I admit that I struggle with the general idea that one has to “qualify” in order to get married. There’s this list of things that single women are given and expected to accomplish before they are ready to get married. We tell our girls that boys will always be there and to get their education first. You’re expected to work on yourself, do fun things, finish school, pay off debt, and get a decent job among other things before you qualify for marriage. Now granted, my story is different in that while I’ve always wanted to get married, I had a feeling that I would be on the road less traveled for a long time. I just didn’t anticipate how long it would be. I was hoping for 25 but now I’m pushing 30 without any actual potential mate on the horizon. I find it frustrating when I’m told that there’s something that I’m doing wrong or just haven’t done yet that makes me unqualified to be married. I see people all day, I’m a good listener, I can hold an emotionally safe place and challenge the perspectives of others in a way that is non-threatening and supportive. I’m the sole provider of my household of one and while I’m not rich, bills do get paid and I travel once in a while. I recently completed the highest educational level one can achieve (PhD) and yet the Universe still apparently sees me as unqualified for a mate. I’m all about doing the work but shit, being alone gets old after a while. I’ve learned how to self soothe and what to do to calm myself down but there are times that I’d sell my soul for a hug and the knowledge that someone has my back. Yes, I’m approached by guys but so far they aren’t ready for anything serious or want me to finance their lives and take care of them. Neither is an option I want to live with. It sounds corny but I want to matter to someone. Really matter. I haven’t found that yet and the older I get the less optimistic I am. It’s just exhausting and tiring doing it alone all the time and while I’ll always do what I have to do, I wish things were different.
“Nothing in life is free. There’s a price to be paid for everything and the sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be.” I remember watching a children’s video when I was little where this mantra was repeated several times. But the older I get, the more I think that the saying is true. Nothing that’s worth getting comes easily. Running a business requires hard work, getting the perfect body requires good eating choices and gym time. One thing that I frequently hear myself talking to clients about is creating the life that you want for yourself. While I’ve never been an expert at taking my own advice, there’s something to be said about putting effort into getting what you want. A huge part of success involves actually defining what you want. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life and lose track of the bigger picture. Be specific, write a plan, or get a vision board. Be willing to pay the price for success because the time will pass by anyway.
For some reason I’ve met a lot of people whose retirement plan consists of winning the lottery. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a nice dream to have but the odds aren’t the greatest. I remember reading an article somewhere that talked about how millennials don’t want to spend decades doing the same job like older generations did. I personally can’t imagine doing the same job consistently for over a year as I get bored easily but also like consistency. The truth of the matter is that it’s important to challenge yourself. I’ve started to get into the habit of doing something drastically different every once in a while. It’s amazing how much you can plan and implement when you take some time off and reflect. I like learning new skills that build on my existing knowledge base. While all my jobs haven’t been fun, they’ve taught me so much about myself. I love the idea of stability but I hate when it gets confused with monotony. Life is short and should be lived accordingly. Self-reflection and planning is critical for success. Take the time to do that instead of staying in reaction mode all the time.
A while back I had a conversation with someone that I’ve known for a while and we were discussing their previous career aspirations. They spoke at length about the work that they had done in engineering with NASA. During the course of the conversation they mentioned how in this context, engineers and other relevant personnel knew the difference between “regular” time and real time. Regular time involved the somewhat present and the future. It wasn’t a critical matter and there was time to evaluation and make changes based on results and tests. Real time was totally different and focused on the here and now. Everything had to be squared away and had to run smoothly because it was mission-critical. A mistake at this point would have disastrous results and there wasn’t a chance to change or adjust because everything was happening in real time. It reminded me of life. We aren’t offered a dress rehearsal and there are no do-overs. Everything happens in real time. While we make mistakes, most of us try to make as few as possible because there can be lifelong repercussions from brief moments of stupidity. People die with regrets and so many people would make different choices if they only knew what the future consisted of. One of my new (lifelong) goals is to make more decisions in real time. Like a lot of people I know, I’m notorious for thinking and re-thinking even the smallest decision because I want to successfully separate the pros and the cons before I come to a conclusion. I’m not advocating for being really impulsive but I am saying that one thing I’ve learned (through life and also my job) is that your gut instinct is usually right. Sometimes you just know things and while there’s no way to articulate why or how, you just know. It’s in those situations I think we benefit and grow from going with our gut and not always succumbing to the urge to second guess, become anxious, or worry about something that was already decided. It’s then that we can make the decision to be ok with it and let the chips fall where they may because after all, life is lived on real time.
So many times we think of success as something to be attained instead of something that requires constant movement and action with the anticipated result changing as we go forward. As I get closer to turning a year older, I can help but think about how my definition of success has changed from when I was younger. There are still so many things that I want to do and avenues that I haven’t explored. To me, being successful is having the freedom to do what you want when you want without the confinement of a tradition 9-5 job. The ability to turn down opportunities because you don’t need the money and to travel all over just because you want to. That’s what I want. However it’s important to remember that success requires consistent effort towards sometime specific. You really can’t be halfway successful. You have to be willing to put in the time daily and be disciplined enough to not require constant external motivation.
This article was super interesting to me. As someone who has an MSW and also knows a lot of people who have MBA’s it struck me as odd that we are just now connecting these two degrees. Personally, I think that the intersection of social work and business would produce more well rounded professionals with better people skills and a better understanding of personality theories. I’ve read other articles that have stated that getting an MBA is becoming so popular that it’s weight has often been disregarded. The truth of the matter is that many business people could use social work skills just like social workers could use more business skills. From my perspective, I think that learning how to start and run a non-profit and having the necessary tools to help it to succeed would be a good thing for social workers. Being in a profession that is thankless and where you rarely actually make the salary that you’re worth, an additional degree could give the needed edge to reach a higher socioeconomic status. As someone who appreciates education that is practical and gives one the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen field, I think that the MSW-MBA degree will become quite popular because it’s the best of both worlds. The combination of the skills sets in these disciplines will be something that will be highly coveted in coming years.
Have you ever looked around and wondered why so many people live in a box? Not literally. While there are millions of people who live in boxes I’m referring to the box of the expectations of other people. One thing that social psychology has taught me is how much we influence each other. The saying, “no man is an island” actually has some truth to it. We are more productive in a community that is positive and supportive. However, sometimes it’s necessary to venture out of the community on your own. It’s easy to settle for stuff when you’re in a group of people doing the same thing. There are numerous examples of people who had to separate themselves from their peers and friends in order to succeed in life. It’s the life that 95% of people don’t want to live. They may be uncomfortable in the box but they’ll never leave because they aren’t willing to risk being misunderstood by their close friends and family. Being truly successful means breaking free of the expectations of others and competing with yourself. The 5% of people who are successful are willing to go the extra mile and do what others are too lazy, too tired, too busy, and too unfocused to do. It’s not an easy road but the results are permanent.