hopefully in the process help you become more self-aware, build your own emotional intelligence, and more than anything else, FEEL LESS ALONE.”

It drops every Tuesday and has become one of my favorite listens on the drive to work. I missed this Tuesday’s episode so I caught up this morning and wow, did it hit home and put into perspective what I was blogging about yesterday that I didn’t know at the time I was blogging about. Does that make sense? 

If you missed it, yesterday’s blog Cutting Loose Ends talked about how I’ve been struggling with carrying the thoughts and opinions of others while trying to fight the urge to self-isolate and block out. Let’s not get it twisted, it’s still annoying how much people dump on unsuspecting souls. The trick is to not let it stick and define you.

Yesterday I think was I was blogging about (but didn’t know it at the time) struggling with perfectionism and after this morning’s episode about striving for IMPERFECTION, it gave me some perspective on what I wrote about yesterday, weird right?

Here’s why letting go of perfectionism will help me let go of other people’s actions:

Trying to ‘live up’ to other people’s expectations is a waste of damn time. I want to be successful both personally and professionally. This need to excel at excellence means trying to do everything to the best of my ability, a.k.a. as close to perfect and efficient as possible and I don’t want to let anyone down so I put a lot of value in what others think and say about me (which pains me to write because ew, I wish this wasn’t true) and forget I do this, hence yesterday’s frustration.

This does nothing but distracts me from my own inner voice. I know me, so I should listen to her more often because when I’m constantly filling my head with what others have put on me, it stifles my inner thoughts and feelings. So fuck that shit, I need to be more self-aware so I can internally combat this.

She continues on to say:

“What if we just decided to be imperfect?”

Being comfortable with being imperfect actually helps us achieve more since we’re not overwhelming ourselves with undue pressure. “Let’s not worry so much,” Jen says. “Let’s not try and strive for something that actually isn’t achievable because you just end up feeling awful all the time.”

“We still need to have aspirations, but what if what we aspired to was to be better than great and less than perfect? I think we could manage that.”

She lists three sweet spots to focus on while striving for imperfection, here they are:

  1. Say no to the ‘having it all’ culture – this doesn’t help you focus on the now. When you focus on the ‘having it now’ aspect of life, it forces you to dismiss the achievements of today and yesterday and leaves you feeling never enough or satisfied. Let’s collectively agree to knock this behavior off!
  2. It’s okay to fail – all I have to say about this one is if you never fail how are you supposed to learn? Growth comes from standing up after falling and learning from your mistakes. Let’s all agree to fail a little harder!
  3. Done is better than perfect mentality – I suck at this one, it was even hard to write, but I can acknowledge what it’s trying to convey. If you get tied up in all the little details nothing will ever move forward. This isn’t promoting laziness, it’s promoting to take a breath in the middle of that big project and acknowledge the fact it’s not going to be perfect no matter how hard you strive for it (project, relationship, the dream) to be. Focus on completing it, not all the little tiny ways it’s going to be a shitshow.

Hopefully, this helps you in the same way it helped me peel back the foggy layer that was suffocating my brain yesterday. Gotch ended the episode by asking her listeners to ditch perfectionism and do ‘all of the things you’re waiting to be perfect, to do.” Challenge accepted, and I hope you join me.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude about seeing my brother-in-law tonight and having a cookout! What are you feeling gratitude towards? Let me know in the comment section, below. 

Cultivate it.

play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

 

My Skin Feels Too Heavy To Carry

Have you ever felt so depleted of energy that even your skin feels too heavy to carry? Thank Zeus it’s Friday. I need the next two days to get my shit together even though I feel like even if I had two weeks time, it still wouldn’t be enough because I’m so damn far behind.

Most of my anxiety has come from two silent weeks of no prospects in interviews for my (wannabe) podcast with a looming September deadline. I’m starting to feel failure set in even though there is ample time to problem solve and the anticipation of failure is enough to drown me and wash the entire dream dry.

