I was thrilled. I had two important meetings lined up, back to back. Walking in the doors, I thought for sure that this was it. It felt like I was about to finally meet my destiny.
I was in the process of trying to piece together my ideal career through part-time jobs. I would be able to do all the things I was passionate about, while having a flexible schedule that would allow me to build my blog. I felt like I had harnessed the universe’s energy, and was riding elatedly down the path I had so cleverly planned for myself. When it was finally 11:39 am, I packed up my bags, got in the car, and headed over to the meeting that I hoped would change my life. I drove in a haze, the taste of freedom so very real in my mouth. I parked my car, took a few deep breaths, got out, and started walking to the building. After discussing the first opportunity excitedly, it was time to discuss the most tense part of negotiations—the pay.
“You get about $2,000 for the term.”
I felt like someone had cut the string of a balloon and I was tumultuously tumbling toward outer space. Disappointment seeped through me like a sponge absorbing water. I mean I knew it wouldn’t be a lot, but this was nothing compared to the work and dedication required of this position. I had no words. She asked if I was still interested, and I felt myself nodding.
Next meeting. We were discussing different projects I could be part of, and the things I might be doing. Okay this might work out, I was thinking, it could give me some good experience. A follow-up meeting date was set for a little over a month out, and the conversation stopped. I knew this was my cue to leave, and there had been no mention of a paycheck. I managed to stutter out something like “In the future, are they any paid positions?” “They are far and few between here,” she answered, confirming what I feared—this was unpaid work.
I thought I might throw up. Maybe cry. Maybe both. I walked (I think) out of the building, and poured myself onto a park bench. I tried to center myself, but to no avail. The confidence and energy I had so willfully bounced into the meetings with had disappeared, and I still haven’t been able to find them. This was five days ago, and today I am still feeling lost, feel as though I am wandering through the brush and not strolling confidently down the now-distant path I had carved out only a few months before.
Sitting on my pink fitness ball in lieu of a chair in my current office, my mind is unfocused and my heart heavy. Still, I know this cannot continue. It doesn’t do myself or anyone any good to sulk. I’ve had my time to lament and feel the disappointment, but wallowing further would be to waste the gift of time.
In these moments, I find myself turning back to the same five motivators over and over again.
1. Look at the successes in your desired craft as inspiration
When I get discouraged that my blog will never elevate into anything, or that I don’t have enough readers, I find myself turning to the successful blogs on the internet. Reading other’s stories of their hard work and eventual success helps me realize that they, too, were on a journey, and didn’t give up when things got tough. These writers and creators followed their passions, and now have a hoard of followers admiring their work.
We all jump into something new with a mind’s eye image of immediate ease and success. It is easy to get discouraged when you are pursuing a new craft or career, and feel imminently like a failure when you aren’t hoisted up on a pedestal right away. Instead of comparing yours to theirs, assess their work with a critical eye. What do you like about it? What are they doing differently than you? What is their advice? Ultimately, you need to start thinking: “Someone is going to be successful in X, why wouldn’t it be me?”
2. Do something you love and are good at.
…and this should not be the thing you are frustrated with or feeling lost about. When I am feeling deflated or hopeless, I enjoy painting and cooking. It helps in releasing frustration and getting those endorphins pumping. I ultimately feel better about my situation once I am able to indulge in one of my passions.
3. Teach someone something.
Everyone is good at something. Nothing helps boost your confidence like teaching someone else about something you know a lot about. It doesn’t have to be fancy or large. Teaching a neighbor how to get her herb garden more robust, helping your child make a batch of cookies, or showing a coworker how to use the monstrosity of a printer at work will leave you with a sense of community and self-worth. Appreciation and gratitude from another are great confidence boosters.
4. Write a list of all your accomplishments—and don’t be modest.
This motivator I admittedly received from my mom during a time of self-misery. I didn’t think it would work. I got out a large sheet of paper, some colorful markers, and started writing everything I had accomplished thus far. My mom added a few suggestions, too. Once I was finished I had a paper full of reasons why I was so great.
When making your list, think outside of the box. Having a success relationship (partner or friend) is an accomplishment. Helping the earth by using cloth bags and recycle is wonderful. Completing college is huge. Just working—even though it’s not your ideal job—is a lot better than some people are doing. Don’t forget to enlist a few opinions from those near and dear to you; sometimes our biggest attributes are overshadowed in our minds by our own insecurities.
5. Realize how large and profound the universe is.
Go outside and look up. Sometimes just stepping back from myself and really seeing the magnitude and vastness of the universe is enough to bring about a sense of inner calm. Ever hear the phrase “The universe works in mysterious ways?” It’s a saying for a reason. Even though I can’t see it, I know that there is something bigger out there for me. I fit into the enormity of the universe somewhere. Not being able to see how right now is frustrating, but temporary. Like the seasons, it will change. It will be okay.
When I reflect on any or all of these five motivators, it helps bring me back to standing steadily on my two feet. I don’t feel perfect, but I feel a hell of a lot better. We need to remind ourselves that we are on a continuous journey. The path doesn’t stop where or when you want it, it continues on. You might as well pick up your feet and continue on with it.