Waiting On A New Normal: Navigating Your Mindset When You Feel In-Limbo.

Waiting On A New Normal: Navigating Your Mindset When You Feel In-Limbo.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

(****really important note: this is not a post about waves or policies. this is about what you might be experiencing internally — a feeling stuckness or waiting, despite “logically knowing” you could be acting and feeling otherwise.)

 

 

 

Two years ago this week, I posted this:


A snippet from the caption:

“Today’s Micro Shift For A Mega Difference: Replace NEW NORMAL with FOR-NOW NORMAL.

NOW Normal isn’t the same as THEN Normal. And it’s definitely not the same as what Normal WILL BE months from now, when the dust settles, we emerge from our doors, and enter a post-pandemic society. And hug. It’ll be so, so wonderful to hug.

The words we choose to describe the time we’re in *matter.* Saying that this is our “New Normal” implies that the Now is the Forever…which it’s definitely not.”

Welp, it’s two years later. We have emerged from our doors. Hugs are a thing.

So why does it feel like we’re still waiting for something to happen?

 

PART 1: THE FORGETTING.

Okay, let me amend that: so why does it still feel like *a lot of us are* waiting for something to happen? I don’t want to assume what your life has been like, or is like, or how you’re feeling in this moment. But if the conversations I’ve been having and posts I’ve been seeing on social media are any indication of what’s going on beyond the walls of my own brain, then it’s pretty clear to me that a lot of us are still waiting for this New Normal people were talking about so often a few years back. Stuck in an interminable limbo.

Waiting.

Adjusting.

Planning, just enough.

Acting, just enough.

Waiting.

Waiting.

On a call with my therapist the other day, I admitted to her that I didn’t have vivid memories of the past year or so. This, I told her, was alarming to me. Because this, I told her, was something I’d experienced before. And as someone whose memory is usually crystal-clear (one friend likes to tell me that I remember her childhood better than she does. we met well into adulthood, I just know all her family’s stories and inside jokes), the fact that my memory presents itself as fuzzy and vague is, I told her, a big red flag that something is very off. The last time I experienced this on an intense level, after all, was in college — a time when my life felt so unlike my own that I ended up developing multiple eating and body-related disorders. And while I thankfully haven’t been even so much as flirting with any of those destructive avenues this time around, there’s one thing that I do realize I’ve been doing:

I’ve been shutting down and going through the motions.

 

Relationship therapists and mental health communities will often talk about “avoidant” attachment style, a pattern of behavior within relationships where the person disconnects from their own expression of needs and feelings and becomes overly independent. Others will talk about shutting down emotionally as a response to feeling overstimulated and not knowing how to handle it. I always like to get curious about relationship patterns and studies when I’m dealing with my own inner stuff — if the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the relationship you have with Your Self, wouldn’t it make sense that (at least some of) the same advice and findings might (at least some of the time) apply to that mega-important relationship, too?

You can logically know what you want to do, how you want to do it, every single step on the 200-step list to get you where you want to be. But logic won’t get you everywhere.

“It’s like I put up a physical wall,” I told my therapist, illustrating the wall in front of me with my hand gestures. “I don’t feel any which way about the wall — not angry, not sad. I logically know that I want to walk around the corner of the wall and keep moving forward; the corner’s right there. But it’s like there’s something inside of me that just won’t do it — that’s telling me it’s not the time yet.”

“It sounds to me,” she said gently after some thought, “like your strategy of shutting down and therefore not really remembering is a protective strategy. Is that maybe it? You’re doing your best to get yourself through tough times.”

As I think about this interminable in-limbo, this For-Now Normal I’m so eager to transition into a New one, I have to remind myself over and over again that this is the thing.

For all of us.

We are doing our best to get ourselves through tough times. And I think where we’ve been getting tripped up is thinking that this tough time isn’t supposed to be as tough as it is.

If we’re not in the Before anymore and we’re not in the After yet, we ask ourselves — then why does it feel like we’ve been wherever HERE is for so long?

“Maybe,” I mused to my therapist, a cartoon lightbulb popping over my head, “I’ve needed this moment of checking out a little to help me reset for whatever comes next.”

 

PART 2: THE MOTIONS

Here’s the thing. Transitions, are usually just as tough if not tougher than all the Befores and Afters. Even if we feel as if we’re on the precipice of the other side, that doesnt meant it’ll all the sudden be easy. And even if we’re in a transitional *moment,* that doesn’t mean that *moment* is a quick one.