 

What about these books I keep claiming to have in the chamber? I thought of another good idea for a book this morning while driving to work, listening to another audiobook (Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay), so if you’ve lost count that’s a potential three books I’m probably not going to write.

Each time I start to imagine writing said books my brain freaks out. How do I even submit a book? I don’t want to get an agent, but hardly any publishing companies accept unsolicited work. What’s best practice, how do you start, what’s MY writing process? I spin and spin until the only way to end it is to ignore.

The next phase is usually obsessing over everything I’m not doing, could be doing better, and/or simmering over shit I can’t change, which turns into wondering what the fuck I’ll be doing in twenty years and if I’ve accomplished anything I set out to do when I first began to dream.

I’m spirling.

It goes on for a couple days and then I snap my ass back into reality and get shit done. Usually, I chalk up this series of berating and self-loathing to my nasty shame gremlins being hard at work but I think I’ve figured out the trigger.

Whenever I have a good hard week or two, etc. of productivity where I exert all of my creative energy both physically and mentally to finish a project on time and successfully knock it out of the park, it leads to me feeling empty. Idle hands as they say…

This emptiness makes me nervous. Will this project (or whatever it is) be the last best thing I do? Was that it, my last spark? How am I going to best myself once more? Tick, tick, tick, tick. Worry, worry, worry.

Not to mention, people drain me. The everyday interaction required to be social is one more activity to add to my anxiety. We all play a role at home, at work, and with friends. It always feels fine when the interaction is in play, but when I come home I’ll think back on my day and stress out over what I should’ve said or done.

Add that to a long yet productive week and it leaves me feeling like my skin is too heavy to carry; spirling.

A blue fish in a Disney Pixar movie once mentioned the idea, just keep swimming. Some days I think living by this phrase is easier when your memory is has a reset button every 60-seconds, and other days I remind myself success isn’t about the destination, it’s about enjoying the wild ride to the top.

In order to get to the next crazy hump, one must keep swimming. 

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for every breath I take. What are you feeling gratitude towards? Let me know in the comment section, below. Night friends. 

Cultivate it.I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

The Difference Between True Belonging & Fitting In

School was out for the next couple days because a snowstorm blew through upstate New York and I was excited to have the day off to play in the snow. After getting bundled up and prepared to be in the frigid temperatures until exhausted from fun, I went outside to find my two siblings to play.

After searching the front and backyard, checking the neighbor’s yard and woods behind both our houses, I found them hiding behind a snowbank across the street. They were making snowballs and giggling.

When I went to jump into the ditch with them, they both scowled before letting me know I wasn’t invited. “Go away, you’ll tell on us. You’re no fun.”

“You’re no fun,” was a phrase I was familiar with, both my parents used it to fling it at me when I didn’t laugh at their jokes or understand what they thought was so funny. My siblings and parents shared this and no matter how hard I tried to fit in with the jokes and fun, it never worked.

I tried to be fun for years and then succumbed to believing I wasn’t fun and lived out their truth.

After reading through the first half of Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown I finally felt like someone understood how I felt when it came to family.

She speaks about the moment she didn’t feel like she belonged in her family and how it affected her until she was in her mid-forties.

“Even in the context of suffering–poverty, violence, human rights violations–not belonging in our families is still one of the most dangerous hurts. That’s because it has the power to break our heart, our spirit, and our sense of self-worth. It broke all three for me”

– Braving The Wilderness, page 14

And when our heart, spirit, and sense of self-worth breaks, there are only three outcomes according to Brown’s research data…

  1. You live in constant pain and seek relief by numbing it/and or inflicting it on others;
  2. You deny your pain, and your denial ensures that you pass it on to those around you and down to your children; or
  3. You find the courage to own the pain and develop a level of empath and compassion for yourself and others that allow you to spot hurt in the world in a unique way.

The pain I feel is deep, so deep I don’t even know where the roots are to rip them out of my being. While I’m no expert, I will honestly tell you I’m extremely good at doing numbers one and two.

