I got an email from a young woman the other day asking me to blog about starting a new life...specifically a new life in Nashville (I'll get to that), but it got me thinking about "beginning again" in general.
Anyone who knows me (or follows my blogs) knows that the last year or so of my life has been transformative, to say the least. Emotions and circumstances I use to avoid like the plague- fear, hunger (literal and figurative), pain, heartache- have become some of my favorite things to embrace. I know that sounds crazy.... My "favorite" thing to embrace is heartache? Really? Why?
Embracing things that make us feel yucky isn't easy, but the answer for why it is absolutely necessary is pretty simple: When something hurts, it moves you. No one likes to stay in a place that is painful, so action is easy to take.
The caveat: So many of us, when we feel pain, recognize the immediate need to move, and logically, the quickest place to move TO is where we've moved FROM-- it's familiar, the path is known. Even if where we've come from is mediocre (at best) and toxic (at worst), we know how to get "home", no matter how much we DON'T want to be there, and the pain of being scared, uncomfortable or hungry for more is hard to move through, and impossible to stay in. But, the trick to turning surviving into thriving is in recognizing the "fight or flight" instinct and to choose FORWARD MOTION. No. Going. Back. Ever.
Whatever "hurt" you end up experiencing, you're experiencing because at some point, for some amount of time, you decided that what you had was no longer enough, was no longer acceptable or no longer bearable. Whatever "hurt" you have, you chose it. I remember before I set many changes in motion in my own life, I read and embraced an important quote: "You will change when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of growth". I didn't know the specifics of where I was going, or what I ultimately wanted, but if someone had told me that 5, 10 years from that moment I would be doing the exact.same.thing I would have been horrified. So, change was the only option. I chose change. I chose hurt.
My parents are two of my greatest role models and some of the most successful, generous, lovely humans I know. When I was recently home visiting, I came across an old letter from my grandfather. It outlined a challenging time in my mom's life. She was about my age. Things were far from perfect (the details aren't important). And if you met my mom- a 55 year old dynamo who has a great body, and looks like she's in her 30s, an incredibly successful career doing what she loves, gorgeous homes and a happy, healthy family- you would never guess that there was a time in her life that was anything less than perfect, let alone a struggle. But there was.
So often, we see the END result of someone's success, someone's story and we fill in the blanks. We see their road to their "happy ending" as being a steady, uphill climb to a beautiful summit, but that's never the case.
I'd be willing to wager that almost every successful person you will ever meet- the REAL successes, not the "born into it and successful by default" folks- have had some pretty messy stories that could have sidelined them.
I'll be real with you, because, truth is one thing I'm committed to: I'm happier than I've ever been, finally doing EVERYTHING I once dreamt about, and actually making headway doing it- and on an almost DAILY basis, I wonder if I made the right decisions in my continued transformation. There are days (many, many days) a benefits package and a 401k sound like the best ideas in the world, and I crave the stability I've devoted my life to discourage my people to cling to. But it's what I've known for a LONG time, and even if it did not serve me, even if it was actually BAD for me, it was still MINE. I still held it. And as for what I have now, or what I will have, most of it is unknown. Tomorrow, I could have an article published, or book a speaking gig or release a song that will change the world, and my life with it. OR, I could go another 6 months with just a few minor developments. It's the risk I take.
The risk of moving forward is that I have no idea what's around the corner. Like going up a steep hill, I can't see what's below me. But the only way I will know- whether it's my impending doom or the greatest moment of my life to date- is to just. keep. moving. forward.
So, you have a lot to risk by taking action every day. By embracing heart ache. By embracing fear. By embracing pain. You risk the possibility that you may experience these feelings, and they might not be temporary- that they might linger, and you might spend your life feeling every impossible low imaginable. That is the worst case scenario- that if you go through hell, and you keep going, that hell might be limitless and unending. However...it's unlikely. It just is.
But, we don't think about the risk of sitting still. The benefits of sitting still? We know what we've got. And, if you're that tempted by where you are, you likely don't have much pain, heartache or fear...or at least, even if you do, you know what to expect, so it's not as bad. But the risk of sitting still is that, in not experiencing the lows and pains of change, we also never experience the highs and achievements of growth.
The choice is up to you. Starting over and staying the same are two beastly animals, that both have advantages and disadvantages, and only you know if you have the discipline, the will and, most importantly, the faith, in yourself and the karma of the world to move forward, through hell, believing above all, there will be an end and you WILL find the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, to the woman who wrote me about starting a life in Nashville, I'll say this: Anything is possible and EVERYTHING is hard- staying the same, changing, moving far away from home, staying close to home, pursuing your passion, not pursuing your passion. It's ALL effing hard. But- what if you don't? If you don't do it now, when will you? And if you don't have a finite answer to that (i.e. 6 months from now, or when I have $x in the bank), then will you be ok with your life if you keep it exactly as it is, for as long as you can possibly foresee? If the answer is no, and the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of growing, then just start moving. Just do it. Just embrace the suck and know how painful it will be, no matter what, and move forward. Be scared. Be brave, in spite of being scared and just promise yourself one thing: That every single day you will make forward motion. You will NOT retreat. You will NOT sit still. You will not let fear eat you, or your dreams, or your potential.
And as far as Nashville goes, I love it here. It's "home" now. It intimidates me every day, in the best way possible. Nashville is the super "hot guy" that agrees to date you-- you're surrounded by so much awesomeness that you're forced to up your game, or you get lost in the crowd. But at the same time, the belief that you're even here, makes you feel like in some weird, 3rd-party way, you're cool enough already. You can make it here, or anywhere, for that matter. And the music...well, that's why you come. To feel alive. To feel buried in talent. To feel frustrated by your own inadequacies, and, to ultimately overcome them.
If nothing else, you know one familiar face here. Give it a go. You get one life. :)