My expectations formed in 2020 — of a smooth and quick transition from the Before to the After — did not match up with the reality of the During that’s been 2021/22, and that’s both my own doing AND not something to shame myself for. I’m pragmatically positive, looking at the truths in front of me and choosing to believe the ones that feel proactive, not reactive. This is what prevents me from going to those deeper and darker places when times get tough. I’m grateful that my pragmatically positive outlook has carried me through the last few years. And if that part of me needed a transitional moment of “going through the motions” of life in order to clear the slate for whatever’s next, I’m here for it.

That’s not to say if you get into a pattern of habitually checking out, tuning out, or going through the motions, it’s always okay or healthy. That’s why I brought it up to my therapist!

But if you’re someone who is used to always being ON, always having PLANS, always STRIVING REACHING SCHEMING with motivation and drive for days, and over the last couple years, has been HUSTLING SUPER HARD physically mentally and emotionally just to keep your mojo going…well, maybe this moment is a sign that your mojo just wants a nap.

Having high productivity, drive, and vision 24/7 isn’t just not-sustainable, it’s not how a full life works. Life is a mix of highs, lows, and everything in between. The thing that matters is that you focus on responding to and/or maximizing the moment you’re in instead of escaping it. It’s kind of like your classes in high school: maybe you lived for English class and poured your soul into every essay — but you still had to pass Chemistry, which you found boring and aggravating, to graduate.

It’s okay to love some times and go through the motions in others.

That doesn’t mean you’re failing.

It means you’re human.

 

PART 3: THE (FOR) NOW

I’ve started to believe even stronger in the concept of the For-Now Normal, and believe in it in a different way than before.

What if these past two years — and this past year, especially — has been a call-to-action for all of us to remember that every “Normal” has a “For Now” in front of it?

That things can be both temporary and interminably long at the same time?

That as long as you’re not causing yourself of others harm, doing your best to get yourself through a tough time is sometimes the best you can do in the current For Now, before the next For Now comes along?

I’m not telling you to subject yourself to a life of waiting. Be proactive, not reactive. 

And I’m also not telling you that every single thing in your life is a matter of choice. Life is a waltz between circumstance and choice, where at any moment one can take over the leading steps.

All I’m saying is that you, dear reader, dear friend, are in the midst of one of many of your For Nows. 

When you become tempted to tell yourself mean things about the season you’re in, remind yourself:

“The Now is not the Forever. It never is. Sometimes things come easily, some times are tough. I’ve gone through many seasons before this and will go through many seasons after this. What matters right now is that I honor where I am, knowing that where I’m going is just another moment away.”

Do the best with where you’re at, and the best for whatever’s next.

Your For Now is for now, just like your next For Now will be too.

Honoring where you are now allows you to practice honoring where you will be.

Trust it.

 

 


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Laughable Plans: Finding Control When There Feels Like None.

Laughable Plans: Finding Control When There Feels Like None.

Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

If you Google search “top 10 most stressful life events,” there are a few repeat offenders that pop up on list after list. Death of a loved one. Marriage. Divorce. Starting a new job or losing a current one. Financial problems. 

And then, there’s MOVING.

For the last few months, this one’s been my Stressful Life Event de Jour. And not just moving. Buying.

(*and yes, it’s admittedly a HUGELY privileged Stressful Life Event to even be able to buy — especially in New York City, which has been touted as one of the hardest places to buy due to its many….uh…let’s just call them *quirky* barriers to entry.)

But this letter to you today isn’t about buying a home: it’s about everything else it’s been bringing up for me, and I suspect life has been bringing up for you, too.

PART 1: LAUGHABLE PLANS.

Let me give you some context: I am no stranger to moving. For the majority of my adult life, I moved almost every single year. I think my own personal record was around 2009-2011, where I somehow fit four apartments into a span of 2.5 years.  And then I met Jeremy and started living in apartments for 2-3 years at a time. Apartments that didn’t feel like a “place” — they felt like a home.

About a year ago, we decided that after all these feelings of “home,” it was time to actually make moves and buy one of our own. Knowing a more permanent situation was on the horizon, we decided to take advantage of the “Covid deals” in the city and rent one last time. I don’t have kids (well, human kids — Frankie totally counts!), but I imagine the mindset we had was similar to that of pre-parents who take a “babymoon” before life changes forever: our plan was to have an “adventure year” in an area of the city we’d probably be priced out of during any other moment in time, while saving a bit more in the meantime. You know. Have one last “hurrah” before a new chapter began. Especially because, of course, things in the world would “get better” soon.

