FIVE THôT columnist Rocky McGredy gives us his view on the world in weekly doses.
Shit. It’s almost 2013. Where the hell has the year gone? Assuming we make it through the potential apocalypse, we’ll be in January before we know it. It’s always at this time of year that I take a moment to step back and think deeply about my experiences of the year. More importantly, I try my best to remind myself how far I’ve come from where I was.
I truly believe that anybody can do well by reflecting on their past. I mean, this time last year I was in a battle with an awful landlord– trying desperately to get myself out of her grasp, and gain peace of mind by finding myself a new place that wasn’t patrolled by such an awful person. I had to make sacrifices, like the majority of my holiday budget. I lost countless hours of sleep. During that period, I found myself to be generally on edge, and dissatisfied with all aspects of my life. I was teetering on the edge of being homeless, broke, and miserable.
Looking back at that time in my life scares me. It makes me want to curl up in a ball, and keep myself safe from everything that may push its way into my bubble. I think that may be every person’s knee-jerk reaction to anything detrimental to our own stability. At the end of it all, we have that primal urge to self-preserve. That’s not the problem. It’s a common misconception that keeping yourself safe means not taking risks.
Thinking back to my lowest points keeps me on track, it keeps me motivated to move my life forward. Reflecting on the negative reminds me of the positive, and call me crazy, but I’m actually quite glad that I hit rock bottom. Now, the provided example of my past was absolutely not rock bottom, but it wasn’t long before that I was mourning the loss of my sister, dropping out of college, moving home, and taking time off of work. I was faced with an existential crisis.
At that pivotal point in my life, I had literally nothing ahead of me. I had the opportunity to remove any aspect of my life that wasn’t making me happy, and so I did. You see, when you’ve got nothing to gain, you’ve got nothing to lose either. My life was literally a blank slate yet again, but at the same time it was a very negative experience. I think we all have those times where we feel worthless, and all we want is the chance to prove how much worth we actually have. We often make the mistake of getting desperate in these times, and latching onto the closest thing that will help us build some self-esteem.
It’s important that we get rejected. It’s important that we get pushed into the ground. It’s important to hit rock bottom and do nothing, but most of all it’s important to know what’s beyond our control and what isn’t. There is nothing that could have helped me back then, except for myself. The only thing that truly moved me forward was getting myself back out there. That low point helped me learn the difference between telling people that I want to try (when I really didn’t) vs. actually trying.
It took a while, but having the ability to do nothing and be miserable for a while reminded me what it was like to be motivated and passionate toward something I truly care about. Like I said before, I had nothing to gain and nothing to lose. So, why not take calculated risks on things that I actually give a shit about? I reached a point where I realized that my image was controlled entirely by me. People thought I was worthless because I felt worthless, and I never actually took a chance at anything (I just told myself I did).
The important thing to realize is that there is no such thing as stability without hard work. The world isn’t going to cut you any breaks, but you can. At any moment in time, things can come crashing down around you and you’ll find yourself at square one. It’s hard to swallow, but in those times it’s not about what you had. It’s about what you have, and what you’re going to do to show the world you have it. We all hit rock bottom multiple times in life, we simply can not stop that from happening. What we can do is use those times to get to know ourselves better.