I've never seen the movie 'Top Gun'. I'd never seen any of the 'Star Wars' movies until a boyfriend I had when I was 26 insisted that we watch ALL of them. I watched 'No Country for Old Men' and couldn't figure out what the hell it was about or why it won an Oscar. There are countless other movies, that apparently everyone else has seen, which I haven't. So I guess I won't be listing "movie buff" or "cinematography enthusiast" in the "about" section on my Facebook profile.
So, shocking, really, I'm sure, that I've never seen 'Groundhog Day'. I know Bill Murray's in it, and he keeps waking up to the same day over and over again, but I've never seen it. I have no idea how it ends. So, other than a very loose idea of what I just described, I'm clueless about nearly the entire thing.
The other night, my friend and I met up for a girl's night out. We got to our meeting place before our other friends arrived. Sitting in the car, talking about the latest, my friend said to me, "Why are all of my relationships screwed up? It always gets so screwed up, every time. I always end up with the wrong person I'm never going to get it right., am I?"
I said, "No. You will. It's not impossible. You just have to work at it. If you keep doing what you're doing, though - you will end up that way,. But the good thing is, you know why this is happening, so you're lucky. Most people never figure that part out. So, now you just have to work at changing it. All you have to do is put in the work. Invest in yourself. Invest in the other people you share your life with, and you'll get it right eventually."
Not for one second, do not believe that people are destined to have awful relationships. I don't believe the cliche that marriage and commitment end in disaster for every single person who sets out on that path I don't believe that we're fated for lackluster careers, and only the lucky people (whoever they are) realize true professional fulfillment. I reject the idea that most people have to live empty lives. I vigorously contend that your best life is possible - but you have to work for it, and you have to adjust your expectations.
I only know this because I've lived it. I only believe it because it's been true for me. I'm not by any means saying that I've got the perfect personal or professional relationships, but I have figured out that if I want to have good relationships, I have to work on myself.
I only learned this a few years ago, and, to my amazement, sometimes, I still get tripped up by the same little things I thought I'd mastered. Just last week, I was talking with someone about how I noticed that I had a recurring theme that seemed to carry over throughout my entire life. This thread, seemingly innocent, has woven its way through the fabric of my life, without me being conscious of it. The thread, not entirely awful or destructive, has still caused some snags, some big, some small.
The thread isn't necessarily devastating, but it isn't healthy, either. Once I'd become hip to this irksome little theme, I was determined not to allow it to weave itself into the fabric of my life any longer, since it only seemed to hold me back. Dreams and aspirations alluded me because of this seemingly innocuous pattern.
In response to this realization, I stepped out with almost reckless abandon, doubled with sheer determination, I quit my job, started two companies, and never looked back. With no safety net, little security, but complete confidence that I was doing what was absolutely necessary to live the best version of what my life could be, there were seldom any bad days.
I faced a major fear. I called a bluff and meant it. I walked out on something I'd worked incredibly hard for and I did it because I realized that no matter how much more time I devoted to it, how much of my energies it drained, it was never going to be what it should or could be.
There were some rough days. There was once when I silently cried for two minutes in my hallway, frustrated and overwhelmed. After the realization that nothing that was happening at that time was worse than the "best" day I'd had while working at my last job, the crying seemed self-indulgent and, more importantly, stupid. The perspective was important.
Feeling confident that I'd finally mastered the ability to move beyond the little quirky pattern that had held me back at certain key points in my life, I was sure I'd conquered it. I learned recently that I was totally wrong. The pattern, sneaky and covert, is a tough one to quit! When talking about it with a different friend, she asked me if I'd ever seen 'Groundhog Day'. "No, I must have missed that one", was my reply.
Because I'm clueless to the moral of the story of 'Groundhog Day', Dawn explained
that Murray's character is destined to repeat the same pattern until he starts making changes. Once he starts making different choices, he sees significant results.
It isn't rocket science. It isn't brilliant insight, but it is practical and hard-to-do work., and sometimes, even when you think you've figured it out, you're not quite there yet.
Indignant, I protested silently, "BUT I DID make different choices. I quit my FREAKING JOB! I started making different choices in my personal relationships. I'm DOING THE HARD WORK of rounding out my communication style, investing in people and taking risks personally and professionally. WHAT MORE DID I NEED TO DO???!! WHAT OTHER CHANGES ARE LEFT TO MAKE?!"
Indignity aside, I took the medicine and decided that even though I hadn't ditched the pattern, I had in fact, made some significant progress. I'm not where I'm going, but I'm not where I've been. So, at this point, most of you are wondering what any of this has to do with granola.
More often than not, I hear friends beat themselves up for "falling off their diet", "caving to a craving" that caused them to "relapse" back into their old patterns. There's a tone of shame and a look of embarrassment on their faces. There's a sense of defeat. There's an overwhelming feeling of frustration and anger, directed towards themselves because they've "failed" again. The same brow-beating is echoed when it comes to personal relationships, like my friend was talking about Friday night.
It's upsetting when you've tried and "failed". It's hurtful to realize that, even with the best efforts, you've once again been "beaten" by an old pattern. What's important to remember is that you've not been "beaten" until you ultimately give up.
If you decide to shelve it all, walk away, and surrender, then maybe you have really failed. But, if you make the decision, every day, to mindfully continue, change attitudes, adjust your expectations, and renew your commitment to yourself (no matter what the commitment may be), you'll eventually be where you want to be. Better, more insightful, and in control, rather than your impulses and fears controlling you.
Nothing is perfect. Besides, perfect is boring. I'm going for happy. The good news is, it's only up to me to get there.
Stacy Sloan; Chef & Founder of Three Little Birds