Well, there’s an old Yiddish saying. “We plan, God laughs.”

So, you’re welcome for the comedy show, God/universe/whatever you want to call it.

Without getting into all the nitty-gritty details of every single not-exactly-hurrah-worthy event, what I’ve finally realized is that after two years of SO much uncertainty and lack of control over the state of the world, I think we thought we could “control” our way out of it all. That we could put a surplus of concrete plans in place like in “before times” and it beat the system.

What’s ironic is that the surplus of plans we put in place actually worked in the opposite way we wanted them to. Instead of providing us with more security and ease, they made us more on edge and unsettled than ever. We weren’t loving our neighborhood. The pandemic was faaaaaaar from over. Buying was proving to be even harder than the “hard” we thought it would be. Maybe in a different time it would have all panned out differently, but we don’t live in another time. We live now. Everything began to feel fragile and calculated. 

What’s even more ironic is that it all felt exponentially harder to work through mentally and emotionally than in 2020, the year so many of our lives literally changed overnight, and so many of us felt like we had the most uncertainty.

PART 2: AFTERSHOCKS.

If you’re nodding your head, I want you to know that you’re a) human, and b) not alone. When you have so much uncertainty thrown your way for so long (and two years is definitely so long!), any opportunity to seize control can feel like not only a lifeline but the rarest of opportunities.

It’s not that uncertainty is the enemy, though. Or control, for that matter!! It’s not as simple as good vs. bad. Both certainty and uncertainty have their pros and cons, sometimes in the same breath.

But as a recovering perfectionist AND recovering self-help junkie, I’ve historically had a tendency to either think that you need to totally control every aspect of something in order for it to “work out,” or you need to completely let go. The latter being a favorite of self-help culture: everything happens for a reason, blah blah etc etc.

This is obviously not how life works. You can’t just always have one thing all the time.

So what do you do when you feel like you have no control at all and everything’s spinning haphazardly?

The answer to lack of control, I’ve learned, isn’t total control. It’s finding a way to feel (and stay, even?) grounded while the floor shakes under you and the aftershocks keep rolling. And I’m from Southern California. I KNOW earthquakes. When I was seven, an earthquake hit our city so big that entire houses fell off of their foundation. My friend Joey’s whole house was flooded. My aunt (pregnant with my cousin Ben, so also, my cousin Ben) had to literally climb out a window to get out of her house because the doors were blocked with debris. Phone lines went down, electricity went out, and parts of the freeway collapsed. People died. This was 1994 pre-social media, when all we had were newspapers, TV, and radio — the latter of the two you might not have had access to if your power had gone out. So for days, so many of us….just….didn’t know….so much.

And the aftershocks kept rolling.

But we got up. We got creative. We did what we could. We helped where we could. We climbed out windows and rebuilt freeways and mourned the losses while we moved forward, knowing very well the ground could start shaking again at any moment.

Whether it’s an earthquake, a globally traumatic event, a relationship beginning (or ending), a job ending (or beginning), or a move, there are times in life that present us with what feels like more not-knowing than we can handle.

Whenever I feel like “nothing” is certain and I start to not only fear but expect the proverbial aftershocks of a moment in time way outside of my control, I do ONE thing that IS.

Whether it’s moving my body in the warmth of my little living room on a cold day, or being intentional with my words during a difficult conversation, or doing that one thing I’ve been putting off for weeks  — that little thing ALWAYS brings me back to myself.

No, it doesn’t fix the situation at hand. But it reminds me I have a sliver of agency, during a time when I often forget I do — and that control isn’t an all-or-nothing event.

PART 3: THE DANCE.

I said earlier that there were multiple “not-exactly-hurrah-worthy” events over the course of the last year. But what I didn’t mention is that there were plenty of “hurrah-worthy” ones, too. Going to the theatre more than ever. Cooking so many new, delicious meals. Home workouts (who knew they’d become so fun?!). Weekend mornings uptown. Midday coffee breaks in Madison Square Park and Washington Square Park and Fifth Avenue. Runs through the streets of Chelsea and Soho. Multiple big work WINS. New friends. 

The thing that all of these moments have in common is that they weren’t in the plans. Even the things I DID expect to happen and DID plan for didn’t happen on the timeline I’d set for myself. I had control in the moment, but that control didn’t come from a strict guidebook I was following. The uncertainty actually enhanced these experiences, come to think of it. I appreciated them more. And eventually, allowed myself to go with the flow with the other stuff rather than fighting the tide.

