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.

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(****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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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. 

<

Mistake Resilience: How To Recover From A Case of “I Should Have Known Better”

Mistake Resilience: How To Recover From A Case of “I Should Have Known Better”

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Do you ever have those things that happen where you’re like, “Ugh, why did I do that?! I should have known better” ??

Like…

…Forgetting to add the salt in the cookies you grew up baking.
…Signing on the wrong dotted line when you’ve been signing contracts for years.
…Those plans you impulsively said YES to that always drain you for days after.

Whether it’s a recipe you’ve made a hundred times or an industry you’ve been in for literal decades, having experience in something doesn’t mean you’re immune to a flub-up.

And the more experience you have, the more likely you are to fall prey to this specific negative self-talk — I Should Have Known Better — and all the negative self-talk that follows it:

I’m such an idiot.

What a rookie move.

How could you do that?!

Sound familiar? I know it well. I experienced it this week, actually…

moments before “the incident.”

 

Over the last few weeks — ok, last few months — I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve been having some difficulty with my mental health (as I think a lot of us have been having!). My anxiety has been flaring up so hardcore that it’s been close to impossible to get most things done — and the things that HAVE gotten done, it’s taken all my energy to do them.

So when I finally started to feel a wave of relief, I knew I wanted to tackle something important to me that had been suffering: my podcast.

I started the WANTcast six years ago when I was busy simultaneously working a full-time job, teaching 8 spin classes a week, and spending at least three hours in my car every single day just to get from one place to another.

But no matter what my schedule has looked like, the WANTcast has always stayed a priority since it launched in 2015.

So the fact that I didn’t have it in me to publish a new episode for a whole MONTH, without warning, was wildly out of the ordinary.

The second I started to feel more like myself, I was determined to get “back on track.” I put all the pieces into place, and I finally pressed “publish” on the first new episode in a month last Friday.

WE’RE BACK, BABY!! I squealed to myself in my mind. I geeked out about it on social media, feeling pumped to be in my groove again after an unexpected hiatus, and went on my way.

Cut to Monday, when I’m taking a morning run and decide to listen back to the episode again. (I always love listening purely for enjoyment after everything is up and running and I’m far out of editor-mode.)

I press play and hear the intro music, a wave of relief hitting me that I finally did the damn thing. I’m so jazzed — I’ve listened to this interview about four times already. It’s REALLY GOOD. I’m so proud of myself for getting it out to listeners and so excited they get to enjoy it.

I hear myself talking…

…and then I hear a long pause.

Oh no.

I hear myself clear my throat.

OH NO.

And then, I hear myself taking the loudest, slurpiest GUUULLLP of water right into the microphone.

What happened, exactly?

I’d been so pumped to get the episode out, I’d totally spaced on editing the first 45 seconds.

Which is really the first 15 seconds if you don’t count the intro music.

The LITERAL period of time it usually takes people to pass a judgement on whatever they’re listening to.

Great.
Just great.

Luckily, because I do most everything myself, I know how to go back and edit shit like that out. My run became a sprint as I booked it home and images of one-star iTunes reviews started to flash before my eyes.

She doesn’t even know how to edit her podcast! ⭐️❌❌❌❌

Awful listening experience! ⭐️❌❌❌❌

Don’t even bother, what an amateur! ⭐️❌❌❌❌

Just NO! ❌❌❌❌❌

And then…the dreaded phrase popped into my head.

Katie, it’s been SIX years. You. Should. Have. Known. Better.

Even the most seasoned runners trip sometimes. The small mistake you make probably won’t define you — but what you do next just might. Click To Tweet

Here’s the thing. Whether it’s a small “whoops” or a big “oh shit” moment, things HAPPEN. And we can be really hard on ourselves when we make a mistake — especially if we’ve been doing that particular thing for a while.

If that’s you, and you’ve experienced your own “I Should Have Known Better Moment” lately, here’s what I have to say — and I hope you take this to heart —

That *one thing* does not, in any way, negate all the expertise and skill you’ve built over the years.

Even the most seasoned athletes trip sometimes.

Even the best chefs will inevitably burn a meal.

The mistake you make probably won’t define you — it’s what you do next that matters.

 

The whole process of re-editing, re-uploading, and re-publishing took maybe five minutes. The edited episode is now up and running, but I couldn’t shake the fact that at least 500 people had already downloaded and listened to the episode (and my overactive thirst neurons).

