Today through my random social media scroll, I stumbled on this Human’s of New York post (click the link to read the full caption):
Pretty much every HONY post hits me with a sack-full-of-feels, and this was no exception.
However, I quickly realized after a scroll through the comments,
I was the one of the few who didn’t feel sorry for this young woman.
Empathetic? Yes… because I have been there. I know all-too-well what it’s like to feel like the Queen of Loser Town. To take big chances and feel like you instead become a big joke. To believe the notion that checking the boxes of what society tells us to do is enough to get us to the big thing that makes us who we are supposed to be. That we’re supposed to have it all figured out by the time we walk across that threshold and turn our tassels and throw that cap in the air.
But sorry? Sympathetic?
Listen, I know I get “real” on social media and share my insecurities and vulnerabilities — but I also try to share my gratitude for the things, people, and experiences that lift me out of them and into a space of trying again — and with gusto! This gratitude is a muscle I’m always flexing; I can be sharp, judgy, and quick to dramatize the seemingly insignificant, and I have to often remind myself how freaking lucky I have it. And not that I live 10min from the beach, but that I have generally good health, family who loves me, a roof over my head, and food on the table. How, in essence, how lucky I’ve always had it.
Easy? No. My day-in-and-day-out is always a struggle in one way or another. But I’ve always had the chance every. stinkin’. day. to decide what I’d make of it. And the day that truth hit me, and hit me HARD, is the day I stopped feeling sorry for myself. And for others who also truly do have the opportunity each morning to make decisions for themselves to change their situation.
I don’t know this girl’s whole story. I don’t know what other issues she has or problems she has to deal with in her day-in-and-day-out (see? I’m judgy). But if she’s genuinely passionate about this “dream,” she’ll be the best damn grocery store employee that place has ever seen, and she’ll tear that internship UP and learn everything she can. She’ll do the work with a smile. She’ll fail a little here, earn a serious win there, and she’ll catalogue the important moments and people along the way so when she DOES make it, she holds on to that dream for dear life and works even harder. She’ll be tired and terrified, but she’ll trudge ahead, being grateful for every scrape, bump, bruise, hug, happy hour, crying session, and squealing OMG IT’S HAPPENING moment along the way.
But many people don’t want to do the work. Many people don’t want to be honest about their truths. Many people want instant success, instant gratification, and instant glory. Or worse, they want to wallow and make excuses and hide from their true selves.
Many want to fall victim to society and pressure from “other people” (newsflash: these “other people” are too preoccupied with their own dramas to fixate too much on others, at least for what I’ve observed). Notice this young woman is more concerned about the people from her past, several states away mind you, and what they think than she is with the host of possibility in front of her. She’s surrounded by people who are “nice and educated and [have] dreams.” Isn’t that a gift to have Life place people around you who can inspire and help and be your honest-to-God friends and trudge forth with you?
Again, I don’t know this beautiful, tender-hearted young woman’s real story.
I’m basing an entire hastily written blog post over an Instagram caption.
But that sack-of-feels Humans of NY keeps pelting me with sure gets me thinking of other people who are like those they interview. And for some reason, this girl stuck out.
I know, too, I am of the social media cohort that posts many moments from my “highlight reel.” I know I get excited and share my successes, lucky moments, and things that send me into full-on Kermit flail. And I’m sorry if I ever made any of you think it came easy or conveniently or magically. There’s a lot of grit and mud and doo-doo John and I had to wade through to get to where we are. A lot of cheap bottles of cabernet and nights of lost sleep and neglected friendships. I was FIRED from a “successful” position in a “promising career.” I’ve had breakdowns in public places.
And we have FAR from “made it.”
But that’s what’s made life interesting. And real. And exciting. And worth getting up for.
The people in our lives are those who inspire us to live authentically and not be ashamed of asking for help or laughing really hard at the ironies of Life. Who let us know it is perfectly okay to experience yucky or negative feelings, but holding us accountable to the responsibility to work through it and come out better on the other side. Who get that Life is a fact but also never has to be dull.
So to this young woman, to all the people this girl represents: Please know I’m not indifferent towards you. I don’t want to see you fade away or lose hope. I want to give you a big squeezy hug; and even though you’re silently mouthing “heelllp meee” to the stranger next to us, I hope you surrender just a little bit. I want to take you to the nearest greasy spoon and order the biggest, butteriest waffle and unkink your twisted gut. I want you to realize that in the end the worst case scenario is not that the people from your past think lowly of you; but that you think that way about yourself… and you never allow yourself the space to succeed and to fail. And then I’ll hug you again.
And to any of you identifying with this young lady, know I’d do the same for any of you. Seriously. Email me if you ever want to talk, to vent, to ask about resources that have helped me along the way… or want to laugh really hard at the ironies of Life. Or better, to celebrate your own Kermit-flailing moments.
Hugs & High Fives,
PS. If you want a 2.5min pep talk for why it’s never too late to follow your passions, this clip from Weekend Update is perfection. Leslie Jones is so boss it ding-dang warms my cold, little blonde heart.