I have no new news to report on the homebuying front, other than the fact that I’m finding peace in doing what I can and then letting the rest be. Like in life. Sometimes control will be there, and sometimes it won’t. Trying to force everything to line up perfectly isn’t the answer — but neither is letting go so much that you’ve lost the hope and joy that comes with expectations. You’ll be able to control certain things, but not all the things. Internalizing and accepting the presence of both those things as simultaneous truths is key to making the moments matter. An investment in both the attachment and non-attachment. An ability to move forward with plans and accepting they might not work out but moving forward anyway.

So many times we try to control our way into the fullest, truest life we can imagine.

But a full and true life isn’t about being in total control.

It’s about controlling what you can, then letting the rest unfold.

A dance between knowing and not-knowing.

 

gaining control uncertainty

I Will Still Do Well: Reimagining Goal-Setting When You’re In The Middle Of Burnout

I Will Still Do Well: Reimagining Goal-Setting When You’re In The Middle Of Burnout

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

There’s this one old Oprah video from 1986 I’ve become obsessed with over the last few years. I’ve watched it so many times I have it memorized and tattooed onto my brain. The exchange goes like this:


HOST: So this show is just getting underway nationally—

OPRAH: (nods) It will do well.

HOST: And if it doesn’t?

OPRAH: And if it doesn’t *I* will STILL do well. I will do well because I’m not defined by a show. I think we are defined by the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat other people. It would be wonderful to be acclaimed as this talk show host that’s made it. That would be wonderful. But if that doesn’t happen, there are other important things in my life.

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I feel like I’m probably not the only one in your life who’s saying those words right now. Maybe you’re even saying them to yourself. About places you’ve gone, stuff you’ve done, people you’ve seen, or things you’ve felt.

It’s. been. a. while.

Usually when January rolls around, I’m fired up about helping you (and myself, tbh) combat what I call Resolution Season: that time of year when goal-setting feels obligatory, *hEaLtHy hABiTs* are trending, and many of us generally feel pressured to do-change-become SO MUCH at once, and fast. When this usually happens, I like to give you alternatives to the Resolution Season rush so that you feel empowered, not frantic — and so that you avoid the inevitable burnout that comes when you try and force too much on yourself at once.

This year is different: Burnout’s already here.

If your IRL community sounds anything like mine right now, you’re probably hearing (or at the very least sensing) that a whole heck-ton of us are at the ends of our ropes.

And if your social media feeds, fitness studios, supermarkets, or favorite wellness-adjacent apps look anything like mine, you’re probably noticing that the annual push for NEW YEAR NEW YOU doesn’t feel alluring like it maybe has in the past. It doesn’t even feel annoying.

It feels downright insensitive.

 

I will STILL do well.

 

I don’t sugarcoat things here. If you’ve been visiting WANT for a while (some of you have been here almost 7 years!!), you know I won’t try to convince you to feel any way other than how you feel, and won’t lie to you about how I’m feeling, either. 

If you’ve been saying to yourself “It’s been a while,” I want you to know you are NOT alone. I know this because I’m with you. Sometimes it feels like it’s been a while since I was fully at ease. It feels like it’s been a while since I was fired up and motivated to crush a goal. Heck, it feels like it’s been a while since I felt like I was “crushing” anything. After so much stop-and-go hope and letdown this past year+++ — from looking forward to then canceling big family gatherings, to stopping and starting work, to planning, promoting, then postponing my very first retreat and more — I am exhausted. Creating a big list of pie-in-the-sky goals right now, for me, feels masochistic. Almost cruel. Like I’m setting myself up for letdown by “positivity-ing” myself into a dead end.

As someone who actually DOES want to look forward with excitement and possibility (and yes, maybe some goals too), I’ve begun to ask myself:

How the heck do you start setting goals when you feel like you’ve got so much recent “proof” that reaching your goals isn’t really up to you in the first place?

 

I will STILL do well.

 

How you start is by remembering why you do it all in the first place.

All my life I’ve heard the refrain “It’ll be worth it in the end” when faced with frustration, pain, or uncertainty. There’s a part of that that’s true, and. I don’t believe the feeling you get when you get where you’re going needs to be the *only* prize there is. I believe you can get clear on how you want to approach frustration, pain, or uncertainty and make THAT APPROACH your goal. Even before you know what the challenge or destination is.

I believe the unfolding of the journey can be the destination.

