I just read this great article from an online magazine I read regularly called PRSUIT about doing nothing and being ok with it. In this age of hustle and bustle, we are always so focused on do do do that we never sit down to just be in the moment and experience it. At the beginning of the article, Konrad Stoick told readers to take 5 minutes to do nothing but focus on the breathing in and out. And, though I tried, I inevitably began thinking about everything else that was going on in life and had to continually refocus my mind on doing nothing. Finally, I settled on one thought (the closest number to thinking about 0 things is thinking about 1 thing). So I repeated over and over again in my head “I’m blessed.” And I am. I had a meeting recently with someone and I remember hearing the most braggadocious statement come from that person’s mouth and I thought, “I hope I never sound like that.” And then I thought to my recent trip to Asia and how it appears to someone who may have never left North Carolina. I can say all day that I got the tickets for a fraction of the cost that they should have been but that fraction is more than many have. So, as a result of this moment of clarity, constantly reiterating to myself that I’m blessed, I realized that my blessings can be seen as braggadocious to someone else. So I want to take a chance to put into perspective why I am blessed.
8 years ago, I was forced to change majors and, at that moment, my life’s plans (which God was laughing at years before) were forever changed. That same year, my family went through the most troubling financial times that I had ever seen (and I had seen some tough ones before) that resulted in both a lack of certainty and an increased need of support on my part.
5 years ago, I graduated college with a degree that America, collectively, doesn’t believe adds a ton of value to society (I beg to differ but that argument isn’t worth having), no job, and tens of thousands of dollars of debt. I was unable to pay rent but worked it out with my apartment complex that I would when I found a job. Not 6 months after graduating, I lost my father. Then I found a job that I hated in a call center. If I had stuck with it, I would probably be a manager there (far from my purpose but it would have been a decent check). Thing is, I didn’t stick with it and ended up working outside at a produce stand that I walked 3 miles each way to.
2 years ago, I left a city that I loved (and job that wasn’t the worst) for the woman that I love after she lost her mother. I left Charlotte with no job, no job prospects, no car, and only my younger sister’s living room to call home. I had a little saved but not enough. I ended up securing a retail job to make ends meet but I was further from happy than east from west.
18 months ago, I walked into a role that would define this era of my professional career. I was overworked and underpaid but it was good experience. I knew that my role was more valuable and that I would have to fight for the dollars that I deserved, were I to stay at that institution. I was engaged and we were moving into a place of our own just before the wedding. We shared a car. Things could have been a little better but they could have been a lot worse (a phrase that I’ve begun responding with whenever asked “How are things going?”) I had just gotten my passport.
3 months ago, I began a job in the field of education. Though no job will ever be perfect, I really enjoy the fact that they’re investing in both me right now and in my future growth. By now, I have been married for just shy of 14 months. In those months, I have spent nights in six nations outside of the United States. I have had both a niece and a nephew now, both who make me smile to no avail. I have taken on a role at my church that allows me to serve more. I have developed better financial habits that will provide my children with opportunities to develop in ways that I was not able to (no disrespect at all to my upbringing because I was very fortunate that my parents sacrificed for my siblings and I to have the education that we received). I am reading more and writing more. I am able to give back, both in time and money, to institutions that invested in me at a time when there was as much of a risk of as a return on investment.
So, when I read Konrad’s article and then continuously told myself I am blessed, I truly realize that I am. I don’t have to be where I am. I could be jobless. I could be unable to pay rent. I could be still sleeping on a pallet on my sister’s floor. I could be in jail. I could be dead. Or worse, I could be dead and in hell. I could be so much worse off right now. Or I could be a little better. I don’t ever intend to brag but to show that things can and will get better if you put faith and work together. It’s all about perspective.
Make happiness a priority.