You are not done yet

December 05, 2009

Today we will be focusing on something important: Perspective.

How easy it is to lose it sometimes. It is actually mind-boggling how most of us can feel lost and abandoned over the most trivial of things.

I’m not saying that it’s not OK to feel down on occasion, after all we are only human. We all have problems to face in our daily lives, and these things matter. When something you put your time, dedication and effort into comes crashing down, it’s natural to feel the blow. It means you care. And, in an era where personal relationships are often defined by something as lame as your choice of social network (yes, the Twitter Defenders Vs the Facebook Advocates, stuff like that), it’s good to care about things. But you also have to put those things in their place. While they may add value to your life, they do not, cannot and should not define who you are.

Let me illustrate my point. Say your good friend Larry is going through a crisis. He goes to the office every day, 9 to 5, then hits the gym for an hour, and then goes home. By the time he gets there he is exhausted, and he doesn’t really have the energy to meet his friends for a drink, so he just stays in, watching whatever crappy show is on. Later on, when he is about to fall asleep, he realizes he doesn’t know why he keeps doing the same thing over and over again. He has no purpose. His life isn’t exciting, he is not meeting new people (i.e. women), and this means his weekends are also filled with monotony and routine. It sucks, doesn’t it? Even more, the worst part of it is that he can’t see a way out. He is stuck.

Well, apparently Larry really actually is Screwed.

You sure about that? Let’s engage for a moment in a simple exercise of Perspective.

Larry is a nice guy. He is likeable, he can produce and maintain an interesting conversation about a wide range of topics, and he has a certain aura of honesty that is perceived almost immediately by those who interact with him. He is, simply put, a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get kind of guy.

Furthermore, he has a good job. It may not be very exciting, like an Indiana Jones of computers or whatever, but it is intellectually challenging, and forces him to actively find solutions and create original ideas every day. And, he’s really good at what he does. He is appreciated by his peers, and his work is valued by his coworkers as well as his superiors. Plus, the brunette in HR has had an eye on him for a while now, and she keeps giggling at him every day at the coffee break, trying to let him know she’s interested (being a Professional Nerd, of course, it will still take him some more time to get the message).

My point is, when things don’t go as you hoped they would, you tend to focus on the things you don’t have, instead of focusing on the things you do have, of which there are usually many more, and that are usually more essential. In my example, Larry has a good job (something not to be underestimated in this economy), he has friends, family, and, most importantly, he has control over all of these things. He can choose what to do in life, and that privilege belongs exclusively to him. And still, he is depressed because of some weird notion that his life is not exciting.

The same thing applies to Love. The absolute first-ranked cause of depression (apart from terminal disease, that is), is Rejection. Whether it is because the person we want to be with doesn’t reciprocate, or when a long-term relationship ends, these are the moments when we feel almost required by society to be depressed. We are surrounded by literally millions of songs about Despair and Rejection, how in the world are we supposed to not feel bad when every song in the planet talks about us? Hell, people even kill themselves or others over this every day. The ultimate gesture of Love. Or of Idiocy, Egotism, Selfishness, Bastardy and Son-Of-A-Bitchness, depending on how you look at it.

The answer is, once again, Perspective. It is a powerful force at our disposal, and one that we should always remember how to use. Statistically, the chances of finding True Love in a fast-paced world are pretty low. That is the reason why most people simply get tired of looking and settle for a nice-enough relationship, one that makes them content with their lives. This can be a very wise choice, or a very stupid one, if taken for the wrong reasons. Some people are just not equipped to live in a relationship and, hello, Mr. Divorce or Mr. Affair will show up at the door sooner rather than later. Failing that, Lady Depression is always waiting behind the scenes, and she is a terrific performer once she gets on stage.

Perspective can help us navigate these waters. Perspective will show you with brutal clarity that there are very little things in this world that cannot be solved. There almost always is a way out, you just need to find it. And Perspective will lead you to Self-Confidence. So, you’re not in a relationship, so what? What’s the hurry? Thinking like that, chances are you wouldn’t be able to hold on to one if you had it anyway, so what are you complaining about? True Love, a Fulfilling Relationship, a Soul Mate, these are things that only a few very fortunate people have. And if one day you find them, they will bring immense Joy to your life. But the lack of them shouldn’t be viewed as a reason to feel bad. It should simply be the normal situation. And in that situation you can be Awesome, and you can be Happy. You have a million positive things going for you, let yourself feel the anticipation of Great Things To Come. You are just a work in progress, and you are not done yet.

You can’t skip to the end of the book, you have to read through every single page, and you never know which one will be the best. So, next time you are tempted to let yourself go, I want you to say the following out loud. Don’t just think it, SAY IT:

I am not done yet.

I want you to think about the three times you have felt most Screwed in your life. Screwed like there’s no tomorrow. Moments where you thought, “this can’t be happening”. I have no idea what they are because this is your life, not mine. It may be that crucial deadline you missed, that exam you failed, that time you let your parents down, or that time your girlfriend told you she’d rather you were just friends.

Got them? Good. And how did things turn out in the end? Are you still breathing? Is the sky still blue? Didn’t you still go on and live your life and get out of that trouble? And are you not smarter, better prepared, and stronger now?

Then what are you afraid of?

What you have to remember is this: Every single day you decide which kind of person you want to be. And every choice you make takes you a step closer or farther from that person. It is important that you choose carefully.