I believe it all can be “worth it” in the now.

I don’t need a specific *thing* in mind to work toward this year. I just need to know how I want to feel while I’m working toward whatever it ends up being.

Ease.

Simplicity.

Confidence.

Trust.

Those things, to me, are “goals” that transcend ages or achievements. They’re qualities I want to cultivate in my life whether I’m 35 or 95. And they’re the things, I suspect, that will actually end up defining me in the long run.

 

I will STILL do well.

 

Whether it’s a workout you do, a dissertation you write, a meal you cook, an application you send, or — in the case of Oprah circa 1986 — a show you launch, see what happens if this year, you focus less on what you get OUT of it and more about how you go INTO it.

The beauty of this shift? It prevents one thing from being your everything. It takes the pressure off of it to be perfect, and instead focuses on cultivating mental and emotional habits you can apply anywhere in your life, for your entire life.

The goal isn’t the thing you go after.

The goal is how you go after it.


May this moment be the one we release the image of how things “should” be, and what goals “should” look like, and embrace the reality of who we’ll be no matter where the winds blow us.

Things might go according to plan, or not.

It might do well, or it might not do well.

But YOU will do well.

No matter what.

And that’s what matters. 

<

You’ll Love It When You’re Older: On Ageism, Bias, and Covertly Dangerous Compliments

You’ll Love It When You’re Older: On Ageism, Bias, and Covertly Dangerous Compliments

Body Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I got exposed to ageism at a very early age in a very odd way: by getting told incessantly how much younger I looked than I actually was.

Immediately followed by: YOU’LL LOVE IT WHEN YOU’RE OLDER.

Every time I got praised for looking “so young,” I could hear in people’s voices (and actual words) the clear subtext: how desirable and “good” youth was.

Plus, I was consistently told I acted older than I was but looked younger, which apparently was the *iDeAL* way to be.

Compliments like this can seem harmless. What’s the big deal?! someone might think. It’s a good thing, not a diss!

But the thing about getting compliments on things that are designed to change throughout time — namely, your age and your shape — is that it can create a dependence on whatever’s getting you the compliments.

And then when your body does what it’s designed to do, which is shift and morph and grow older, it can cause panic.

 

If you’re told your value is in your age or shape or size, what happens when it starts to inevitably change, and you’re not that age or shape or size anymore?

What happens to your sense of self-worth when the things that have brought you praise are no longer present?

 

This is why ads and articles for “anti-aging” tools and tips continue to be so popular.

Even if they’re not saying it outright, the subtext is: aging is a thing to be “anti-” and against. Aging is bad. Don’t age.

 

(and Here, buy this cream.)

 

 

I’ve been down the road of low self-worth with my body multiple times over.

However, by some blessing of the universe, I only rarely confront that with age.

My “secrets” aren’t so much a secret but a social and structural byproduct of the way I’ve lived thus far:

1. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always, always had role models to look up to who were significantly older than I was.

Aging, to me, meant that I would someday “get on the same level” as the women I admired. Whether it was personally or professionally, I always viewed age as a way in, not out — ironic, considering my career path for so long was as an actor (the entertainment industry notorious for its ageism). But even when I heard about people “ageing out” of certain types of roles, or women getting cast as grandmothers while they were barely in their 40s, I always had badass women to look up to who were defying the norms. If they can do it, I thought, I certainly can.

2. I am a professional noticer, which means I picked up on things early on that maybe other people didn’t until way later in life, or never did at all.

When it comes to age, I noticed how many people — namely women — just kinda stopped trying new things after a certain age. I vowed I would never be that person. From an emotional standpoint, but also a logistical one: I had too many interests and passions. If I gave myself an age cut-off, I quite literally wouldn’t have time to do everything I wanted to do.

At the old-young-neither age of 35, I’m usually not the youngest person in the room anymore, but I’m also usually not the oldest. I play 90s throwbacks in my spin classes and while 1/3 of the class members are right there with me, 1/3 weren’t even born in the 90s and 1/3 were well into adulthood and didn’t listen to, say, 702 (where my girls at, from the front to back).

So, here’s a photo of me hula-hooping with a giant bagel, at a #bagelinfluencer event (BagelFest – it’s a thing).

Here to remind you that like Aaliyah said, age ain’t nothing but a number.

And also, whether someone’s telling you you’re young or old — well first of all, young and old are subjective. Younger and older than who?? — YOU get to decide what you do and where you go in the stage of life you’re experiencing right now.