And so in that moment, I chose to practice MISTAKE RESILIENCE (not sure if that’s a thing, but I just made it up so now it is!). Which basically boils down to:

1) GRACE: recognizing my humanity, which means human error will inevitably happen if I’m working on something, because I’m a person not a robot.

2) SPACE: zooming out from the experience and looking at it within the grand scheme of things. I’ve been podcasting for six years, and hope to keep going for many years more. One mistake doth not make or break a pod unless I let it.

3) REPLACE: taking the moment and framing it as a useful learning experience instead of a defeating defining moment. In this case, the lesson was two-fold: I learned to always give my introductions one last listen before pressing publish. And I also learned that getting something done is always better than toiling over perfection for so long that you never end up doing anything.

 

With just 7 weeks left in the year — less than 50 days! — I’m really hoping we can all practice more Mistake Resilience and focus less on what’s going wrong and more on what’s going right. Not to gloss over or avoid missteps and mess-ups, because you are a human not a robot, but to set your future self up for success.

Where can you give yourself grace?

How can you get enough space?

Is it possible to replace that self-loathing with a lesson learned?

 

And then, last thing I’ll say — I know sometimes the little things don’t feel so little at all.

I know the little things can so easily spiral into the big things. And since life is made of the micro-moments, It’s easy to let each one define you.

Life is tough, but you are tougher

YOU get to define You by what you do next.

I believe in you.

I hope you believe in you, too.

 


 

Here’s How To Help Someone You Love Shift Their Negative Self-Talk

Here’s How To Help Someone You Love Shift Their Negative Self-Talk

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I’ll never forget the way my dad looked at me when he said: You have so much to be proud of. I wish you could see it.

My heart breaks every time I hear someone I love put themselves down. But I get it. I was once that person, too. The person who didn’t believe she was enough as is. The person who thought her body, her voice, her MIND itself needed a major overhaul.

That moment with my dad, on a family vacation in my late teens, has stuck with me for almost two decades now. I could see his love, his belief in me…and his pain knowing that he couldn’t just say a magic words and fix my self-image right then and there.

I still struggle sometimes — probably way more than I’d like to admit — but I have tools now that I didn’t have back then. And because I’ve been in such a deep self-loathing, self-doubting spiral, I’m able to recognize it quicker in others. Mainly, the people I love most.

And I feel those same feelings my dad must have felt when he looked at me.

I wish I could just say a magic word and fix it all right then and there. But I know I can’t.

But now that I’ve got hindsight on my side, I now know what helped me most when it came to the impact others had on me: how they spoke rubbing off on how I thought.

~

Your self-talk is like a language. And just like learning any language, it’s easy to become fluent in whatever you’re surrounded by and exposed to.

Not sure of the neuroscience here, but I know from my own experience that I learn best not when someone tells me what to do, but when someone shows me what to do. So I’m not surprised at all that while people telling me to “stop being so hard on yourself” didn’t move the needle much, hearing and watching them model healthy self-confidence and self-concept was incredibly helpful.

Someone you love struggling with negative self-talk? Here are some ways to help them become fluent in a more positive, proactive language…without just telling them to “stop being a dick to yourself.”


5 WAYS TO HELP SOMEONE SHIFT THEIR NEGATIVE SELF-TALK:


1. Be mindful of universal quantifiers: all, none, never, always, no one, everyone, etc.

Universal quantifiers are words that make a global statement with no exceptions. Not to say these words don’t have their place! Just be mindful and aware of when/how you use them, since their misuse can contribute to the kind of binary thinking (wrong vs. right) that can make someone believe there is one way to do life. Everybody is different (see what I did there?).

2. Ask if someone wants your ear, or wants your answers.
Even if you have the best intentions, sometimes people don’t need them, and just want a shoulder to lean on. before you jump into “here’s what I think,” ask your friend what they need from you in the moment so they feel valued and heard.

Bonus: if they want answers, try asking them questions instead. allowing your friend to come to their own conclusions helps them not only develop their critical thinking skills, but gain self-trust (vs. looking outside themselves for the answers).

3. Give specific compliments without strings attached — and give them often.
Have you ever noticed that you save your compliments for big occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or milestones? People need to know they’re loved, liked, respected, or admired on the regular, ordinary days, too.

Don’t go and “love bomb” people — which is “an attempt to influence a person by demonstrations of attention and affection” (Wikipedia). But make a point to give compliments when they pop into your brain. You never know who’s struggling to see themselves in a kinder light.

