What If There’s No Other Shoe to Drop?
A big, huge shoe dropped out of the sky two and a half years ago. I saw it coming. I knew it was hanging above my head by a frayed piece of string for over a year. It was only a matter of time before the string gave way and this shoe with the word “divorce” written on it landed on my head.
I have lived the last few years under the assumption that the shoe that fell on my head had a partner. It loomed over me and would wait for just the right moment when I felt like everything was okay before starting its plummet.
This, of course, is no way to live your life. It sucks all the joy out of the good moments of your life and robs you of the ability to enjoy them. When we live like this, we became guarded and brace ourselves for what we feel in our hearts will eventually happen. That joy will be crushed.
I’ve spent a lot of time clearing dust, making new paths, and celebrating anything and everything that was worth getting even remotely excited about. Sometimes, that worked for me.
There were small things like having a wonderful conversation sitting next to a stranger while eating dinner. There were big things like paying off every cent of debt I had.
Sometimes, it didn’t work for me. A romantic interest that sparked a shred of life in me blew up like a fireball. The car I just paid off had three major issues shortly after that last payment was made. Still, I never felt despair. I’ve trained for this.
It occurred to me: what if there was no other shoe? What if the shoe already dropped and completely missed me? What if I was too busy wondering when it was going to fall that I missed the fact that it wasn't over me any more? What if there never was another shoe?
I’ve never been a hand-wringer. Worst-case scenarios are not something on which I dwell. I have, however, carried a low key fear of “what-if.” It’s that small amount of anxiety that is just enough to jolt you up in the middle of the night but not enough to keep you up for hours.
As a result, I’ve been a “low risk, low return” person. I put out there as little as I needed to or could and resigned myself that I should be grateful for whatever return on my measly investment came along. My expectations were just as low.
Eventually, the inevitable happened: I wanted more. I deserved more. I am demanding more. The jump that needed to be made was clear. Invest more. When you put more skin in the game, you want more back. Enter “high risk, high return.”
I may not be able to control whether there’s a shoe above my head but I can control how the idea of it affects me. When this happens, it takes power away from the shoe and gives the power to me instead.
It’s a chosen mindset. I can choose to let the fear of some transparent object that may not even be real guide my decision making or I can choose to do what I feel could be immensely good for me, knowing that joy could be fleeting.
Increased risk increases opportunity. Opportunity can bring loss but it can bring tremendous joy. Why would I not choose joy? It all goes back to fear.
Fear is the Devil’s playground. Fear is what keeps us in our lane and keeps us from moving forward living our life on our own accord.
This is my life. It belongs to me. Fear can’t have it.
I like looking up and seeing a clear sky above me. What I like even better is knowing that I moved everything out of the way on my own to be able to see it. We owe this to ourselves and we owe it to the people we take risks for.
Let’s stop telling ourselves that the job we want to go out for is beyond our reach. The person we admire would never want to mentor us. The piece of land we’ve dreamed of isn’t something we should make an offer on.
Instead, let’s use some common sense and our hearts instead of fear. If you need me, I’ll be over here with a glass of wine entertaining the best-case scenario.
*I don’t know when this optimism showed up, but I hope it stays a while:
What It Took For Me to Be a Happy Single Person
I don’t mean content. I don’t mean not frustrated. I mean happy.