You’re not too old.

It’s not too late.

You’re not too young.

It’s not too early.

You are you.

It’s right now.

Make your own damn rules.

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Have You Updated Your OS Lately?

Have You Updated Your OS Lately?

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“I think I’m an Apple person. Yep, I’ve decided it. I’m switching out everything.”

This was my husband, about a month ago.

My PC-using, iPhone-carrying husband, tired of multiple brands and multiple systems, decided that he would no longer be using anything that was more than one degree away from Steve Jobs. Everything needed to “match.” He sounded like a close relative of Justin Long in those commercials from the early 2000s.

 

Also my husband about a month ago:

“I’m think I’m a PC person. Yep, I’ve decided it. No Apple for me”

No, that’s not a typo. After going all-in on the Apple ecosystem, my MacBook-using, iPhone-carrying husband decided he was tired of learning new keyboard functions and computer basics after a lifetime of PC use. But, of course, everything needed to “match.”

Goodbye iPhone, hello Pixel.

Goodbye Justin Long, hello PC Man.

Confusing, I know (less so if you know he’s a Gemini, but that’s a whole other conversation). And, admittedly, a very privileged back-and-forth to even be having — one we definitely wouldn’t have been having years ago when we both worked for larger corporations and didn’t rely SO heavily on our own devices. We’re both pretty conservative with our spending, and cringe whenever we see the price tag on a new computer or phone (even the refurbished ones). Some people have to pay rent on office space to run their company, some people have to buy school supplies or specific outfits. Tech is our main business investment, and an investment worth making — especially now that so much of the work we used to do in-person is now virtual.

Jeremy is a brand + business strategist, which means he spends his days growing businesses by hland on who they are, what they stand for, and how that manifests out there in the world. This is both an asset and a roadblock. While it makes him hyper self-aware and inquisitive by nature, it can also lead him down roads he might not have traveled otherwise.

“What’s your favorite movie?” isn’t just a small-talk ice breaker — it’s a way to tell someone else exactly who you are and what you value.

“How do you want your hair cut?” isn’t just about what flatters your face shape or what feels practical/on-trend/whatever you’re going for — it’s about what you want to say before you even open your mouth.

In his quest to “streamline” his technology, Jeremy — my insightful, inquisitive Gemini husband — wasn’t just deciding on a computer or phone.

He was deciding on an identity.

(Or so he thought.)


The whole “your phone/computer/headphones/tablet/whatever is your identity” thing is the exact narrative those early Mac vs. PC Guy were capitalizing on. According to the commercials, if you were a Mac person, you were cool, laid back, young. PC Guy? All business. No fun. Awkward. (cue the dramatic music) Outdated.

Of course, this isn’t true at all. Or rather, the truth of it depends on YOU, the consumer, and your experience. But the idea of a defined and streamlined narrative is so alluring…so aspirational…a lot of us will go to great lengths to make it happen. So muchso, that we’ll even trade in what we love for the promise of a vague “better.”

~

Self-help culture has us obsessed with the big shifts and life overhauls. Do a quick internet search or bookstore browse of mainstream self-help hits and you’ll see phrases like find your calling, unlock your true purpose, and change your life.

All of which imply that you’ve got to leave one thing behind in order to access the other.

The better, brighter, other.

Is that sometimes true? Sure. Sometimes you do need to quit the job, leave the relationship, pack up the house, delete your social media.

But what about all of those other times? The times you actually love your job, are all-in on your relationship, feel so very at home, enjoy “Liking” your friends’ posts…and still, you feel like something is just off?

What about then?

Are you supposed to assume you can’t trust your contentment?

Should you assume that leaving, quitting, packing, deleting are the inevitable answers?

~

The answer, of course, is no. Just like Jeremy eventually realized, who you are isn’t just about what you do, it’s about how you do it.

He didn’t need the phone in his hand to be a full-on personality trait.

What he DID need, though, was an update to his OS: his operating systems.


The phone-person metaphors are aplenty.
I think one of the reasons we’re intrigued by personal computers and cell phones is that they hold so many of our memories. And not just the photos we took at lunch with the fam. We literally use them to help us remember stuff. I know that the second I find out a friend’s birthday, I program it into my calendar. Got an interesting recommendation for a book? Write it in the Notes app or on a desktop “Sticky.” Back everything up to “the cloud” and you’re good to go. If you’re reading this, you’re reading it on a device of some kind — which means that you too have what’s akin to a second brain.

