Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Cards We're Dealt

I woke up this morning singing "you gotta know when to hold them... know when to fold them.." Somehow it's appropriate for where I have found myself as of late. Kind of cheesy but bear with me.. 

Back in February I received an email telling me the courses I was currently enrolled in for grad school were not going to count towards my degree … huh? How could that be? But after some email exchanging it was confirmed that I had enrolled in two classes that specifically were not considered for the program I'm in. What to do? These courses were on-line classes, which if you've ever taken a class online you know they demand more time then in-seat courses. The irony of it all was it was the first time in my grad school career I was really enjoying my classes and I was really putting in a solid effort. The horrific part was that my graduation date was postponed and I was out a lot of money. Again what to do? My first reaction was to finish the courses - push through since I had finished seven of the ten weeks they involved. At the same time, which may come as a surprise to you, I was really overbooked with work. No one ever told me that starting a business was like having a child - it demands 100% of your time and energy. So between work and school I was pulling 85+ hour work weeks and trying to squeeze in the little bit of outdoor friend time that I could. I had a climbing trip planned to Canada at the end of February so if I stayed in the classes I would be writing my finals in Canada. I tried that once, taking finals on vacation, last year when I went to Mexico & California in November. When I look back at those two weeks all I can think is what an awful experience that was. I'm not suggesting that ice climbing is more important then my studies - although it's much more enjoyable - but I realized sometimes you just need to know when to walk away or in this case run. And so I did.

I think its important to hold true to values, standards, and draw lines of what you believe is right and wrong for yourself. If I've learned anything in my short life it is that if I allow myself to do so, I will take life way to seriously. And I will leave this earth a very tired, grumpy old woman. Life isn't all fun and games, but it isn't all work and stress either. When I was in Canada there was a day when Cheryl was just very tired and the ice wasn't so great, and so I asked her what she was thinking.. and she answered, "I'm asking myself what's my motivation right now?" Why am I doing what I'm doing? Not that every decision or action we make should bring us happiness, but some things just aren't worth comprising yourself or your peace of mind over. It's like when I hear women planning their weddings and they're just stressed over the details and the work of it. I can't understand why you would then keep on planning your miserable wedding.. it's not worth the anxiety. And in my case with school and work and the idea of vacation I realized that my motivation to complete the courses was because I was scared of failure. My motivation was to please others, to respond the way everyone would expect me to respond, and to comprise my own sanity.. In this case I knew I had to run. I was about to turn my vacation into a miserable experience.  I don't regret dropping the courses and I'm hoping by the Grace of God I can get my money back. But the decision I made allowed for me to have an opportunity that brought me the upmost joy. I spent 10 days in the Canadian Rockies with my amazing mentor and friend Cheryl. 

Relationships can be like that too. Friends, family, significant others - "what's my motivation.. why am I doing what I'm doing?" More often then not it has been to please the other. Sometimes that's a good thing - a great thing - but not always. And it's been a tough lesson for me to learn. I remember realizing after Christopher died that I had been spending my college career working so hard to:
1. Earn respect and prove myself to my department, my colleagues, and my employers 
2. To be the opposite of Christopher who couldn't succeed in school and work

I really have hurt myself with the motivation of another's happiness. In the past few years I've learned however that sometimes you need to hold on to the cards, and people, in your life even through the challenges because it's what grows you as a person. And sometimes you just need to cut your losses and walk away. Not to worry about the "what-ifs" or feeling like you need to hold on with the fear they'll be the only ones to come into your hands.  Let these lessons prepare you for when new relationships do begin- kind of like playing cards. You know what works and what doesn't. There's no need to hold tightly when you know it's a loss. And sometimes you find yourself given a hand that has potential and it's worth at least seeing through. For me, that grey area is a hard spot to be in.  I'm so afraid of failure or disappointing myself, or the other, that my reaction is often to run. Meagan spoke some truth to me the other night however when she said "Anne you're not the girl you use to be. You wouldn't let yourself fall into the old tendencies you use to." Hmm.. kind of like when I went to Canada over working. Yes when I was 20 I would've stayed, canceled my vacation, and worked. But not this time. 

I'm thankful for the hands I've been dealt in the past - the ones I've kept and the ones I've walked away from. And I know throughout life I'll be given more that I'll need to make the decision to keep or discard. But at the end of it all it has to come down to what's your motivation - what do you value - what's the result of your decision. For me it's about always pursuing peace with the journey I'm on, not always running but not always holding on either. 

So whether its work, relationships, school - uncertainties will continue to pop up, and you will have to decide what's the worth of it to you. And in each a decision will be made to hold, fold, walk away, or run.  But remain true to yourself. Think of what your motivation is, and don't regret when you finally make the decision. I don't believe in an easy road out - I think every decision comes with some kind of doubt and/or sorrow. But that's just the beauty of life - we're able to keep moving forward and if we have faith we will be given all that we need. And we will have peace when we're done. 

Speaking of peace..  

“Take pride in how far you've come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don't forget to enjoy the journey"