The Chicken or the Egg?

I’ve been bad. Which anyone reading this already knows because it has been more than a month since my last post. That won’t happen again, I promise. I’ve also been really, really good 🙂 More on that to follow in a separate post…

For anyone who missed it, I already outlined my plan in my first post. As it turns out, the whole “Unsettling” my life business has been a little more difficult to roll out than it initially seemed.

The hang up lies with the first step of the plan: to identify areas in my life where I am settling and figure out how to “Unsettle” them. While this sounded simple, it quickly became apparent that I had a classic case of “What Came First-The Chicken or The Egg?” on my hands. In order to identify where in my life I am settling, I would first need to identify what I really want out of life. I could then compare my real life with the “Unsettled” life I seek.

So what do I want? After much deliberation, I have identified some key items in no particular order:

  1. Travel: I have always wanted to travel extensively and, for someone who spends a ton of time thinking about it, reading about it, watching shows about it, and (anyone who knows me can vouch for this one) TALKING about it, I have done a pitiful amount of traveling in my lifetime.
  2. Ownership in My Own Life: Coasting in life; taking jobs and promotions just because they are handed to you, or accepting living circumstances that are less than ideal because, hey, that’s just how it happened is what causes settling. Unsettling means taking ownership of one’s true desires, doggedly pursuing them and taking ownership of the shortcomings in one’s life. In looking at my “Settled” life, so much of what I am settling on is just the safe alternative to what I really wanted but was too afraid to reach for. It’s my life. Time to own it.
  3. Freedom from Responsibility: This one may throw some people, but it’s not what you may be thinking. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always been “the responsible” one. Looking out for younger brothers, stepping up to the plate during both of my parent’s life-threatening health crises, quickly advancing at every job I’ve ever had because I just love me a heaping portion o’ responsibility…I had to give things up at certain points along the road. I did it for the greater good, but somewhere along the line, I seem to have equated “responsible” behavior with automatically turning down the more desirable of two options. That’s not responsible, that’s martyrdom. I am finally at a point in my life where I do not have life-threatening illnesses looming and I see my martyrdom for what it was-an excuse. Time to start living!
  4. Help People: I know I just said that I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility caring for others and I want to enjoy some freedom from that for awhile BUT there is something refreshing about stepping into someone else’s life, even if just for a moment, an hour, an afternoon, and making a difference. It’s not a matter of taking responsibility for that other person or their circumstances, but rather, acknowledging their importance. Helping someone in need is a pleasure, not an obligation, to me.
  5. Let Go of Perfect: While I settle in almost every aspect of my life, I hold myself to some pretty rigid and hard-to-live-up-to standards. I have had this deep seeded need to perfect myself before pursuing what I really want out of life. Since perfect doesn’t exist, the pursuit has never begun either. I have only become more critical on myself and less fulfilled in my never ending pursuit of perfection. This may be the one area of my life on which I need to settle for the greater “Unsettling” good.

So there it is in a nutshell-what I want. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it has given me a reasonable reference point from which to identify my areas of settling. More on that, and my huge step in unsettling, to follow soon….

The Chicken or the Egg?

Gonna Be A Badass Rock Climber

I went rock climbing today for the first time and for 3 hours, it completely took me out of the extremely stressful week that I’ve been having. And it was awesome.  And to think I almost didn’t go….

A relatively new client of mine works at the center where I went. We were having lunch the other day and she offered to take me climbing anytime I wanted to check out the center. In my line of work, it is natural for people to talk about what we could do, or should do, especially when they are getting a free lunch from you or trying to build a business relationship, and while the intention may be there at the time the offer is extended, often neither party follows up.

This lunch, and her offer, felt different. I actually felt a really genuine connection as we talked about our shared interests in snowboarding, 14ers and microbrews, and my interest in trying out rock climbing-something which she has a lot of experience at. I decided to shoot her a note, business related, but with a ‘PS: I’d love to take you up on your offer to try out some climbing.’

She jumped right on it and threw out some days and times that we could try it out. We scheduled a time for last week. I looked forward to our climbing session all week but then on the day that it was supposed to happen she sent me an email saying she had strep throat and asking if we could postpone. I was bummed, and took this as my cue that maybe her offer was just another should do. I sent her an email back saying that I hoped she felt better and to let me know when worked for her and, to my surprise, she came right back with her availability over the following week and asked me when I could come.

Tonight was the night we settled upon. She actually sent me a note earlier in the week to confirm, then called this afternoon to double check. For some reason a small part of me wanted to make an excuse, to bail on the plans I had been looking forward to now for several weeks. What if I make a fool of myself? What if I am not cool enough, not chill enough, not good enough to hang out with this individual who is into some pretty extreme and, in my opinion, cool stuff? Despite these doubts, I realized that to bail on our plans would be to accept these thoughts as truth, even though her eagerness to meet up, and my desire to try rock climbing all indicated exactly the opposite. It would be to settle for these insecurities as truth. I locked in the plans and I am SO glad I did.

First of all, this place is amazing. It is ENORMOUS and slightly intimidating when you first walk in. My climbing buddy was waiting for me at the front desk when I arrived. There she stood, decked out in a climbing harness and what can only be described as a “cool climbing outfit” by a nerd like me. She sent me over to sign a digital waiver before getting signed in. The waiver was long…and I didn’t any of read it. At this point, I am starting to get really excited. I finish signing my life away and she gets me set up with climbing shoes and a harness, which I manage to get on relatively smoothly. Then we walk into the climbing center and BAM. There are climbers everywhere moving up 45 foot walls of colored holds. I’ve got butterflies which I realize are all actually excitement. I wanna spider monkey up some walls like, pronto.

