There’s a quaint little expression, that I’m sure you’re all very familiar with, “if you never try, then you’ll never know“
Cryptic? Yes. Cliché? Absolutely. Accurate? Without a doubt. It’s an undeniable fact, that in order to move forward, you literally just have to move. Period. You can’t get anywhere without simply putting one foot in front of the other, and trying. This is applicable to a million different situations, both figurative and literal in nature. From the simple act of dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, and blindly maneuvering to the closest source of caffeine. To something more profound, such as deciding what you love the most in this world and creating a meaningful life around it. My belief is that the bigger the try and the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. This is not to say that bigger is necessarily always better, but we’ll save that debate for another day. To further illustrate my point – and I promise I have one – allow me to direct you to some red hot examples.
Starting from the top of the stack:
What if my guy, Otis Redding, the absolute King of Southern Soul, hadn’t realized that his time in Dawson, Georgia had reached an expiration date, no longer propelling his impending musical legacy forward. In order for him to move ahead, he needed to make a change. What if he didn’t pack up his bags and take the heel toe express over to LA in 1960? Pause. Imagine a world without oxygen. No thanks, I’m all set. Circling back: Someone please explain to me where 99% of marriages and rom-com soundtracks would be without the galactic force that was and still is “Try a Little Tenderness“. Absolutely nowhere good, that’s where. Additionally, decades later, Kanye and Jay Z would be down a few dollars, and one very catchy chune, circa 2011 Throwback Alert. Pulling into my next stop on the road, chalk full of examples: Perhaps, a certain scientific duo made in heaven, otherwise known as Benji Franklin, featuring Tommy Edison? I’m not sure if I speak for myself on this one, but I’ve got a lot of time for not sitting in my living room in the dark, after the sun sets every day. And moreover, zero time for being a pioneer – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Electricity, keep doing what you’re doing, we’re all very into it. Conclusively, if these delightfully brilliant individuals didn’t get out there, while unapologetically doing their thing, taking a couple questionable risks along the way, our whole entire world would be an exponentially less soulful and convenient place. And personally, I’d take not freezing in total and complete darkness during the winter months, while listening to Sitting by the Dock of the Bay, over the latter, any day of the week. Mix in some red wine, now it’s a party. Mic drop.
To switch gears, on to a more personal and hopefully relatable tangent, I can attest to the fact that sometimes the first step in the right direction, can be the hardest one of all. To find the motivation and courage to realize that you’re not where you’re meant to be can be extraordinarily daunting and uncertain. But 26 years as an occupant of Earth has taught me that hindsight is a beautiful thing. There’s no better feeling than looking back, and being able to internally give yourself a high five, satisfied that you made the move to greener pastures. Now, I’m not saying that you have to become an international soul sensation, or the inventor of an absolutely clutch household item, such as the lightbulb… But, instead, figure out what makes you tick, what it is that you want to accomplish, trust yourself and your journey, and follow that path as passionately, authentically and relentlessly as you can.
How do you figure this out? Trial and error. Sometimes you fall flat on your face, and other times you blow yourself away. I, myself, am not a gambler. But, I encourage you to get out there and roll the dice, baby. Confidence paired with fearlessness, it’s a hard battle to lose. In either scenario, you’re learning about yourself, and more importantly, about how you handle success and recover from failure. I’m convinced that having the ability to do this with tact cannot be taught, but rather, acquired through experience. The way in which a person picks themselves up after suffering a blow to ego is what defines them, not the event itself. There are few things less savory than a sore loser or someone who takes themselves too seriously. Crocs, barometric pressure migraines, unwelcome conversations in the gym changing room and cargo shorts being a close second. Someone had to say it.
To date, I have followed what feels like at least a hundred different winding roads, that have lead me to where I am today. This process can be frustrating, and doesn’t generally happen overnight. Cliché alert: Rome and Beyoncé were not built in a day, and neither was this pop culture spin off to an old, wise saying. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our parents were right: if it comes easy, it’s probably too good to be true (if you listen carefully you can hear the overdramatic exhale of my 13 year old self, accompanied by a drawn out eye roll). Every time I felt as though I’d reached a comfortable destination, be it professionally or personally, I made the most of it, thinking it was the correct path, until realizing that it was not. Lesson #235: Never get too comfortable. It’s usually a sign that you’ve stopped growing into something better. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying different things on, and seeing how they fit. From these past experiences, I feel wiser in knowing what works for me and what does not, and ultimately created a framework for what I want in life and how I want to get there. That said, this plan will continue to change, as you can’t control what various curve balls that life has in store. Part of discovering your best self, and happiest life, is to be open to change and to never stop evolving and exploring. Be honest with yourself, and keep your expectations realistic. More often than not, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I’m pleased to say, that I’m overwhelmingly happy with where I’ve landed, but I know that I’ll never stop changing and growing and redefining my best self. And hopefully one day, become the next Otis Redding… Maybe just in the shower.