No one’s going to do it for you.
This is the pep talk I give myself to get shit done. It started with little stuff–unloading the dishwasher, scooping the litter boxes, taking out the trash, and assorted other mundanities of daily life I wanted to ignore. But as my desires to be more and feel more and have more got heavier this year so too did the weight of what it means to be alone in making your way.
It’s not sad, really, but empowering. It’s a simple but firm reminder that you make your own way in this world, that you’re in charge of what you’re doing and where you’re going and how you react to what’s going on around you because no one else is going to do it for you.
So I started applying my pep talk to bigger things I’d also been trying to ignore. No one’s going to ask for a raise for you, quit your job for you, start a business for you, go back to school for you, give up for you. No one’s going to say “I love you” or “I need help” or “Goodbye” for you. No one’s going to dive in, step back or start over for you.
I’m a big supporter of and believer in Danielle Laporte and the way she looks at the world. Last year I devoured her book The Desire Map and carefully plotted out what she calls my “core desired feelings,” the five words that describe how I want to feel and thus dictate what I need to do to get there.
At first, draft one of my core desired feelings really resonated. I started readjusting some things in my life to move me in the direction of feeling the way I wanted to feel–bold, fresh, playful–and some of it worked. But there were other things that felt forced or stagnant, and just yesterday I figured out why.
In this video Danielle talks about how powerful the subtle nuances in the semantics of our core desired feelings can be. Wanting to feel “respected,” for example, is a lot different that wanting to feel (or be) respect. Wanting to feel “loved” is not the same as wanting to feel (or be) love.
I noticed that a lot of my core desired feelings ended in that -ed that put the responsibility of my desire into the hands of someone else. Not surprisingly, I wanted to feel loved, treasured, challenged, valued. These are nice, reasonable things to want, but here’s the thing: I set myself up so that in order to feel the things I wanted to feel and have the things I truly desired, someone would have to do it for me. Someone would have to love me, challenge me, value me, assure me, and this left me a helpless bystander to my own life, holding my breath for (you guessed it) someone to do it for me.
I am admittedly anti-Christmas, a real modern day Scrooge. I always want it to feel like it did when I was a kid and, shocker, it never does. This is because as a kid someone else puts a lot of work into making Christmas special for you. It’s the beauty of being young and dependent and not yet able (or required) to take charge of your own life.
But with age and independence comes responsibility (and freedom!) and now it’s my job to make the season special for myself. So last night I dragged myself to the Christmas tree farm, picked out the cutest stubby little four-foot tree on the lot, covered it in an over-the-top 200 lights and 50 ornaments, and realized I am the only one who will see it. Literally no one will walk through my door between now and next Friday when I leave to fly home to Chicago.
That used to stop me from trying to set up the season because I had this assumption that it was a wasted effort to do things just for me, like it only counts if someone else sees it and affirms its reality. And this is the fatal flaw not only in how I decorate for the holidays but in how I want to feel, too. I thought my desires only counted if someone else sees them and affirms their reality. I let the way I want to feel ride on the presence of someone else. So this year I put the tree up by myself and for myself because no one is going to do it for me.