She explains the scaling system and starts me on a 5.9, which, the internet informs me, is right on the upper end of not sucking. She must have some confidence in me. Now…she was either being really nice to me, or she was legitimately impressed. I sure felt like I got to the top pretty quick and she commented on both my quick ascent and my “natural belaying skills” as I threw myself back and air walked down the wall I had just owned. We moved on to do a couple more rope climbs and she seemed genuinely impressed by my speed up the wall and my sick overhang skills (yes, I climbed up a 5.9 overhang!).

I could not belay her as I haven’t gone through the course to safely belay, so after 4 rope climbs, we moved on to do some bouldering. I. AM. IN. LOVE. WITH. BOULDERING. It is done without ropes or harnesses because you don’t go as high and if you fall, you fall onto a floor that feels like a bed of marshmallows. It is also rated differently, starting with INTRO and moving to a “V” rating system, which gets progressively harder as the numbers go up.

The goal with both rope climbing and bouldering is to follow a color coded path and avoid using holds from any other paths. I started out on an INTRO, and, after rocking its world, moved on to a couple V1’s. The difference was noticeable but I made it. V2’s are significantly harder and after plummeting off of a purple V2 three or four times, I realized that I may not be summiting my boulder on this occasion. I messed around on a couple of routes aka “problems” and got some coaching from my climbing mentor for the evening.

She moved up some pretty crazy problems like a beast. She would climb something, making it look so easy and attributing it to the “positive holds” or an easy configuration, which I would then attempt and fail miserably at. But failing felt good because I was there, and I was trying it and even though it was my first time doing this, I would not just settle on the fact that I couldn’t do something. I tried each problem, no matter how unlikely I was to finish it and with each attempt, I got a little better.

Climbing was friggin rad. Sitting around talking and watching other climbers, analyzing their routes and trying to replicate their successes in my own climb was awesome, and transitioning someone from the status of client, to acquaintance, to new friend was probably the best part of the whole night.

Tonight left me with some new goals for unsettling my life:
-Take people up on their invitations. My feelings that they are being disingenuous may actually derive from my own feelings of insecurity and if they are disingenuous, then that’s on them.
-Join an Intro to Climbing class at the awesome climbing center I went to. I will get certified to belay, may meet some people with similar interests and skill sets, and will get the bonus of 15 free climb days once I’ve signed up.
-Become a badass rock climber.

I could have sat at home tonight, but instead I have a potential new hobby, a new friend, and a new blog post. I would count that as a successful attempt at unsettling my life.

Gonna Be A Badass Rock Climber

My Plan To Unsettle (And Why I Need One)

You’re 20’s. Who knew they would be so hard?

I fully remember being prepped for the onslaught of angst-y teenage years well in advance. Almost every conversation I overheard my mom having about me between the age of 11 and 13 included some form of ‘No hormonal teen yet, but it’s coming’ and I seem to remember a 6th grade teacher likening footage of two bull elk rutting to pubescent boys, driven insane by adolescence…In comparison, I actually found my teenage years to be pretty tame and free of any mating disputes that would require mortal combat.

I do NOT, however, remember being briefed on the feelings of worry, aimlessness and settling that would accompany my first years out of college. Feeling that I have settled for a job that I am good at and pays well, but which I will never be passionate about. Feeling the need to escape said job before it is too late, all the while feeling the desensitization that comes with a steady paycheck (really wanted to work in the phrase ‘suckling at the corporate teat’ somewhere in here, but couldn’t find a place to put it without sounding like a d-bag…oh that’s right, slap it between a nice set of parenthesis J). Feeling that I have settled for relationships that are one-sided energy pits. Feeling, for the first time, that time is moving by too quickly for me to accomplish all of the things I would like and feeling that it may already be too late to find a path that will be more fulfilling.

You get the picture; lots of feelings in your 20’s-most of them pertaining to settling for something less than what you really want. My only consolation is that- based on the comments of friends and a number of articles, books and news stories I have seen and heard lately- I am not alone in these feelings of settling or the desire to Unsettle my life.

So…what do I plan to do about all of these aforementioned feelings and why the heck am I going to blog about it?

What I Plan To Do:

  • I aim to identify the areas in my life in which I am settling and figure out how I can “Unsettle”
    these things.
  • I aim to identify the areas in my life where I am already “Unsettled” and learn to appreciate them more-because, in all actuality, I have had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things which are anything BUT settling and which I hope you’ll enjoy reading about.
  • Once I have figured out what I am settling on, what I am not settling on, and the course of action I need to take, I aim to Unsettle them.

Why Am I Writing About It:

  • I got A’s on just about every paper I ever wrote in college. I also generally wrote those papers the night before they were due. I do nothing if I am not held accountable to a deadline, and if I know I have a blog post to come up with, I will have a built in deadline.
  • I am looking for your feedback on ways to improve my life, ways to enjoy my 20’s more, and ways to appreciate my experiences more.
  • I want you to “Unsettle” with me. I want to hear about where others feel they might be settling and how they go about Unsettling their own lives.

Thanks for taking the time to read my first post and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on settling and how you plan to go about Unsettling, soon!


My Plan To Unsettle (And Why I Need One)