As realistic as we pride ourselves to be, there is one beloved fairy tale that we all secretly indulge in. It's called: "Things should come easy." And I'm not talking about what we say we "believe in", because few would ever confess to holding such a belief; I'm talking about the truth embedded in our actions. We've all been there; the pivotal moment where discomfort overshadows vision, body yields to fear and heart shamefully dreams up the perfect getaway plan. We thought we could do it, but we just can't. It's too hard. We should have known better. Hope slowly flat-lining, we watch our self-defeat ridicule any sort of self-knowing and perseverance we thought we possessed. It wasn't meant to be, we say. And we sort of pretend to move on.
Is this how it has to be? I don't think so.
It could just be time to grow up.
We are part of a culture that wants everything for little to nothing. I see the effects of this mentality in my own expectations of life, love and financial success. Wanting good health while barely bothering to exercise; a fulfilling relationship without addressing any fears of intimacy; or reaping financial reward without contributing the respective value. It simply doesn't work that way. This however, isn't solely about pointing out our delusional ideology, it's about addressing the inherent discomfort of staying the course once we have chosen to commit to a desired path. It's about accepting that discomfort is not a sign to bail but a sigh to recommit. It's about learning to embrace challenges, rather than fear them. It's about allowing ourselves to truly become adults.
Adulthood has always gotten a bad rap. Maya Angelou famously said:"I am convinced that most people do not grow up...We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old."
We've made becoming adults into something boring, rigid, reminiscent of death and long lost glory. While it starts as something we idealize as kids, its pressure haunt us for the rest of our life. An imaginary condition where all of a sudden we morph into serious and responsible beings who go to bed before midnight and aren't allowed to dance at parties. The sheer horror of actually being these creatures turns us into closet children simply living in aged bodies. In other words, existing in denial of our reality and unwilling to step up to our will power.
What are we hiding from?
Ourselves, maybe? Or the discomfort that is associated with committing to actions that are in alignment with our desires and truth. The beauty of childhood is that we don't really know what we want, we just know what we like. Liking something doesn't necessarily attach to a need to commit action; wanting it, however, does. It requires that choices be made along with sacrifice. And, naturally, a certain level of discomfort. Think about it; knowing you like ice cream is one thing. Wanting ice cream implies a certain level of initiative on your part to acquire it; whether that means driving to the store or simply tearing open the wrapping. If only all our wants were as sweet as ice cream.
So, how about wanting to lose 50 pounds, reconcile a broken marriage or making your first million--- imagine the sustained actions required to reach those ideals? Not as easy breezy, right.
With perfectionism ready to bully us at every corner, here are two simple ways we can start honoring our inner warrior:
1. Small Consistent Actions: In other words, one of my favorite concepts, Kaizen. A Japanese philosophy meaning "continuous improvement", this strategy was initially applied to efficiency in the business world. Want to reap the benefits of meditation? Make it a point to take one deep, conscious breath every day for 3 months. Every day, for three months. Start and master something small and watch your ability and appetite grow. Want to feel more connected to your partner/friends? List one thing you appreciate about them per day. Watch your heart slowly open and judgement melt into tolerance. Want to start feeling better in your body? Commit to 5 minutes of jumping jacks every morning. Five minutes, every morning. Get your blood flowing, and your heart pumping Spartan energy into your day.
2. Acknowledge your efforts and triumphs: Why be your own worst critic when you can be your own fiercest cheerleader? Of course we all have days where we feel like the biggest mess on the planet, but to actually grow requires us to be able to reward ourselves with a pat on the back when we have accomplished something that took effort. Regardless of how small it may seem. No one understands the unique difficulties each of us face better than ourselves. Kindness goes a long way; definitely way farther than criticism. Be proud of yourself and your efforts, give yourself days off, get that massage. Strut your stuff. You've earned it.
Adulthood means power. It means taking our childhood dreams and making them a reality. Imagine adulthood as the wings you took years and years to grow. Don't just sit on them, use them to fly. Are you ready to be the adult your inner child always wanted? Infusing play and creativity into our life are all great ways to revive and sustain our sense of wonder and possibility, but practicing consistent commitment and conscious maturity is what gives life to the dream.
Here's to saying a big brazen yes to whatever it takes and to taking ownership of our life.