For years I tried to fit-in and for years got rejected, but I continually knocked on that door hoping it’d open and the outcome would change (not just with family).

Constantly setting myself up for disappointment made me the expert at numbers one and two. Anger has been my shield for MANY years and honestly, I’m still fucking angry.

I’m afraid of losing my anger armor. If I don’t have anger protecting me, then who am I and what will happen to me if I leave myself vulnerable and open to other emotions?

In Braving The Wilderness, Brene defines the difference between fitting-in and true belonging which sounds simple because on face value who doesn’t know the difference between fitting in and belonging? It’s in the word.

Her clarification between the two words was the flashlight I needed to start navigating my way out of the cave.

“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in an by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitues for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

She goes on to add true belonging also includes having the courage to stand alone when it’s needed, and feel comfortable with that decision. i.e. standing up for what you believe in wholeheartedly, even when you’re surrounded by different opinions.

I’ve been trying to fit into family and friend relationships for my entire life, basing my worth off what they’d give me in return. You get told throughout life that ‘family is everything’ and ‘all you have is your family,’ so it’s a confusing message when you don’t feel like you’ve ever belonged which makes it even more difficult to stop knocking at the door.

This new understanding of true belonging has lifted a burden off my shoulders I didn’t know was there. True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are, therefore freeing me of the responsibility to feel like I need to fit in.

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place–you belong every place–no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” — Maya Angelou

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for the relationships I have at my office. 

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

I Know Suicide

I’ve had two friends try to commit suicide and another one succeed. Once when I was seventeen, and twice within one month when I was twenty. These experiences are why I have zero tolerance for those feigning ignorance regarding suicide and mental illness, and why 1-800-273-8255 Your Life Matters might’ve sounded like a rant…

Two days ago I wanted to write this blog instead but chickened out because I didn’t want to come across as insensitive or bragging…I don’t know, my anxiety was telling me I’d fuck up the delivery and I didn’t want to disrespect anyone.

What’s changed? I believe understanding mental illness and all of its tangled branches is important to our growth as a population AND community. We need to do the work, together, and how does that happen? By talking about it.

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We were seventeen and extremely close. Every night after school we’d meet under the street light, sit on the curb and talk about our day, our future goals and what our parents did to piss us off.

After months and months of spending time together, we tried to date. It only lasted a week. It just didn’t feel right, we were SO close. The day after we broke up he skipped class and hung out with a mutual friend.

At the end of the day, that same friend came running to my house after dropping him off to ask, “what the fuck did you do? He said he wanted to try the 24 pills in the 24-hours thing, he’s been out of it all day and I don’t know how many, if any, he’s already taken.”

Before he could finish his sentence I had sprinted off towards his house in just my socks. My heart was pounding louder than I was pounding on his front door. His two sisters answered, the youngest one in tears begging me to not call the police (he was on probation for drugs).

He was laid up on the couch, unconscious. His face didn’t look normal and I freaked out, jumped on top of him and shook him while screaming his name until one of his eyes opened and then rolled to the back of his head.

I was shouting questions to keep him awake while his youngest sister was shouting, “please don’t call the cops, mom will be home soon. He can’t go back to juvie!”

So I didn’t.

Instead, I went back home and waited, and waited, and waited. Deep down I knew I should’ve called 911. I fucked up, he was going to die. I sat on the front porch waiting and waiting.

Finally, sirens came.

All I remember is running out to the front yard and losing it in the lawn. He spent two days in the hospital, got his stomach pumped and the story his mother told was, “she had hidden her muscle relaxers in her migraine medicine bottle. It was her fault he had taken the wrong pills.”

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We were closing together and it had been a long night. We both had gotten our ass kicked with the late dinner rush and per usual, I was behind the grill helping push tickets out. It was stressful but my coworker was feeling the pressure more so than me.

