In my mid-twenties, something singularly DEVASTATING happened and I thought I’d never recover: I got dumped very suddenly and over the freaking phone. The phone! CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT? The gah-damn nerve of some people, I’m a gift. Anyway, I was very very depressed and thought my life was over and I lost a bunch of weight because #emotion and a year later I met Tim and was like “Voldemort* who?”
(*I’ve never seen or read Harry Potter but I hear this is a good name to categorize all bad ex-boyfriends under, especially the ones who break up with people over the phone.)
But as Mark Twain said, “humor is tragedy plus time,” so a little space between me and this breakup was all it took for me to see exactly what happened:
I WANTED IT TOO BADLY. We can always tell when someone is like, a little too into us, you know? It’s weird. It feels desperate. You don’t get breathing room. It makes you want to run for the hills and make them stop touching you for a second. It has the opposite effect that we’re going for and it feels sucky and dumb (my pregnancy brain doesn’t have a deep trove of adjectives to choose from right now but those still feel right).
Learning how to play it cool in relationships is one thing. But when we’re building a business, it suddenly becomes normal– admirable, even– to set these lofty goals and chase them so thirstily that we COMPLETELY forget ourselves. We call it “the hustle.” We fight with our best friend and our mom because we’re so stressed out. We say we’re “driven.” We treat our career like the centerpoint in our lives and desperately pursue the next level (forgetting entirely to enjoy the level we’ve already made it to), and our culture supports this wholeheartedly.
And we never once, in the middle of this race, think that the law of attraction— our ability to manifest the things we focus most intensely on— might also get a little nervous when we’re so desperately chasing career shit. It senses when we want things in an unhealthy way and considers quietly leaving the room before we’re ready. And we’re left banging our heads against the wall, wondering why we can’t break through to the next level that we’ve invented in our minds.
I just finished Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and that woman has some serious career wisdom to offer! She’s proof that no matter what your career looks like from the outside, no one ever really wakes up and thinks “YES. I made it. I am now successful and cool.” One of my favorite parts:
“Too often we are told to visualize what we want and cut out pictures of it and repeat it like a mantra over and over again… (But) I am introducing a new idea. Try to care less. Practice ambivalence. Learn to let go of wanting it. Treat your career like a bad boyfriend.
Here’s the thing. Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you’re around. It will forget your birthday and wreck your car. Your career will blow you off if you call it too much. It’s never going to leave its wife. Your career is fucking other people and everyone knows but you.
Your career will never marry you.”
Let’s keep our goals lofty and our dreams big and the hustle real, but let’s also remember that life is fleeting and brief and often unpredictable. Your career could break up with you tomorrow over the phone— then what? Did you miss out on eating pie at midnight because you stayed home and responded to emails? Have you taken one freaking minute to enjoy this exact level that you’re at? The hustle is fun and growth is important, but let’s not forget that our careers will never marry us— we can ignore their text for a minute.