4. Bond over what you love, what you want to celebrate, or what you’re working toward.
It’s super easy to bond over negativity — and it’s effective, too! Studies have shown that strong bonds are formed when we talk about what we loathe. We’re connecting…but at what cost?

When problems arise or you just need to vent, go for it. But if you’re searching for conversation topics and tend to lean on gossip or complaints, try adding questions like “what are you excited about today?” or “what’s something you’re really loving lately?” into the mix. These small conversation starters can help spark proactive dialogue and positive connection.

5. Speak about yourself the way you would want your best friends to think about themselves.
We learn from example and take cues from one another. If you want someone you love to have a better self-image and more positive self-talk, show them how it’s done.

Be unafraid to share your wins and proud moments, no matter how big or small, with your loved ones. make sure you share in a genuine way that’s not seeking validation or recognition, and instead creates a space in which it’s not only normal, but encouraged, to celebrate exactly who you are. Lead with your own self-love. Side note: you’ll benefit just as much as they do :)

 

 

WANT YOURSELF:
Which of these tips do you think you can implement right away in your conversations? Which do you see being the most useful?

How To Let Go Of…Whatever It Is You Want To Let Go Of, Really.

How To Let Go Of…Whatever It Is You Want To Let Go Of, Really.

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(…or, at the very least, how to get started.)

Doesn’t it sound sexy and badass to say what you’re STOPPING, QUITTING, or LEAVING BEHIND?

I know it does. I’ve done the whole dramatic deal before: written down the things I’m leaving behind, crumpled them up, burned them in a fireplace. Heck, I even took an “anger” themed spin class once.

But it’s not that simple.

We‘re all human – living not just our high highs and low lows but a whole full spectrum of experience every day. Change is never as easy as leaving something behind and never looking back. No matter how mindful you are, it’s very likely you’ll inevitably be confronted with or fall back into an old pattern you thought you were done with. You’re human — which means you’re gonna fall into human patterns and feel human emotions in your life, no matter what. Surprise!!

What’s more likely is what happens to 80% of us: we take that (kinda inevitable?) one step back, then turn on the shame and blame. We tell ourselves we’re “so bad,” we messed up, we’re a failure, we can’t do this, so on so forth blah blah blah.

And that makes total sense. The moment we create ultimatums in our minds is the moment we set ourselves up for shame and self-doubt in the long run.

Social media accounts love to catch your attention with declarative statements about what you should stop doing, leave behind, or let go of.

Notice where the focus is?

To be clear: I get fired up over those “stop doing XYZ” posts on social media, too. It feels good to feel seen!

But whether it’s a thought, a feeling, a belief, a situation, a person – I always try to remind myself:

 

I’m letting go of something in order to make space for something else SPECIFIC.

Because the thing is: the second you STOP, QUIT, or LEAVE BEHIND…what’s gonna fill that space?

 

When I coach people to let go of something – a thought, a feeling, a belief, a situation, a person – I always try to frame it so that they’re letting go of it in order to make space for something else SPECIFIC. If you don’t know what you’re fighting for, you’re most likely going to end up right back where you began with what you’re fighting against…if only because it’s familiar.

Instead of directing your focus toward what you don’t want and calling it a day, try this more productive and proactive formula instead:

I am letting go of (how something affects you or why you do what you do)
So I can (what that thing holds you back from doing)

Here are some examples…
    • INSTEAD OF “I will stop putting others before myself.”
    • TRY “I will let go of my need to please others, so I can make room for myself.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I am leaving behind toxic people.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of excusing bad behavior at my own expense, so I can live out MY journey exactly as it’s intended to unfold.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I will quit negative self-talk.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of my limiting beliefs, so that I can feel confident and grounded.”

Also…notice this formula doesn’t say you’ll always do/feel/be that thing you say you’ve been held back from doing/feeling/being. The point isn’t to find a formula that’s going to be a guarantee, because (as you probably know) there aren’t any guarantees in life. Life loves its curveballs.

The point is to shift your focus.

The point is to make space AND THEN define what you want that space to hold.

The point is to state clearly: this is what I want, this is what I’m willing to fight for.

Burn your regrets in the fireplace if you want. Make a dramatic statement if it feels good. But make sure you do this, too. Just know that you’re a person in progress – and your life will be one long loop of letting things go and picking things up along the way.

You might not get to choose what enters your world, but you sure as hell can choose what you do with it.

 


WANT Yourself: 
What are you letting go of, and what are you making space for?

 

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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.”