My last post was “Why I am Unsuccessful,” where I described recognizing failure and moving on. I have another story I would like to share. It described another way in which I was unsuccessful this month and how I dealt with the situation. It will give a more complete picture of how my weekend went and how I handle stress. For better or for worse.
I struggled with the decision to drive the 3 hours to Leonard Lake Reserve on Sunday for my friends wedding party. Let’s be honest, I struggle with most decisions. In this particular case, the ceremony had already been held and I knew that a large group of gleeful hung over ladies and gentlemen, many of whom I did not know, awaited me at the Lake. Receiving this post from Danielle LaPorte’s blog, pushed me over the edge. Fine, I would commit, I would make the drive. If nothing else, it would be a mini-grand adventure by myself. Road trip!
I work up at 5:30am in Palo Alto, drove to my house in San Francisco to change and then jumped on the 101 going North. It is a beautiful thing to leave the foggy parts of the Bay Area. California’s landscape always blows me away and it’s a treat to wind over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the rainbow tunnel and into Marin’s sunnier parts. Cruising through wine country, I stopped in Healdsburg at Flying Goat Coffee for a break. I typed away on my computer at their counter while sipping a chai, feeling for a moment that this might be what it’s like to be a location independent writer on vacation. The trip was already worth it, watching the fog fall away to golden California hills and a bright blue sky.
The directions were simple enough, I made a left off the 101 onto Reeves Canyon Road and began the 12 miles of bumpy dirt road. Yay mini adventure! I have traveled a few dirt roads in the middle of no where by myself. I haven’t traveled so many that I don’t think twice about it. There is a different air about these things, as I strike out on my own.
I took the long solo drive as an opportunity to listen to some podcasts. Srini Rao from BlogcastFM and Dan Andrews from Tropical MBA accompanied me on my journey, and their voices didn’t fade as I veered off the main road and into the quiet forest of Redwood Valley. It was early enough that I felt relaxed about timing, imagining that I would stop somewhere along the way to take a dip in a stream or nap or read on a patch of grass if I found an inspiring spot. I rolled over baby bridges, through shadowy patches, and kicked up plenty of dust behind me. Eventually all the bumps in the road got to my bladder, as was I tanked up on water and coffee. I pulled over near a random gate and decided it was time for a pee and stretch break.
I stepped out of the car and breathed in the warm oak smell. I love the dry heat here. I pulled off my jean shorts and slipped into a flowery dress, changing into something a bit more festive. I picked a strategic spot in the bushes, held up my dress and peed in the woods. Ah! Satisfaction. The sun streamed through the tree branches, I could hear birds singing, and here I was, alone in the woods.
I plopped back into the drivers seat, imagining that the lake was waiting for me. I was ready for a swim. I sat for a minute, glancing around me. My dress has no pockets and I was empty handed. Oh yes, the key! It was in my jean shorts somewhere in the chaos of the back seat. I stepped out, allowing the door to swing shut, and reached for the rear door handle. I pulled. Nothing happened.
This can’t be happening.
I pulled again. The door did not open. I frantically pulled on the front door. It was undoubtably locked. I pulled anyway. No. No. No! The plays over and over in my head, holding my hands up, scanning the seat around me, “where is the key?” I ask myself sitting in the front seat. I open the door with my left hand, that damn stupid lock button right beneath the door handle! Why do they put that there!? WHY!? As I opened the door, the weight of the side of my hand went down on the lock button and in one brief moment, everything seemed to change. There I stood, in the middle of the beautiful, calm woods, in a flowery dress and flip flops.
There was no cell phone reception for 6 miles, and I didn’t have my phone on me, so that was out. I was in the middle of the woods with nothing. I panicked briefly, my breathing became rapid and shallow. I paced back and forth and put my hands on my head again, covering my face. “Of course this is happening!” I thought, ready to cry. Should I cry? Do I laugh? What is happening right now? I pulled on the car door several more times and peered through the windows, attempting a sighting of the key. Not that it would have made any difference. Maybe I dropped it on the ground while I was peeing? I scoured the premises, finding nothing.