For the past couple of weeks, he had been living life medication free and not by choice. A problem with insurance refusing to cover its portion of the payment for his meds left him powerless and unable to afford his stabilizer.

He suffered from schizophrenia. When he was on his meds you’d never know, but when he was off them, you knew.

This night hadn’t been his night. He had lost his temper on an elder couple when they spilled their drink and demanded he clean it up and bring them another. Instead of letting it go he walked out with a child’s sippy cup and told them, “this might suit you better.”

The couple complained and he got reprimanded by the manager on duty. After the scolding, it went south fast. We got our ass kicked, food wasn’t coming out quick enough and when I jumped on the grill to help he lashed out.

“Where the fuck is my food!” he shouted while launching the stack of grill trays toward me on the other side. I responded with an equal amount of anger and chucked a plate in his direction.

He disappeared.

Me and one other server were stuck trying to play clean up and catch up.

I found him later mumbling in the breakroom, pacing and unable to sit still. All I remember is he kept repeating, “tell my mom I love her.” When I pushed for him to explain he bolted out of the breakroom.

He had been writing suicide notes and had only managed to grab two of three he had written. After finding and reading the note I brought it to my manager’s attention. My manager claimed, “he’s doing it for attention, forget about it and go home.”

I called the cops anyways.

They put him in holding, got him his meds and he now lives in South Florida.

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She didn’t have a stable schedule at work. She’d work for months and then I wouldn’t see her for weeks. Sometimes she was the life of the shift, made the hustle fun, had a joke for every moment and was full of life. 

Other times you couldn’t approach her. She was silent, deadpanned, and unresponsive no matter how hard you tried to make her smile.

“Not today Shannon,” my coworker (who had been around awhile and knew her the best) would tell me. “Today isn’t her day.”

She suffered from depression and bipolar. She was in her late forties, still lived with her mother and didn’t have any family of her own.

After a couple of years knowing her and honestly being pleasantly surprised each time my shift coincided with hers, one day she didn’t show up.

The next day we found out she had committed suicide, Mom found her. The hardest part was working the next week knowing when she was supposed to be there and having to pretend like it didn’t happen. Nobody wanted to talk about it, not the managers or a majority of coworkers.

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The first story I shared is mostly why I didn’t want to write this post. I carried guilt for many years, even despite the fact we were still friends for a while after this instance. It felt like his family and our mutual friends blamed me.

For the few who knew, his overdose was never mentioned without noting I had broken up with him.

I now know this wasn’t fair. He had been struggling for many months with hard drugs, pills and staying in school. Me breaking up with him wasn’t mean or “the ultimate friend zone” jab. The relationship didn’t feel right when after I was expected to kiss him, and I couldn’t pretend because it wouldn’t be fair to either one of us.

He was depressed and struggling to fit in at home. He had his own issues to sort out with no information or help from the adults in his life. Bottom line, he (and everyone else) is responsible for his own actions. He popped the pills.

The second story opened my eyes to the importance of having affordable access to medication and truly understanding a person with mental illness is powerless to their disease when left without meds.

He couldn’t help it how he acted off his meds. If he had a choice I’m sure he would’ve chosen to not manage life with schizophrenia.

And for the third story, I don’t think I ever grieved her death. Whenever her name got brought up it fell quiet, so we all pretended like it didn’t happen and never let ourselves go there. It’s like she never existed, and that makes me extremely sad because she was an incredible lady.

There’s a bit of information or understanding to be learned from all three narratives, and I hope it further drives home my point that mental health matters. You’re life matters and may we all remember, everyone is fighting their own daily secret battles, so be kind.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for these three difficult life experiences that opened my eyes to a whole other (semi) understanding of the importance of mental health. What are you feeling grateful for?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my personal journey about understanding myself more with the hopes it’ll help someone else in the twenty-something/pushing thirty struggles.

Starved for Joy and Hungry for Gratitude

If you starve yourself of joy, the best way to combat this tendency is to practice gratitude. Here’s what I learned in chapter 4: The Vulnerability Armor of Daring Greatly.