It’s pretty amazing, and yet sometimes I’ve found myself longing for the days of the physical Day Planners and oversized desk calendars. I’ve tried both, multiple times, and while I got a sweet hit of nostalgia as I penciled in my appointments, I ultimately got overwhelmed and had to scrap the analog methods. At first, I left my digital ways behind — but then I realized I still needed to keep my digital calendar up-to-date, so I started to do both. In my quest to simplify, I ended up over-complicating things for myself. So muchso, in fact, that I ironically ended up forgetting things. For me, trying to be a “Day Planner” person actually hurt more than it helped.

 

Even though something new and shiny (or retro and nostalgic) might seem like the easy swap, it might not be the right decision for you.

What might be right, however, is to do an audit of your lifestyle and habits in the same way you’d look at a phone or computer.

 

Think of your own personal operating systems (OS). What’s automated? Do you benefit from those automations? Is your “cloud” backup — the mental and emotional resources you can pull from regularly — up-to-date? Do you find yourself crashing every time you perform a certain activity a certain way or at a certain time?

Inspired by Jeremy’s tech saga and a-ha, I’m currently in the middle of my own OS audit. For me, an “OS Update” primarily involves looking at the role “motivation” and “inspiration” play in my day-to-day decisions. I’ll often use these two things as reasons to do or not do certain tasks and activities, so I’ll spend an unnecessary amount of time trying to drum up inspiration. Not only is it inefficient, it’s actually super exhausting. And while I do love the feeling of motivation and inspiration, I’ve found that I love them most when there’s no larger agenda attached (go figure, that’s when all my best ideas come to me anyway). My OS Update involves building the habit of whatever I’d like to do — write, exercise, cook, read — and not waiting for the go-ahead from “motivation.”

I’ve also realized that when it comes to work, I automatically answer questions with responses I would’ve given a year or two ago. Whether it’s stating my rate or responding to a request, I’ve found myself perfunctorily saying things that don’t apply anymore.

I’ve changed. It’s time for my OS to change with me.

Life is like a computer or cell phone. Things break and glitch. Sometimes, you need something completely new. But sometimes, you just need to upgrade your operating system. Click To Tweet

So, to come back around to Jeremy: he eventually ended up how he began. A Microsoft computer, an Apple phone, and some kind of copycat brand of AirPod-lookalikes as headphones. (Thank goodness for return policies and trade-in programs.) After a record number of backs and forths, Jeremy got everything set up and synced, and now has it all running on the latest version of software — software he wasn’t using before. It all looks the same as it did at the start, but there’s actually a world of a difference.

Turns out, he just really, really needed everything to work as efficiently as possible.

He didn’t need to choose a whole new identity. He wasn’t Justin Long. He wasn’t PC Guy.

His identity was, and always has been, “efficiency guy.”

~

It’s easy to assume that if things aren’t working, then you need to scrap everything and start fresh. Whether it’s the movies you love, the way you cut your hair, the coffee you drink, or the phone you carry, there’s a whole world out there that would love for you to define yourself by your associations. It’s easy…too easy…to assume that if you change what’s on the outside, you’ll change, period.

But life doesn’t work like that.

Things break and glitch.

Sometimes, you need something completely new.

But sometimes, you just need to update your operating system.

 


WANT YOURSELF:

What might an “OS Update” look like for you? Are there areas in your life where you could use a system refresh/reboot? Share in the comments and let us know — or join us over in The WANT Community to discuss this and more on a weekly basis!


 

Giving Selective F***s.

Giving Selective F***s.

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**Heads up: this post about people-pleasing, being defensive, and setting boundaries contains mature language, specifically, f***, a lot. I know we don’t censor our language on the WANTcast and WANT site, so you’re probably used to it, but I feel like the amount today is more than usual, so wanted to give you a heads up should you have eyes reading over your shoulder that you don’t want to see it :)**

 

Let me just tell you what happened in the elevator.

First, let’s set the stage. It’s hot. It’s humid. The air in NYC today feels like it’s about 96% humidity and that humidity is made up of sticky orange juice or something. All I want to do is get upstairs, turn on the AC, sit on my couch with my dog, and write this to you.

I’m also feeling fired up from a business meeting I had with myself over AM coffee, and am feeling way more focused and streamlined than I have in a while.

I walk into the elevator and there’s a man already in there who’s heading upstairs. Another man walks in.

