In my chosen career path is a software developer I have always been “functional”; I just never got to be great at it. But while others are busy working on their greatness in front of their screens and keyboards, I was happy to assemble a desk for a new hire. While others were buried deep in their craft, my hands were getting dirty organizing a storage room or cleaning the office kitchen. I am not saying that what my teammates were doing was wrong, I just found that because I am not the office All-Star, I can at least do the things that the All-Stars don’t have time for. It is this opportunistic team approach that has kept me gainfully employed for all of my adult life.
What would happen if I added this opportunistic mindset to the rest of my life?
As I began to chip away at the memories of abuse from my childhood, it became apparent that I only had two paths in which to follow. One path leads me to point fingers, stay angry, and stew miserably with the pain that had gripped me for so long. So many of my peers were choosing to lead this path, and through experience, they became masters of pain management.
That path wasn’t for me.
I chose the other path, the one that puts all of my pain up front so that I can live a long life, free from my past. The path I chose requires me to do the shit that nobody else is willing to do: face the daunting pain, expose the truth and don’t stop until I am healed.
During my darkest days, I could have medicated myself with addiction, but luckily I didn’t. Instead, I chose a regimented exercise routine and allowed my natural brain healing hormones balance my moods and thoughts. When I was halted by an antiquated justice system that slowly chugged along with my complaint, I could have retreated in private and backed down, but I didn’t. I chose to stand up and do a TEDx talk about my abuse and then write a book about the journey. When I was beaten down by members of my family who called me out for being a disgrace, I could have bent to their will to keep the peace, but I didn’t. I took the tough road of removing them from my life and never looking back.
Do extraordinary things to rid yourself of extraordinary pain.
We all have emotional weight in our lives. Most often it is a weight that has been given to us by someone else. It is entirely up to us just how long we wish to carry it. A lot of us feel that we get stronger by carrying that weight around like a badge, ready and willing to show it off with blame and pity. But then there are those -the strong ones- who refuse to carry that weight anymore and instead chose every day to do extraordinary things to rid themselves of extraordinary pain. Oprah Winfrey grew up dirt poor and had a child at age 14 who was given up for adoption. Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. Charlize Theron witnessed her mother kill her alcoholic father. I could go on and on with many more examples of strong human spirit, but one thing is clear, each of these success stories are the product of someone choosing to do the shit that nobody else wanted to do.
It is much too easy to place blame.