Hey Everyone! Welcome to Episode 18 of the Darn Good Life Podcast. I am your host, Danielle Roberts. First, let me apologize for being slightly M-I-A. If I am being completely honest and transparent, this quarantine is bringing up a lot of unresolved trauma for me that I have been trying to process. So I’m doing my best to be patient with myself and let myself rest when my brain is telling me that I need it.
So, in today’s episode, I’m going to talk about some of the things coming up for me and how I’m working through what’s been a difficult year for us all.
Throughout the past nine months, since quarantine started, I’m learning a lot of new things about myself. And one of the main things I noticed is that I don’t think there’s ever been a point in my life where I’ve allowed myself to slow down enough to truly process major events that have made me who I am.
Anyone who knows me, knows I always have my hands full; that I’m always aspiring to better myself any which way that I can. It’s like an obsession for me. At one point, I wore my burnout like a badge of honor.
Don’t get me wrong – I am proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, and I look forward to all the things that I know I will achieve in the future.
But right now, I don’t have access to all of the things that I would typically, to distract myself from the emotions I feel and have been putting off my entire life.
So here I’ve been, in a quiet house over the past however many months, sitting with my thoughts. Coming to painful realizations about why I am the way that I am.
Letting all that I’ve suppressed over the years slowly flow out of me.
I love the relentless pursuit of discovering myself and finding answers to those questions. And sometimes that means dealing with the messy stuff too. And that’s one of the reasons I started this podcast – to deal with the messy middle of our lives. I’m in the thick of the messy.
I don’t know if it’s me or all millennials my age, but this year in particular and especially surrounding the circumstances of COVID and the upcoming election, I feel particularly lost when it comes to my career.
And I’ll tell you why in a moment, but first, I just want to say that I consider myself lucky. While our business took a big hit, I am lucky enough to still be working full-time. I know so many people whose livelihoods have been affected and are out of work, without health insurance. I am not ignorant to the fact that I am in a good situation, all things considered.
You’ve heard me talk a lot already about how, for the better part of a decade, I’ve worked in social media. And it’s hard for me to picture how I can morally and ethically continue working in a field that has led to the degradation of the fabric of our society.
It’s given a platform to people’s ugliest qualities. And there is now an army of keyboard warriors who think things like science and journalistic integrity, where evidence-based fact and truth, are somehow up for debate.
How can I, in good conscience, continue spending every single day on these platforms, supporting the technology that makes our country a laughing stock, that turns what should be a collective humanity into hyper-individualism?
For example, I’m expected to have a kickass strategy implemented, to take advantage of new social media features released across multiple networks multiple times a year to help increase business, all while watching civil unrest and the degradation of my rights and our democracy unfold in my personal news feeds.
It has taken a BEATING on my mental health, yet I can’t look away.
Talk about a disconnect: I’m more hyper-connected than ever and simultaneously out of touch with my internal power and sense of purpose. For the first time in my entire life, I have no idea where I am headed.
I don’t want to make a broad generalization here, but I think most millennials feel like we’re wandering aimlessly.
We’re held responsible and unfairly blamed for a lot. We’re called entitled. We bridge the gap between so many things that existed before us and what will come to fruition for the generations that follow.
We’ve been given the older world as a hand-me-down, yet the new one we’ve been fighting for seems ever-so-slightly out of reach.
We know where we come from, but we’re not quite sure where we’re going or how to get there.
You know, one of the things that always brings me genuine joy is travel. It keeps me invigorated. I love how it opens my mind, exposes me to new cultures, and reminds me just how big the world is. It gets me out of my bubble. I find it fascinating that there are people on the opposite side of the world, completely unaware that I even exist, living a life as complex as my own.
Obviously, this year, I haven’t been able to do much of that. But this time last year, Shea and I were in Amsterdam and Belgium.
Many of us use vacation to take a hiatus from life, right? Particularly our jobs. We have a prescribed set of days, often only two weeks, to look forward to so that we can enjoy life.
Those two weeks make up fewer than four percent of every year, and somehow we’re ok with spending the rest killing ourselves at work to find those small pockets of joy and rest.
We need that break from the burnout of our day-to-day, especially now. People are juggling working from home with childcare, sick loved ones, domestic disputes, and more.
When is the last time people my age had a chance to simply be, and figure out what they want independent of everything else? Probably never.
Much like that trip, our lives have been like having three minutes to transfer intercity direct trains, three times in between multiple countries without having ever been there before, without knowing the language to ask for directions, and without Wi-Fi to look it up.
You just make an educated guess and hope for the best, course-correcting along the way when you fuck up.
And quite honestly, this past year has made me angry, which isn’t an emotion I experience very often.
We’ve been groomed and programmed for a world that no longer works, and we’re not being given the proper resources to support, sustain, or fulfill us. For example, how many people are out of work right now because of coronavirus, now without access to health insurance in the event that they should need it given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic? That’s ass backwards.
It’s not “entitled” to ask for balance, time off, and the ability to completely disconnect. Especially if we have to spend one-third of our entire lives working. It’s so unhealthy to pride ourselves on how many hours we work per week, or how many days, weeks, or months it’s been since we took a vacation.
We don’t have to justify wanting to reinvent ourselves just because our parents stayed in the same job that they hated for 25 years.
It’s not “entitled” to simply want to enjoy life and to ask for the resources to do so. I’ve literally spent as long as I can remember pouring so much energy into my career at the expense of everything else. Needing to succeed, needing to please everybody, without ever questioning what I really want and who I really am deep down.
And if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we need to stop and slow down. And ask ourselves why.
So while this year has been tough, this is also our shot at a societal reset.
The things I learned and experienced early in childhood, led me to a lot of unhealthy behaviors and coping mechanisms that are hidden right underneath the surface of what I present to the rest of the world. It took a worldwide pandemic for me to slow down enough, to face those things. To start healing those things. To not want to feel like I am simply a house that harbors trauma.
It took 31 years to become this person, and I have a lot of unlearning to do.
To use another travel metaphor here, I’m in an airport, and I have a really long layover. I’m not even quite sure where I’m going, but I know I haven’t yet reached my final destination. Because the engine needs work.
Collectively, all of our engines need work. And for some people, that might mean taking everything apart and cleaning every piece before putting it back together again. For others, that might mean changing the oil a few more times, so we can make it a little further before trading ourselves in for a brand new, upgraded model.
For the first time, I’m questioning what I want my life to look like. I realized that I strive for a life that brings me peace – something I feel has been otherwise absent my entire life.
I won’t get into the reasons why today, but I just want you to know that if you’re feeling lost after this year, you aren’t alone. And I know we’re all feeling alone right now, but at least we’re together in that, too.
So today I hope you ask yourself things like:
- What do I really want, and what am I simply tolerating?
- Who am I really, independent of what everyone else thinks and expects of me?
- What does the best day, in an ideal version of my life look like?
Write down your answers.I’m gonna leave you the same way I leave you every episode: Don’t forget – life is short, so do your best to make it a darn good one. I appreciate you listening, and I hope you have a safe and fantastic day.