Now, apparently with most Prius keys, they advertise that you can’t lock yourself out because there is a proximity mechanism that detects the key. My brother’s Prius key happens to be broken. As he handed me this key, he joked “Don’t lock yourself out!” You literally need manually to take the metal key out of the electric part and physically unlock the door to get it. Then you put the key back together and put it in the ignition port. This is another broken record that played over and over in my head as I tried to figure out what to do. The key is in the car. There is no unlocking the car.
I came to the conclusion that I had 2 choices. I could walk the rest of the way to Leonard Lake and use the land line (!!) to call a locksmith and see how much it would cost for them to find me out here. Or I could break one of the rear windows and merrily continue on my way. My roommate had recently had her car broken into and she told me it costed less than $200 to have the window fixed. The way I did the math, breaking the window might be the cheaper and easier solution. That minus the time and stress of having to get the car fixed. Damn.
To Be Continued…
Rejection sucks. Whether it’s not getting a job or unrequited love. Maybe it was just an unpaid internship, or simply asking someone out for coffee. Depending on where you’re at, it can feel like water off a ducks back or it can feel gut wrenching to hear “No.” You tell yourself that you have nothing to lose. That it really isn’t so bad. Yet, that wave comes crashing down on you regardless. It pushes you over, pummels you in a rolling tumble and you attempt to keep your limbs from flailing; resisting as the disappointment shoots up your nostrils. You struggle to regain any footing, there is no hope in doing it gracefully.
Rejection sucks because it is disorienting. You have mustered your strength and you are stepping into the world knowing you are about to make yourself vulnerable. With rejection comes self doubt. Did I make the right decision? Why did I stick my neck out? Was it a stupid risk to take? Putting ourselves into vulnerable positions, we walk a fine line between pain and pleasure. There is the opportunity for great reward: ego-boosting, superhero soaring, high-on-life emotions. On the other side, there is a small dog with his tail between his legs. You feel heavy, as though you are sinking, and the surface of the water sparkles as it gets farther away and the darkness engulfs you.
I experienced such a moment this past weekend. I regularly ask myself “what do I have to lose?” and love to boldly step forward towards whatever life has to offer. And I did just that. I gathered my guts, took a deep breath and pretended I was brave for 20 seconds. I opened my mouth and expressed interest in someone. Initially, in those micro-seconds between peoples responses to each other, there was a huge sense of relief for getting it off my chest. But that moment was fleeting. As soon as I had extended myself, he shook his head, frowned and simply said “No.” There may have even been a hand on my arm, and while you would think the physical contact is nice (which it is), the moment makes me sad.
It happened. It came, it went, and was it really that bad? The answer is yes. And the answer is no. I have the right to be ambivalent! It was that bad in the sense that my ego is plenty bruised, largely due to the genuine interest that I can sense inside myself and that rejection can often persent us with hurtful questions towards ourselves (am I not good enough? What’s wrong with me? Etc.) It is not that bad because that moment is over. It is in the past. I did it, I had the balls to do what I had to do, and it was wildly successful in that I faced what could have held me back: fear. And we all know that fear is the mindkiller.
As I move farther away from my rejection incident and more into my week, I have serendipitously come across several helpful resources to deal with any residual pain. I was attempting to clean out my email and opened a video from Marie Forleo. Marie asks “Feeling Lost?” Even though we have heard these little tid bits a million times before, it is refreshing to hear them again. Here are 4 ways to start over when things fall apart:
- Everything happens for a reason.
- Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Feel the pain without your story!
- Be present.
- Do the basics one day at a time.
As humans, we rationalize everything. That’s fine and in this case, allow yourself to sink into the belief that everything DOES happen for a reason. You are exactly where you need to be. This may be a difficult thing to accept. Feel that. It may help to close your eyes for a minute. What does it really physically feel like to be rejected? Feel the physical sensations without the story that you tell yourself about what happened. This will keep you present. Practice this over and over again. Take care of your needs, do what needs to be done, one task at a time, one day at a time. Simple, surprisingly not easy.
I also received a short post from Leo Babauta at Zen Habits: The Obstacle is the Path. It embodies the four points above. Why are you running from discomfort? Why are spending your time wishing things were different from the way that they are? I want to love my life and myself the way that we are right now. I am still playing the broken record of the moment I was rejected and I am still experiencing the disappointment. However, I keep bring myself back to the present and focusing on the success and opportunity that is a result of taking risks.
Be brave. Be bold. You only live once.