“If you are a dreamer, you are realistic, you are determined, and most importantly you are optimistic. Success will just be a result of your actions. Importantly, optimism is not about being positive as much as it is about being determined and enthusiastic.”
– Suzanne C. Segerstrom, Breaking Murphy’s Law
I’ve always considered myself somewhat of a pessimist. My sense of humor has always been dry, sarcastic, and leaning toward self-deprecating at times, so I think pessimism can come a little too naturally to people like me. But these days – almost two years removed from my cancer diagnosis (!!) – things are shifting.
It is true when people say your life can change in a moment. It is also true that this moment can make or break a person. I’ve had a couple of these moments over the course of my life, but the moment I’m referencing, the most recent, the one I really paid attention to, was the day of my diagnosis, compounded by many moments after it.
After that day my life divided into 3 parts: my personal life, my professional life, and my cancer life. Each of these parts came with its own set of people, personalities, skills, and knowledge that I had to learn how to keep up with.
Not only did I need to learn how to keep up with each part, but I also needed to continue to be proactive in each area.
I needed to nurture and sustain my friendships.
Even when I was exhausted.
I needed to research my diagnosis, my doctors, my insurance, and my options to make sure I was making the right decisions for me and my quality of life going forward.
Even when I was frustrated.
I also needed to excel at my job that I still worked full time.
Even when I felt like my world was crashing down around me.
And I needed to do all of this while running a household with no help physically or financially from a significant other (although my mom was a wonderful help when she was in town).
All of this took a ton of effort and energy, which left no room for my pessimistic tendencies.
It forced me to take a hard look at my life and figure out what I wanted it to look like in the future. If I’m doing all of this work to ensure that I live to see old age, then I damn sure need to make sure the work will be worthwhile. It forced me to admit to myself that my time on this earth will be short, and it solidified my need to make a difference while I have the privilege of being here.
As a result of all of this, I am finding my passion in education.
I am finding that as I allow myself to dream (realistically), I am becoming more of a “glass half full” kind of person.
Because once you have a vision for your life, once you decide on the type of person you want to be and where you want to end up, you embrace it, you absorb it, you live it. You do everything in your power to become your vision. And right now, that’s what I’m trying to do. (It’s also the reason for the lag in blog posts.)
I’m realizing how important the decisions I make today really are. I’m finding that once you have a vision for how you want things to be, you end up in situations – and start naturally making decisions – that push you closer to that place.
But the trick isn’t focusing solely on that destination, we have to learn to enjoy the journey along the way. Yes, we are working towards that vision, but we have to learn to find happiness in everyday moments too. Even if we fail. Otherwise, we’ll always be searching for something, right?
So stop and smell the flowers. Recognize success – even in defeat. Know in your bones that if you keep following the path you set for yourself, eventually you will get there because every decision you are making – even when it doesn’t seem like it – gets you a step closer to what you want.
I’m not perfect, but these are the things I am trying to incorporate into my every day. It’s easier in some areas than others. For instance, I know in my bones that the work I am doing and the career I am building will pay off – for me and for the company I am working for. However, I don’t feel that same confidence in finding what I’m looking for in a partner before I lose my privileges on this earth.
So I’ve got some work to do. I always will, I figure.
What about you? How do you stay determined, proactive and enthusiastic in this process? Will your moment make you, or will it break you?