Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Stepping out of my comfort zone at Burning Man 2012
I've been trying to write this blog post for days now. It seems that even writing about stepping out of my comfort zone is uncomfortable and challenging.

A night or so ago I sat on my makeshift bed of a futon cushion which sits on the floor of my studio apartment and read through old blog posts from this blog. Going all the way to the beginning of the blog when I wrote about leaving the accounting world and living a more authentic life, I discovered that I am, again, back in that same space where I was almost 4 years ago.  Learning to let go.

Four years ago I left the safety of a 9 to 5 accounting job and picked up my camera with the intention of living a life that was more authentic to my soul. No more 9 to 5 jobs. I wanted to find my work, my calling, my authentic self. There was a period of time where I had to talk myself through the panic but then I found myself moving back towards the "safety" of a 9 to 5 through temporary work.  Slowly over those 4 years that temporary work became a permanent position, outside of the world of accounting, yes, but still nothing that was fulfilling. I felt trapped once again.

(I use quotes around the word 'safe' and 'safety' because, in all honesty, who really is safe in their jobs these days? In a world where so many are still unemployed and starving for work, we are all replaceable.)

Here I am, again, back in that space where I know the 9 to 5 is not for me and I'm doing my best to piece together an income that will sustain and support me while I find that thing that not only feeds my soul but fills my bank account. This time I am constantly talking myself through the panic, almost moment by moment, and doing what I'm sure most around me are doing, wondering why I just don't go back to the 9 to 5 instead of stressing about whether or not I'm going to make rent next month.

As some would say, "She's an accountant. Why doesn't she just go and do that again? She'd make more money." Well, here's the thing about that: I've been out of the game for 4 years and when I left it, I let it all go. I honestly can't remember how to do it. I tried to take an online bookkeeping test and failed it miserably. Plus, I don't have any recent experience. So, let's put that thinking away now, shall we? Thanks.

What I'm doing differently this time is the thing that I have been struggling to get but am finally getting. Instead of focusing on and stressing over figuring out exactly what that work is (because it could be something no one knows about or has even thought of yet), I am focusing on how I want to feel while I do that work and how I want to feel about that work. I'm focusing on how I want my life to feel to me.

There's a video on the interwebs of a commencement speech that Jim Carrey gave last month. I had no idea that the man was so profound. For the last week I've been watching that speech before starting my day because there are so many things in it that speak to me right now while I sit in this space. Here is the full video:

When I listened to it the third day in a row, there was one thing stood out to me the most. So much so that I stopped the video and went back to it to hear it again so I could write it down. While I wrote it down, I could feel the tears starting to form. What I wrote down was this:

"My job is not to figure out how to make it happen, it's to open the door in my mind. When that door opens in my life, all I have to do is walk through it." 

In that moment, I realized that so much of my life has been spent trying to figure out how to make my life look and feel the way I want it to.  That's where my focus has been. I've dreamed of things that I've wanted in my life but my first thought has always been, "What do I have to do to get it?" I am a fixer. My mind goes directly to problem solving and fixing things, figuring out how to make it happen. It hasn't worked out so well for me so I am switching gears.

My task now is to focus on the "what" and let go of the "how". It's a bit of a challenge, to say the least. The day before yesterday on my way to my shift at the doggy daycare I started really thinking about what to ask the Universe for. How do I want my life to feel and look like? Even in coming up with those things I was very much aware of where my mind was going as I drove down the road. It was trying to see how it was I was going to get there. Where those thoughts were really going were dead ends. Every single one. I couldn't see how I was going to make my life look and feel the way I want it to. Finally I yelled out loud, "Let it go, Wen!"

It's not possible for me to think up all of the scenarios the Universe has to make my life the way I want it to be so I need to stop trying. That is an incredibly limited way of thinking and does nothing but hold me in this struggle. Asking for what I want and letting go of the how while I work towards a life I want to live, that's what I am doing this time around.

Before I wrap this post up I have to share another video with you. It's a long one but I highly suggest taking the time to watch it. It's an interview with Brene' Brown by one of the photographers I follow, Chase Jarvis. I can't even begin to recap all of the great stuff in this interview but the one thing that stood out for me is them talking about vulnerability and creativity. One of the quotes from it is, "There is no creativity without vulnerability." Brilliant. Another thing I wrote down while watching it is, "If it's uncomfortable, it's the right thing to do." Also, "It's not about winning or losing, it's about having the guts to show up and be seen without knowing the outcome." Seriously. So much good stuff.