Friday, March 9, 2012

Your Life, Your Choice

Ever have those moments where you are in the midst of a pity party? Crying "Why Me?" Feeling so down about the way life has been dealt for you?

I fully admit that I was once guilty of being that way. I used to be that person that always had that "Poor Me" attitude. And I kept waiting for things to get better and they were just getting worse. I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on. At the height of my "Poor Me" state, I was in my early to mid-20's. I was in college and in the midst of finding my identity. I placed so much pressure on myself because I was the first one in my family to go to college and I was determined to use that as a way to say to those family members and people in my life who constantly judged me for years, "You were wrong about me! Ha!"

I was too focused on what they thought of me, their words directed at me and just everything else around me. That focus turned into a negative bubble for which I was stuck in. I was pissed off for a long time and overly sensitive about everything. I had a major chip on my shoulder. I thought that I was so deserving of a better life so why wasn't it happening? I even questioned God and his motives.

Now, I think that when God is questioned, he doesn't get mad - he instead calls your bluff. Because we all know that God has perfect timing and even when we think we are ready for something, only He knows when we are ready. We just have to have faith in Him and be patient. We want things NOW. But life doesn't happen like that. Towards the end of my 20's, my life took some sharp turns, which resulted in me on an entirely different path than I planned. Life can be unpredictable like that. We tend to think we have total control but you cannot escape your destiny and what is meant to be.

I studied Forensic Psychology and even went as far as getting a master's degree in the subject. My first love, writing, was secondary because the only people who really took my writing seriously were my parents. Everyone else would tell me that being a writer was not a "real" career. So I majored in English Lit/Writing as a second major (yes, I was crazy enough to be a double major) but focused on being a forensic psychologist like Clarice Starling from Silence of The Lambs.

But circumstances (and money!) pushed me into Corporate America at the age of 27. And from that point on, my life's path took a different direction and as a result, changed my attitude and life. I met people I would have never been exposed to within my angry bubble because I was so close-minded and standoffish. I began to travel the world. I began to get out and do things. As I racked up experiences in life, the chip on my shoulder began to diminish. I saw things that I will always carry in my mind and heart. And it made me realize that all along, the issue was with ME.

What an A-ha moment, as Oprah calls it! I realized that my life and the way my day goes, is my choice. We will always have setbacks. Believe me, life is never total roses and happiness. But WE choose how we deal with setbacks. WE choose our attitude towards life. WE choose who we let into our space. WE choose how we live our life. Once I got that, it was like a whole new world was opened to me. It was such a powerful thing I uncovered. I felt victorious. I felt empowered. I felt inspired. I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to. I felt pretty powerful and kick-ass.

Living life to its fullest is a choice. When you're feeling down and in the middle of a pity party, you're choosing to feel that way. Look, we are not perfect and we will have our moments. But it's your choice on whether to stay in that pity party or dust yourself off and try again. Each day is a brand new day - a do-over. Every morning you wake up is a blessing because you get a clean slate. You get to create your day. How awesome is that?!?

At the end of the day, you cannot get that day back. So if you don't choose to live your life in the best way possible, you are basically wasting the time that was gifted to you at birth. We all have great gifts to offer the world and when you don't use those gifts to your fullest potential, you're doing a disservice to yourself and everyone around you. You are basically not living your life. And there are so many people out there who don't have the time you have and would love to get a second chance to live. Life is a gift, plain and simple. Whether you have 3 years or 100 years, the time you have is precious and once it's gone, it's gone.

So now, I choose joy. I choose to not have negative people in my life. I choose to take it one day at a time and not spend most of my time focusing on tomorrow. Tomorrow is unknown. I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow. But I know what is going to happen this very moment because it is my choice. I choose to not let others affect my joy. I can't control what others say and do but I can control their presence in my space. We all have dealt with people that have mistreated us or said things to us that caused us pain. I realized that I make the choice on whether to let someone continue to mistreat me. Once someone shows you how they are and how they treat you, if you stick around and let that mess continue, that is on you. Because you are making the choice to keep that person in your life.

I know it sounds easier said than done because it is. We get emotionally attached to people and sometimes stay in negative situations because of history, even blood! I hear all the time from others about friction within their family. And I always tell people, you can't choose your biological family but you can choose whether you will deal with them or not. The blood relation will never go away but you don't need to stand for any mistreatment from anyone. Just because someone is family does not give them a free pass to treat you any way they want. If they truly loved you and respected you as a family member and person, they would not be treating you badly. Believe me, I know from experience.

I know it's strange to be quoting one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta in a post like this but Phaedra Parks said something in a past episode that stayed with me. She said "You eulogize yourself with the deeds you do in your life." Deeds are not just what you do for others. It's what you do for yourself. It's your imprint, your impression on the world. Those deeds become part of the legacy you leave behind. With that said, it is so incredible when you use those deeds and share them with the world. We’re all ambassadors in life – we each have a story to tell and share. So choose to live your life the way you are supposed to live its fullest.

One of the things I always tell people is "Choose Life". That is my mantra...the message on those infamous Wham! tees from the 80's. Remember Wham! - George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley? The Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go video? While most people just thought they were talking about pro-life (in relation to pregnancy/abortion), they were actually telling everyone to choose to live their lives in the best way they can. So choose life today. Choose to live!

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