They’re going to sling it in your direction. They’re going to spit it in your face. Hey, they might even pour it in a glass and serve it to you, expecting that you’ll chase it down with a enthusiasm, and vigor and grace. But, whether or not you swallow that poison is your decision. No one can force you to drink it. No one can force you to subscribe to their limiting beliefs.
Which is also to say that no one’s got the power to convince you to give up on your dream.
It doesn’t matter if you attended an Ivy League school, or were born into a life of wealth and privilege, or were blessed with the personality of God and the effortless wit of Jim Carrey. You might have the most enviable eyebrows and jawline within a 100-mile radius, and a face and body more flawless than Leonardo Da Vinci could have ever painted. Still, someone somewhere is going to serve you up a poisonous concoction. And they’ll expect you to swallow it with gusto and heart because, the majority of the time, it’ll be handed to you on a platter of good intentions. It might even land in your lap in a shiny, dazzling package.
But your job? It’s to see it for what it is: insecurity and toxicity. Their’s, not your’s.
Comparison? You’re going to be subjected to it. You’re going to be “sized up” and scrutinized and discounted and dissected. It’s inevitable that you’re going to be criticized. But you know what? So what.
Unpleasant statistics? You’ll be reminded of those, too. Competitors? Yeah, you’ll hear about all of those who came before you and sought to achieve a similar goal, but failed miserably. Of those who choked on the venom of failure. Of those who nearly killed themselves trying to stay in the race. You’ll probably be painted nightmarish scenarios so terrifying, it’ll tempt you to give up before ever stepping foot into the game.
Another person’s projections are exactly that; they’re not about you…
People tend to warn others about their own harrowing failures and legends of catastrophic missteps far more than they shout evidence of championship and triumph. But, if they do, it’s got nothing to do with you. You’re under no obligation to sip on that cocktail. I beg of you; don’t drink the poison.
Upon returning from my honeymoon several years ago, I met a recent divorcee at a department store. She complimented me on my ring, which then spawned a trail of questions about my newly-married life. Immediately, I could smell her skepticism. Pity, even. Her cynicism was ripe and she was ready to serve it to me.
As I answered her questions (from my obvious state of newlywed euphoria), suddenly, she cut me off. lowered her eyes and, with a condescending whisper, muttered, “Oh honey, I can tell you’re a smart girl. You do realize it’s not always going to be that way, don’t you?”
I found myself silenced–overruled by her angst-fueled rants about marriage. She vomited every bitter feeling she had been hoarding about her ex-husband…onto me. Onto my joy, my hope, my gladness.
For a moment, I feared she was one second away from casting spells, primed to hex my dopamine-charged bliss. I mean, this was hysterical; I’d only met this lady ten minutes prior, yet she’d seized the opportunity to spew venom onto an innocent stranger.
After a few torturous minutes, I politely thanked her for her input, expressed condolences about her situation, and told her I was uninterested in hearing more. I had compassion, sure, but, no–I wasn’t willing to sip on her poison.
So don’t heed every warning you receive…
The problem with “reality checks” is that, in the majority of cases, the advisor lacks pertinent pieces of information about the listener’s situation. They seldom have enough details to offer advice that’s remotely relevant to their life.
Like, say, the new divorcee might’ve had a nightmare of a marriage, but she knew nothing about my history, my husband or our compatibility. And, while she might’ve believed she was being helpful–that she was saving me in some way, she wasn’t. She was inundating me with her poison. She was shading my sun, diluting my perspective. Planting dark seeds in my otherwise flourishing garden. And she made me feel icky and uncomfortable with every storm cloud she called upon.
So, listen, you’re going to be advised to “manage your expectations” and “not get your hopes up.” You’re going to be told to “hope for the best” as though everyone is either a victim or victor of circumstance. And, yes, advantages and privileges are real. The vagaries and whims of life are real. Acts of god are real. But I don’t think achieving success has anything to do with hope.
In an interview, Jim Carrey once said, “Hope is a beggar.” Those words nearly made me put my hand over my heart and sign.
I hope the sun shines tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t rain during my dreamy vacation to Turks and Caicos. I hope there aren’t any fatal wrecks in my city today. I hope my long-haired dachshund, Lucy, lives to gnaw on bones and patter around at my feet until she’s 20 years old. But in regard to my ability to live an enriching and successful life? That’s got nothing to do with hope. That’s a decision only I can make. Hope is hardly a factor.
I’ve seen dark and disorienting days in my life. But I’ve also seen breathtaking ones. And, while life may not always be kind to me, I always have the choice to show up in a powerful way. My fulfillment and success has got nothing to do with anyone ‘s pessimism or poisonous limitations. It’s got nothing to do with the stretch of generations before me who failed miserably, or how many times I’ve been told “no.”
There are always going to be people more talented, more clever, more skilled, more confident, more savvy than I’ll ever be. And I’m alright with that. Because I know that my success isn’t about keeping an eye on the other guy. It’s about my self-belief and grit and tenacity.
Which brings me back to you: Your goals are either unattainable or in progress, depending upon the beliefs they’re rooted in.
Backup plans are made when poison is ingested…
Even your wildest, weirdest dreams can come true if your mindset is in alignment with your desired destination. You can either be overwhelmed by the mountain or engaged in the climb. Because, if you’re concocting a “plan b,” you’re removing energy and focus from your most beloved goal. People with backup plans achieve the goals of their backup plans; never that of their original plan. I’ve never seen it play out any other way.
Look, it’s not about the venom hitting you in the face. It’s not about projections aiming to worm their way into your brain and contaminate it. You’re going to achieve it, whatever it is. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be next week, but you’re going to do it, yes? And you’re going to know that you’re going to do it every hour of every day until the moment comes when it dawns on you: you’re standing inside of the life you once dreamed about.
So get yourself some self-belief…
So, whatever your goal, write it on a post-it or declare it from the rooftop. Sing out with enthusiasm. Fail and scrape your knees and get back up. Just make up your mind that you won’t drink the poison. Like, don’t even sip on it, okay? Don’t permit it to even graze along your lips.
Whoever says whatever, know what you know and politely decline, and thank them for their feedback. And then–do you know what I want you to do? I want you to stay rooted in a spirit of determination. I want you to fuel your engine of self-belief by taking action. And I want you to call upon the forces of your brilliantly plastic, creatively-capable, life-shaping mind.
This article has been modified from its original version, which was published to Lacey Johnson’s former brand The Daily Doll, and was subsequently syndicated by The Huffington Post.