The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Archive for the tag “Unstuck”

Getting Unstuck–THEM

One of the biggest obstacles to getting unstuck, in my experience, is THEM.  You know THEM–well-meaning friends, family, and all-purpose lovers of the status quo.  The ones who think you are crazy when you tell them you are selling yet another house and packing up to move yet again (maybe to a city where you’ve already lived three times) yes–even though you’ve only lived there two years, yes–even though you have a good job, yes–even though you’ll lose money on that house.  Or going back to school…again.  Or (surprise!) having a baby at 42.  Ok, that last one was one of my better moves.

It’s the side-eye you get from your mother when you say you are thinking of just throwing out all but 33 items in your wardrobe.  It’s that judgmental over-the-glasses look you get from your son’s teacher when you say you are thinking of home schooling him.  It’s the wary look your spouse gives you when you say you think you might give up your lucrative career to become a popsicle-stick artist.

From  Courtney Carver's blog "Be More With Less."  Check it out.  It's awesome.

From Courtney Carver’s blog “Be More With Less.” Check it out. It’s awesome.

It’s hard to battle THEM because most of the fight is in your head.  I attribute a great deal to my husband’s single raised eyebrow.  That eyebrow speaks volumes to me.  In fact, it talks to me all night.  It argues with me all day.  And by the end of the day, I’m furious with the eyebrow.  Or I’m resigned to believe the eyebrow is right.  But 9 times out of 10, when I ask my husband for eyebrow-interpretation, he attributes some innocuous meaning for the raised eyebrow like “Wow, I didn’t even know you were a dog person.”  Or he has no idea what I’m talking about.  Or he confesses that he didn’t hear my question because he was wondering why people keep eating orange cheddar cheese when by now, everyone knows that’s not natural.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize.  Although opinions are like ***holes (everyone has one), people aren’t really that concerned with what I do.  Other people don’t spend vast amounts of their time thinking about me.  What I do with my life doesn’t directly impact them (unless they happen to be married to me or my son).  So while I can listen to their input, their collective input has to be given it’s proper weight–0.000427% of my decision-making factors.

GapingVoid.com @gapingvoid always knows just what to say

GapingVoid.com @gapingvoid always knows just what to say

And just like that, THEM (THEY?) don’t have the power they used to have over me.  Don’t give people more power than they have earned.  Don’t let them take up valuable real estate in your head.  THEM are only a barrier to getting unstuck if you let them be.

Carpe THEM!  I mean, carpe us…I mean carpe YOU!

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Getting Unstuck: Sacrifice

I feel sure that there are a number of people out there who think I’m bat-shit crazy.  I’ve moved 17 times in my adult life (six times to where I live now – I kept at it until it stuck).  I’ve changed jobs 16 times in 26 years, often into a completely different career (for example, caterer to lawyer).  I have four college degrees.

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When I got engaged, I told my would-be husband that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to stick it out for the long haul because I didn’t seem to stick with anything for the long haul.  I’m happy to say we’ve been married for 15 years…in no small part, perhaps, because he’s been willing to move six times (and sometimes the moves were even his idea!).

Now maybe I am bat-shit crazy, but here’s the thing: I don’t just tolerate change.  I crave it.  I thrive in chaos.  I loathe the status quo.

So when someone tells me they really want to change ____ (job, career, relationship, location, etc., etc.), I am baffled when the next words out of their mouths are…”But I can’t.”  Sure you can.  You always can.  The thing is, change takes sacrifice.  It’s not so much that people “can’t.”  It’s that they aren’t willing to make the sacrifice.

I can’t even tell you how much I’ve sacrificed to make all the changes I’ve made over the years.  But I’ll try.  Here are just some of the sacrifices I’ve made:

  • Damaged or lost relationships with friends or colleagues.  So many I’ve probably forgotten some people altogether.
  • Money (sometimes significant amounts) on the sale of houses and condos in real estate transactions (we’ve bought and sold six dwellings in 15 years).
  • Opportunities to be near and with family, sometimes during major life events and crises.
  • Stuff–mountains of stuff.  Stuff I’ve replaced and had to get rid of again. Stuff I bought, was gifted, was given.  Stuff I loved and hated and outgrew.
  • Space.  I’ve lived in a 3500 sq. ft. house.  I’ve lived in a 1296 sq. ft. condo.  I’ve lived in several in between. It’s all the same to me.  You know, except for the amount of stuff I can fit in it.
  • Career trajectory, upward mobility.  I could probably be a Chief Purser, law firm partner, Full Professor by now if I’d stuck with one of those things.
  • A passel of kids (but we did manage to acquire one along the way.  And by “acquire” I mean adopt, not snatch…just for the record).
We completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen in this condo...and lived there two years.  Next!

We completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen in this condo…and lived there two years. Next!

Of all the things I’ve sacrificed over the years, do you know what I’ve grieved the most? (And I’d like to say it was relationships because that would make me sound all deep and stuff but…) A chicken basket.  A white basket with a small ceramic chicken glued on it.  It was given away in one of many “Brutal Purges” that resulted in hundreds of “off to the local charity” trips.  I’ve grieved it because my mother-in-law talked a store clerk out of it when it wasn’t even for sale and gave it to us as part of a wedding gift.  She cracked me up, my mother-in-law.

I’ve known people who have made the sacrifice, decided it wasn’t worth it, and went back to their old job/relationship/town/whatever.  I applaud that.  Some sacrifices aren’t worth it.  I wouldn’t give up my husband and son for anything.  I wouldn’t give up chocolate for anything. (As aforementioned, I’m neither deep nor sentimental as evidenced again by giving my husband, son, and chocolate the same priority level. But it’s chocolate, for heaven’s sake.)

But those who say they want to change, but can’t?  I’m not buying it.  It’s just a matter of whether value of change > sacrifice.

Carpe sacrifice!

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