I’ve recently discovered that there is a huge difference between surviving and thriving. It’s the difference between staying alive and feeling alive. And for me, as I work hard to change the status quo of my own life, it’s marked my official ascent up and out of depression. Allow me to explain...
Surviving is when you feel like your life is out of your hands. Situations keep happening TO you. Things keep coming up that you need to deal with. You feel like you're rushing from one to do list to another. Like your goals are always just a few inches out of your grasp. Like things keep getting in the way of what you really want to do.
Life seems to just dish out whatever it feels like, regardless of your plans, thoughts, or hopes. You’ve lost control. You feel like you’re spiraling and struggling just to make it through the day. Everything sucks and the suckage starts to snowball.
It’s easy to feel like you’re caught in a vicious survival cycle. Responsibilities add up. Obligations pile on. It makes complete sense! I mean, there aren’t nearly enough hours in the day to be excelling in all facets of life. It’s not easy to work a full time job, have a social life, balance a love-life, keep a functioning home, and take care of ourselves too. Something’s gotta give at some point.
It’s like when my dog, Kodi, tries to sit in my lap. (He’s a one-year-old one-hundred-pound chocolate lab puppy.) Whenever I sit down on the floor, he’ll barrel his way over and put his upper body and front paws in my lap, try to get the second half of his body in, have the first half of his body spill out, get up, circle around, and try again. It’s like he can’t figure out why all of him doesn’t fit anymore.
And maybe that’s just it, friends. Maybe as we get older we need to recognize that it won’t ALL fit anymore. Maybe that’s the ticket to thriving.
For me, moving from “survive” to “thrive” has consisted of making the conscious choice to surround myself with exactly what I need and nothing else. I’ve been peeling off the excess and trying to reintroduce the word NO back into my vocabulary. I’m forcing myself to make time for things I want to do.
My priorities and my goals in life are changing. And it’s ridiculous to think that it won’t effect other parts of my life. If I want to make space in my life for a booming business, better self-care, and new relationships… I have to come to terms with the fact that I only have so much space in my lap.
I spent too long trying to accommodate things I didn’t need to be worrying about and I felt like I was a helpless victim in my own life. I would say yes to things that I thought I had to say yes to and no to the things that I really wanted to do. Opportunities were passing me by and I was getting so frustrated with my never ending lists of obligations. I felt like I was missing out on or half-assing everything I really wanted to do.
One day I woke up and realized that I was extremely unhappy. This was supposed to be the prime of my life! I decided to take back the reigns and create the life I want. I decided that change starts right here, right now. I was done simply surviving.
I started small. Saying no to hosting people at my apartment all the time. Saying no to social engagements because I had to stay in and work. Saying no to going back home to my parents’ house all the time. Saying no to people taking advantage of my generosity. Saying no to people who just needed to hear the word NO and understand that I really meant it.
At first it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Everyone knows that I love to give and when I give, I give wholeheartedly. I was scared of what people would think of me. I was terrified that people would call me bitchy, or ungrateful, or selfish, or whatever. And then I remembered - I don’t really care what those people have to say. The people who matter, the people who I want/need to keep, will always understand if I need to put myself first for a little.
We’re all a little selfish sometimes, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s necessary if we are to lead fulfilling and happy lives. We ourselves must make the decision to chase our dreams until they come to fruition. That’s not something that anybody else can do for us. It’s not something that anyone would do either, because (#realtalk): everyone else is being selfish when it comes to living their lives.
So today I’d like to leave you with this critical reminder: Nobody knows the size of your lap better than you do. I encourage you all to practice saying no. Take a look at how much you’re trying to jam into your life, restructure your priorities, and get rid of the useless baggage. Take a moment to really examine the areas of your life that are getting the most attention from you now and think about whether those situations/things/relationships/goals/whatever are really worth all that focus. Ask yourself…. Am I thriving, or just surviving?
Alive and well, xx Nikbear
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