I immediately feel a vibe from the first man — I can’t tell if it’s an “I’m starved for small talk after a pandemic” vibe or an “I’m gonna try and flirt with you” vibe, but either way, I don’t like it at all (sans a few neighbors over the years who have become extremely close friends, the second I walk into my home, I am a VERY private person. I don’t want to small talk — let alone be hit on).

“How is it out there?” the first man asks.
So hot. Like, 9 million percent humidity. I make the mistake of answering.

I can see him looking at my torso and I feel uncomfortable. The second man gets out of the elevator and I contemplate going with him. I wait too long and the door closes, me and Man #1 alone together. I realize he’s not looking at my torso — he’s looking at my WANT tote bag.

“Women Against Negative Talk,” he reads out loud.
Then he starts laughing.
“Is that a joke?”

?

Thank goodness I was still wearing my sunglasses, because I have zero game face and I’m pretty positive my eyes were shooting daggers.

No. It’s my business.

(If you could’ve seen his face drop. Lemme tell you, if he’d had any intention of hitting on me, his plans were definitely foiled.)

What happened next surprised me a little, though.

“What does that mean? ‘Negative talk’?” I could sense he was genuinely asking.
Negative talk like negative SELF-talk.
“What’s ‘negative self-talk’?”

Now, as someone who obsesses about our internal narrative and self-told story 24/7/365, it always blows.my.mind. when I realize not everyone knows what self-talk is. I mean, they DO know what it is — we all experience it — they just don’t know it has a name.

And so I explained it to him.

Self-talk is your internal narrative. Negative self-talk is the stuff you say disparagingly about yourself. It can be along the lines of self-doubt, fear, shame, whatever. For example, “I’m not good enough.”

He nodded a little. “Oh — I thought it meant talking negatively about others.”

Still unclear as to what the joke would’ve been…

(Side note: it’s always interesting to me when someone’s first association with “negative talk” is others-focused — gossip or bad-mouthing others — vs. self-focused.)

Anyway. I give an obligatory laugh and “Oh, that too!” which I immediately regret for its fakeness but then realize it’s just what I’m doing to help myself feel safe again, so I cut myself a break.

He goes to get out of the elevator, chuckling. “Good luck with your business!”

The door closes. Scene ends. And my face probably looked something like:

So, this is important:

His exit laugh was most likely reflexive — a laugh out of embarrassment, or trying to lighten the situation.

But it could’ve very well been because he thought it was a stupid concept, or a stupid name for a business, or that he didn’t take me seriously.

 

But I’m not sharing this story because his words affected me.
I’m sharing them because they DIDN’T.

 

Story after story exists of people who didn’t take The Greats seriously. Teachers who thought Einstein wouldn’t get anywhere. Producers who doubted Oprah could “make it” on TV. From athletics to academics, there’s a story of “Look who’s laughing now!” from superstars in every field.

A lot of times, the takeaway is: You need to not care. Don’t give a fuck what anyone has to say.

And I think this is actually really dangerous.

~

I, personally, don’t subscribe to a “No Fucks Given” attitude — even as a highly sensitive person and recovering people-pleaser. You’d think that it would’ve been my way out, right? My go-to catchphrase to shield me from Other People’s Opinions and make me Other People-Proof — right?

But the thing is, that never felt right to me.

 

Because not giving any fucks isn’t about setting a boundary.
It’s about building up walls.

 

Life isn’t meant to be lived on the defensive. I’m not a sports person, but I can’t think of ANY sport that’s solely about playing defense (and yes, I know I’m now mixing my metaphors). If you’re constantly shielding yourself from whatever comes your way, how can you score a goal? If you’re constantly playing defense, what happens to the people on your team who want to help you out?

As someone who doesn’t only care what other people think, but cares EXTREMELY deeply, building up walls and playing constant defense feels like a fight against my truest nature: the part of me that desires connection, collaboration, and community. I don’t want to build up such tall walls that I block out important perspectives.

And so I reject not-caring.

Instead, I get clear on what matters to me, who matters to me, and why the ones that matter to me, matter to me.

I know I will not be for everyone, and I know that everyone will not always agree with me. They might think I’m too enthusiastic, or complex, or “a joke,” like the guy in the elevator. But those are probably not the people who matter most to me, anyway.

So if you’re like me, listen up. This recovering people-pleaser, highly-sensitive introvert emotional sponge is here to tell you:

I give a fuck.
I most certainly give a fuck.
I just give selective fucks.

 

Because living life on the defensive is no way to live. Like Glennon Doyle says, “No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck—no woman is that cool—she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up.”