In a culture of deep scarcity–of never feeling safe, certain, and sure enough–joy can feel like a setup. Everyone in the family is healthy. No major crises are happening. The house is still standing. i’m working out and feeling good, Oh, shit. This is bad, disaster is right around the corner. 

Hold the phone. Other people do this, too? You mean my secret (subconscious?) way of dealing with the too good vibes isn’t an original plan? You’re telling me this is one of the three ways people evade vulnerability and I fit into one of those damn boxes!?

To be honest, I don’t know if I’m more annoyed that a STRANGER is calling my shit out or that I’m becoming an annoying Brene Brown Superfan. Ooh! Or that I’m not as original or skilled at dodging emotions as I thought an hour ago.

So here are the three types of ways people shield vulnerability.

  1. Foreboding Joy – never allowing yourself to feel joyful because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  2. Perfectionism – the belief that if you look and act perfectly it will help you avoid pain and /or shame.
  3. Numbing – dulling our emotions, personal feelings, and being a busy-holic to avoid what’s at the root of your own personal problems.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has figured out how to shield vulnerability by foreboding joy.  Except I didn’t know that’s what I was doing until page 119 in Daring Greatly. #smdh

Do you do this, too? The second you feel too happy, too joyful, or too good, you immediately stop, drop, and let your imagination run to all the worst possible scenarios that could jeopardize the joy your feeling moments before your head takes over?

You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand in solidarity (actually I’m raising both damn hands) because I’m so suspect of good vibes I believe I’m actually un-jinxing it by worrying about all the potential bad.

Never do I ever want to be unprepared for ‘what’s the worst that could happen?” Hands down my number one fear. Well, it’s tied for first apparently. Vulnerability is trying to take the trophy.

What makes you feel vulnerable? Give yourself a second to think about it…then scroll to hear mine.

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Photo by Sven Scheuermeier

Love makes me feel vulnerable. I don’t want to love anyone or anyone to love me, that way if something bad happens (divorce, death) it’s easier to recover.

Being pregnant. You’re not out running danger or anyone trying to harm you while 8-months preggers. And it’s quite obvious you’re vulnerable, no hiding it.

Too many good occurrences happening all at once or systematically. Shit like that doesn’t happen to me, the shoe always drops so don’t enjoy it for too long because when it does hit the fan, it’ll be harder to recover.

I used to think the best way to go through life was to expect the worst. That way, if it happened, you were prepared, and if it didn’t happen, you were pleasantly surprised. Then I was in a car accident and my wife was killed. Needless to say, ecpecting the worst didn’t repare me at all. And worse, I still grieve for all those wonderful moments we shared, that I didn’t fully enjoy.

– A man in his early sixties, Daring Greatly pg. 120

I don’t want to starve myself of joy and according to my boo Brown, the best way to turn the tables on foreboding joy is by practicing gratitude.

When I first read the bolded title, I snorted. Like, I am grateful. I don’t live on the streets, in a third-world country or in Russia, so how the hell else am I’m going to be grateful?

Nope, missed the point.

This is how I interpreted it: Yes, there are others in worse situations than you, but you are ENOUGH and deserve to feel gratitude for your own life. She recommends keeping a gratitude journal and making an entry once a day. This way you practice appreciating all of life’s big and small moments.

There are only two days in my entire life that I can whole-heartily say nothing could touch me because I was on cloud nine and truly enjoying the joy. Those two days were my wedding day and when I graduated college.

I don’t want to die and only be able to actually feel only two days of joy out of my entire life. So as ridiculous as it sounds to me, I’m going to start a gratitude journal (better than a food journal, right?) and acknowledge gratitude at the end of each blog.

Keep me accountable 😉

Currently feeling grateful for: the hot tub at my apartment. 
It's the only place the Hubs and I can communicate effectively 
with no distractions.

What are you grateful for today?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online.