I have a problem... I am addicted to potential. Goals, ambition, talent and possibility are like drugs to me. I can sense them a mile away and then when I get near them, I just want to cover myself in the vastness of their "could bes". When I meet someone that does something interesting (or not), I can't help myself; I instantly start dreaming up ways they could go from being an expert to being a pioneer... from being an associate to being an executive... from being a business owner to being a mogul... from being talented to being a prodigy.
In some ways, this is great. My office at work has become known (to some) as the place to get inspired- which I love. Coworkers come to me feeling dead-ended and we dream up ideas and plans, and I'm not sure if it's them or me that's more lit up by the end of our conversation... and that- THAT is the tricky part.
This week, quite honestly, has sucked. My whole house has been down with a cold, my shoulder's been acting funky, which has affected my workouts, which has affected my eating habits, work has been a madhouse with no slowing down on the horizon, I've been tossing around a lot of weighty ideas around in my head and my heart, I had a nuclear fight with a friend...the list goes on. I've been off-kilter for some reasons I'm hyper aware of, and some that are just now rising to the surface.
My addiction to potential- specifically other peoples' potential, is one of those "just rising to the surface" issues. This week slapped me across the face with the realization that I have absolutely no control over whether or not someone reaches their potential, and in turn, my expectations. I've been accused of having too-high expectations often... An accusation that, yes, is sometimes warranted, but not something I always understand. What I expect, simply, is that people live up to their potential. It's a blessing and a curse that I believe most people live under their capabilities (myself NOT excluded). It means that pride is hard-earned with me, and lack of ambition or direction is incomprehensible. I don't expect the 65 year old janitor at my office building to suddenly become a nuclear physicist- No. But I expect people to utilize their natural talents and the resources available to them to do awesome things because they can...and if you can, you should, because not everybody can.
Whether or not someone chooses to live up to their potential, is their problem. My problem (one of many), is that I directly insert myself into their process. I take it personally when I spend hours brainstorming with someone and it never turns into anything concrete. I get frustrated when something that seemed monumental in a conversation turns lukewarm when it's being brought to life. Why? Where does the mojo go? With some people, I feel this, shrug it off with a "it's not my life" and move on. But when it's people important to me... it's futile. I push and prod, trying to diagnose where their "on" button is, just so I can hit it again. I "remind" (read: nag) them about goals and talent and possibilities. If I've brainstormed or served as a sounding board, or advised on anything, I become deeply entrenched in the emotion of it, and I don't know how to untangle myself from that. It's as is I've seen an entire movie but the last 25 minutes, and it's in someone else's hands to tell me whether or not it's a happy ending. I'll either shamelessly beg for conclusion, in turn pushing someone that I care about away, or I'll sit and wait forever- looking at a dark screen, believing that the sheer presence of me being there might inspire some light to flicker.
What I never understood, or could grasp, was that my emphatic belief in someones' goodness, in their potential, would reflect as pressure... and in some cases paralyzing pressure. I'm seeing that my sincere interest in having someone do something awesome has not defined me as a cheerleader, but in some cases, a slave driver... someone people need to be recharged because of, not recharged by.
And that's sad. And surprising...and not. Because I've just always kind of been like this. I remember when I was 5 or 6 singing with a couple girl friends in the basement of my house and one of my friends had a very pretty little voice, but I didn't like the way she was singing something and I told her so. I told her so not because I didn't think she was talented, but because I thought she was, and, with her talent, she deserved to be more than just "good". I hadn't thought of it till now, but I don't know that my friend sang around me much more after that. I don't know that she sang much at all anymore, when my intent in saying anything critical to her, was to "help" her do opposite. It's been a joke from childhood to my adult life that I am "bossy", which I never understood because to me, I wasn't bossy for the sake of having things go my way, I was bossy because I believe(d) I saw a better solution and it wasn't worth trying all the wrong ways to get to right one.
For those that are close to me, it's pretty well-known that I'm to-the-point. There's not much digging you'll have to do to get to the core of my motives, because I like to tell the truth, I LOVE to talk, and really, I think my purpose in doing and saying what I do is fairly self-explanatory. But that's just what I think. Who would have thought it would take me 28 years to realize that there are lot of people in this world...and not all of them can or will speak my language?
So, I think I need to do what I can to redirect my addiction to other peoples' stuff, and start focusing on my own potential. I, obviously, have spent much of 2013 working on getting some things in order, starting crossfit, etc, but it seems like I'm far too easily derailed by the decisions and actions of others because of the emotional investment I put into their choices. I write novels in my mind about the what-ifs and potential of other peoples' lives, when I really need to be doing that for myself. I deserve that kind of attention and energy, and I, unlike a lot of people, speak my own language.
I think I've been waiting to be a part of a story. I've been waiting to be folded into a fairy tale that someone else writes...and that...that's not my style. Yes- I want to see the people I love succeed, find love, do something revolutionary, have ridiculous, absurd happiness...but I deserve all that too. Maybe by shifting my focusing to bringing those things into my own life, for myself, I can remove the expectation (pressure) from my other relationships, and then anything my other "people" do is pretty awesome, even if it's not the "revolutionary" I might have had mapped out for them.
I've always wanted to make a difference in the world through touching peoples' lives...and I thought the way to do that was to actually come down and quite literally touch, handle, and rearrange other peoples' lives. I obviously am realizing that's not getting me (or them) anywhere quickly. Maybe the best way to truly touch someone's life is to stop trying to touch, and just live by example.... Allow those who you wish would work harder to see you work harder... allow those who you wish would love deeper to see you love deeper...
A new friend of mine is a musician in town who is pretty much independent. He said when people ask him who he works with, he replies, "Me... I'm betting on me". Betting on me. Huh. It's a foreign concept, because I continuously will put my money on anyone else. My virtual portfolio of outcomes seems to have very little "me" in it, and way too much of everyone else. I think it's time that shifts.
Over the next few months, I have some goals I'm setting for myself that I'll be blogging about here, as I "bet on me" and learn to get comfortable with the idea of NOT being involved in other peoples' paths, and staying committed to my own. I'm calling it my Personal Potential Project (working title ;) ). Here are some things I'm out to accomplish:
So, if you're close to me, and you see me getting entrenched in your story, remind me of the above... Remind me that I have my own story to write, and star in. I'm excited to see what happens when I let go of the need to push other people, and focus on the goal of pushing myself. :)