Monday, May 19, 2014

What's Your Mess?

I'm reading a new book right now - "Everybody's Got Something," by Robin Roberts.  I'm only a few chapters in, but it's very interesting and if you're looking for a motivational, inspirational book, I recommend this one!

One line (so far) really jumped out at me from the book.  "Make your mess your message."  Robin writes that that was something her mother used to say.

I think that's a profound way to live one's life.  We all have "something."  Whether we were abused as children (or adults), lived through foster homes, survived growing up with an alcoholic parent, had a spouse that left us, find out that we can't bear children... whatever that "something" is, we all have it.  And instead of brushing it aside or trying to push it down or ignore it, why not make it your message?

I'm sure you've seen people whose lives are changed and shaped by a certain circumstance in their life.  For example, parents whose child has a rare illness or disease make it their life's purpose and mission to raise money to try to find a cure.  If they hadn't had the child they had, they likely never would have jumped into that cause.

I remember a convocation I attended when I was teaching.  It was a guy who was born without arms or legs.  That was his "mess" in his life.  But he made it his message by touring the country and showing young people that they can do whatever they want in their lives, no matter what perceived limitations they may have to deal with along the way.

Your "mess" may not be as extensive as being born without limbs, or surviving an abusive childhood.  Mine isn't.  Mine, I believe, is that I've held such a wide variety of jobs in a variety of industries.  More than anything else, it seems that's what makes me different from other people I meet.

When I meet someone new and we're having that common conversation of what you do for a living, my story inevitably includes a variety of things, or a comment about how "now" I am ______, but I "used to" ______.  I've never had a simple answer to "What do you do?"

And when I tell people my story, briefly in that early conversation, the typical response I get is one of surprise or "Oh, I could never do that."  Meaning, they could never switch jobs like I have, or switch career fields.  Even if they're unhappy in what they're currently doing or have done in the past.

It's baffling to me, and I suspect some of my readers are more like me in that you DO understand how to "jump ship" and try something totally new and different.  In fact, I know some of you have done just that.  But the vast majority of the people in the world don't seem to be like that.  They seem to get into a career or go down a job path, and stick with it.  Through good times and bad.  They just stay on the path they're on, or perhaps shift it very slightly.

Anyway... when I read that line in Robin Roberts' book, that's what came to mind for me.  My "mess" is never having settled into a steady career path, and always feeling the desire and urge to do something new and different.  Ever since college, I envied people who seemed to really fit into their chosen career path.  They loved it.  They were passionate about it.  They got into it and stuck with it for the long-term.  I've never felt that way.  I've had many "false starts."  Many careers and jobs along the way that I thought were "my path."  Only to have that familiar urge to move on return a few weeks, months, or years later.

I'm realizing now that that is probably my message.  My message that if I can do it, you can too.  That you don't have to feel stuck in any job or career path.  If you want to do something different, you can!  That was part of my impetus when I started this blog.  Because I wanted to share that message with as many people as I could.

I'm still working on how to hone it even more, and how to get my message out to even more people.  But life is a work in progress.  For everyone.

What's your "mess?"  What is it about your life that is unique or challenging?  The challenges are here to teach us something.  And maybe part of what they're here to teach us is that it's our job to teach others, and help others who are going through the same thing.  

So I'll ask again... What's your "mess?"  How can you make it your message?

In peace and love,


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