Are you asking yourself the real questions?

RuPaul is right.

The struggle is real, and it will continue to be real.

So, I’ve started asking myself the following questions;

“What pain are you willing to sustain? What do you want to struggle for?”

These are questions created and addressed by Mark Manson.

This man actually asks the real questions and some of these questions are really hard.

The basics behind this is we often share what it is that we want.

The things we share are often about having the perfect life, but it doesn’t address what we are willing to do to get it.

You can read more about this in the blog post here, or buy his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck here.

Recently, I’ve come into a transitional phase in my life.

One where I have to address “Who am I and what do I value?”

So far I’ve been answering this question based on past experiences and expectations outside of myself.

The truth is that some of the things I want to do might seem strange.

I recently got a job as a remote customer service person.

Basically like a call center for your home.

I’m excited for this because I’ll still get to help people, even though a lot of them may be angry.

Teaching middle school, heck, even kindergarten has prepared me for this.

Now, before you get all judge-y about call center jobs let me tell you a story.

It’s about three masons, putting a building together.

All three of them are doing the same job.

The first one had the mindset of, “I’m just laying some bricks.”

The second one said, “I’m making a building.”

The third one said, “I’m building a house of God.”

The difference between the three is this; the first one saw what he was doing as a job, the second one a career, and the third one saw what he was doing as his passion.

I want to reiterate that they were all doing the same type of work.

It’s about the mindset behind the work.

Angela Duckworth covers this in the chapter on Passion from her book Grit.

When we talk about passion, we see it as something outside of what we are already doing and it comes from a place of lack.

The place we should start with is what we already do, what we like to do, and how we can use those things we like to do.

Then, we can channel them into what we already do or find other places that those things would be helpful.

So when it comes to doing this new job…

The thing that most excites me is the combination of these things while helping people understand the fine print.

If you know me, you know I read EVERYTHING.

I get particular joy reading through health plans.

If someone is struggling with anything that requires combing through the fine print, I’ll go through and help them figure out if they are justified and what they can do.

So the pain I’m willing to sustain is to help people resolve issues with medical insurance jargon.

Do I think I will be building houses of God doing this? That remains to be seen.

I’m so pumped about this, though.

That may sound strange to some people, but I’m no longer basing my life on the opinions of others.

That’s how I lost myself in the first place, and now have to struggle with questions like this in my 30’s.

Of course I’m learning that doesn’t even matter because no matter what our age we are transitioning in one way or another.

What is it that you are willing to struggle for?

Until next time.

Sincerely,

Angela

(Note: If this spoke to you or you know someone else who needs to hear that they should just let themselves enjoy the things they actually want to struggle through, give it a share. I am also not getting anything out of sharing Mark’s stuff. I just think he is asking the real questions and putting the unfiltered truth into the universe. Seriously, read his stuff. The same goes for Angela Duckworth.)

How I uncovered a deep dark secret about my relationship with my violin

In doing thought work around finding my life’s one true purpose or guiding principle, I actually combined a couple of things.

First I did an exercise by Warren Buffet which included writing out 25 career goals, doing some soul searching to pick the top 5 most important, and finally erasing the other 20 because they took away focus from the 5.

The next step I did was Angela Duckworth’s addition to Warren Buffet’s exercise, which was to what extent do these things have in common.

They each were interconnected with each other, and all roads I believe led back to leadership and advocacy for me, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.

I’m here to talk about one specific goal: being the best at playing violin/viola.

I dug a little deeper, asking myself “why?” on repeat like a toddler.

Why do I want to be the best violinist/violist?

So I can teach it better, be sought out for gigs, and so people would take me more seriously.

“So people would take me more seriously.”

This one stung, so I asked myself “Why is that important to me?”

“Because I want to erase my sins of the past. So I can stop being that example of what not to do when professors and conductors talk about me, so I can stop blaming others for my choices, so that I can feel like I belong.”

Ouch. I had to start addressing these things like I’m my own therapist.

It led down the rabbit hole farther until I came to the following conclusion.

I place value on being the best at violin so as to erase all doubt of my ability, and the metric I measure it by is being so good it erases my mistakes and atones for hurting other people and myself with past behavior.

But it goes deeper.

My worthiness to play my instrument is based on how others perceive me. My self-worth is deeply rooted into what people think of my playing ability, especially those who have seen me at my worst.

The result of getting to this realization was that feeling of every lesson I walked into unprepared, every performance that I half assed practiced for, every glare I got from a conductor or my peers in college, every time I became more and more afraid to open my case and thus because more and more afraid of playing in front of people.

That tension in my neck, that lump in my throat, that tightness in my chest, clenching of the jaw, and a dread that goes deep down into my stomach hit me like a bus.

That desire to want to curl up and disappear.

I shed no tears, but I got a little misty.

I immediately remembered my embodied resources and breathing techniques to create space in my body and realize this is a survival response to all that grief and shame I held onto all this time in my body.

I didn’t think that my experience growing up learning to play my instrument would trigger a full on trauma response, but it did.

It’s a whole new world when you become aware of what you did and who you had to be to survive it.

As much as it sucked to go this deep, face that demon, and feel those feelings, it oddly felt freeing.

And it also will give me the opportunity to heal, and play, and get better for myself.

To let go and finally be intrinsically motivated to love my music, and my instrument. (Hopefully)

I hope that writing about this experience is helpful to you with something you are passionate about, but you basically got wrecked by your lates teens early 20’s or even if you are going through it now.

Definitely share it with someone you know who may be going through the same thing.

Until next time.

Classically yours,

Angela