Tuesday, August 29, 2017

30 Days of Gratitude: Prompt 29

Let's get into today's prompt. It's a long one, but that's because it's my last written prompt. Number 30 is a video. The text below is golden and hopefully inspiring. Enjoy.

Day 29: What is different today than a year ago that you are grateful for?

Everything right now in my life is different than where they were exactly a year ago. In so many good ways. One thing I take pride in is that I can recognize when I'm feeling stagnant, not growing and not happy. I set very high bars and standards for myself and if I'm not at them, things need to change ASAP. The past couple years for me have been constantly moving. Moving from job to job, career field to career field, city to city, state to state, apartment to apartment. I'd think I'd be stationary with a new job, new city and new apartment, ready to settle down, but then shortly after I'd get feelings of regret and "Mmm this isn't right for me." For example, last August around this time, I was working in a parks and recreation job that I really liked but there was zero challenge and room for growth. Discouraging, yes absolutely. I was also living around thirty minutes away, out in the sticks, from any of my friends and family. Having a social life with a job that never gave you weekends off and required you to work usually until six or seven in the evening and holidays, was impossible. Living a tiring drive away from any close fun also made having a social life, impossible. I was becoming unhappy and caught myself in it.

I remember the day I emailed my landlord telling them I wasn't going to renew my lease and the day I spent after a a rough afternoon at work struggling with a disaster of an accounting system at one of the state parks, stepping up my job search and applying to like ten jobs in one night. Then I started going in for interviews and looking at new apartments come late winter/early spring. There was this glimmer of hope that the end of a rough chapter was ending and the start of a new, better one was beginning to light. I decided to go back to my roots of what I went to school for- journalism, advertising and public relations, and set a goal for myself that I had to find a job that allowed me to write full-time. I just so happened to find an editorial gig in something automotive-related, nailed the interviews and writing tests and started on June 6. I've been at the magazine almost three months now and I'm unbelievably happy, excited to use my talents and degree, proud and relieved. Weeks before my first day at the journalism job, I moved into a charming, new apartment in an awesome neighborhood and for the first time in all the leases I've had- this feels like home. Cue a sigh, cue a smile. My social life is back exactly where I want it to be. Just about all of my best friends are only about a ten minute drive from my front door and going out no longer happens only on Friday or Saturday night for a few, unfulfilling short hours. I also get to spend way more time with my family now since they're just up the road from me. It's such a great feeling all-around.

August 29, 2017 is miles ahead better than August 29, 2016. Despite a few bumps, ruts and wounds- for the first time since I graduated college I can confidently say that I've got my life pieced together and I'm rocking it (or if I want to be brash, I feel like I finally have my shit together). Life is too short to worry about unstable jobs where you're busting hard to make minimal pay, jobs that have overly cocky managers screaming down at you, jobs that don't challenge you or help unleash your fullest potential. It's not worth the time or effort to care about and want someone around who doesn't appreciate you, cheats and accuses then cowardly vanishes rather than sticking with you to work things out. Now is the perfect chance to stop engaging in activities or habits that feel forced or you're not quite married to and don't benefit you in any way whatsoever. You have to pause and question if these habits are going to improve you as a person down the line. It took me awhile to realize all of this and accept it but my gosh I'm grateful I did. Now is the time for aiming sky-high for meaningful, appropriately-fitting jobs where you will shine bright at and own. Now is the time to associate with genuine, quality faces that love you for who you are, support you and want to be there with and encourage you every single step along the way. Now is the time to dump all of your energy and passion (and maybe money) into your hobbies, making it so that you just crave doing that particular skill or craft you fancy, over and over again.

In 2013, I was in a bad, depressing slump. I hated my job, wasn't in the greatest health, rarely saw my friends and family as much as I wanted to and was loosing interest in many of my hobbies. I felt horrible. That was a dark time. I struggled through it way longer than I should because I failed to recognize how bad it really was and wasn't driven to find an out. Then one day, it clicked and I stopped everything in a desperate effort to better myself and just be happier. Big sacrifices were made but in the end, it was worth it. I used to commute a minimum of four hours a day to my job in Chicago. Key word: minimum. I did this for two and a half years and it was terrible. I met an inspiring friend on the train (Amtrak's Hiawatha, 6:15am going into the Chi, 5:08pm out back to the Mil. Every f*in day.) named Dan Emmons or 'Gatsby' I'd call him. After I decided to cut ties with that dark chapter and go down a new, better path, he said to me:

"The best decision you ever made, was to get off that train."

Take that quote, think about it and maybe apply it to your own life if you feel as if you're struggling. When you're on a set of rails going downhill and you're not happy, get off that train.