Worst day turned around. How? Choose agency over apathy

Disclaimer: I wrote this post before the election results were in. I’m going to address the election results in another post but this post had already been written. So it’s with a heavy heart that I’m sending this to you guys today. I wanted to send something out in case this might help anyone. Look forward to a post with my thoughts about what’s going on in our country.

grinder-newsletter-pic-ishita Rob Lowe makes sense everywhere, but keep reading. It’ll become clear why he shows up…

Ever had a day when you want to opt-out of life? You know, for the afternoon or….forever?

Two days ago I received a bunch of “no’s” for an event I’m holding this month. After sending an email to higher-ups sharing my vision and requesting what I needed to carry it out, replies were straight up “No” or “we do it like this. Can’t allow it – we don’t have the resources.” I also had two conversations with people where I set boundaries and it turned out pretty awkward. Then the landlord of my cozy apartment said the place may be up for grabs all of a sudden; I had to discuss a shitload of logistics very quickly. I HATE logistics. Especially at 2pm on a Monday.

I’m no stranger to obstacles. But the type and context of these obstacles got me:

#1. Don’t mess with my vision. Just don’t do it. I may tinker, but not you. Please. Thank you.

#2. I don’t see obstacles like others do. When people say we can’t do this or that, I usually share my vision so they *get* it, find a workaround, or break a rule. It usually works. I’m aware the rest of the world doesn’t operate like this or like it when I do this; I may be perceived as stubborn and aggressive i.e. not everyone’s cup of tea. Here, my partners are smart and receptive, but they’re not who I’m used to working with; people who jump on board the risk-taking train without much convincing. In this case, my partners have operated, for decades, within the Detroit public education system; one institution, one city, both with their own deeply entrenched conventions. Breaking rules means I upset a system and everything it upholds for them. So it doesn’t matter what I think; a convention may be unreasonable to me, but I don’t want to, nor can I, overthrow it. Especially not in two weeks. Doing so turns it into them; them, not my collaborators. So the confines of the system may drive me nuts – honestly the reason I became an entrepreneur was to work outside a system – I don’t want to bypass the rules.

This shakes me more than most things ordinarily would.

#3. When people are hurt, even if setting boundaries was necessary – and it was – I still feel weird. I was tactful, kind, and their feelings were still hurt. I never avoid the hard work of standing for my highest self, but the practice of it can be very awkward in real life.

I got home at 2pm and sank into my couch.

“The event’s not gonna look how I want it to. It’ll be less stellar and cool than it CAN be; the vision won’t pan out…” “Why are these rules even in place?” … “I hope X isn’t feeling too bad about our conversation…” “Shit. Now I gotta figure out this housing this. Gawd.” Long sigh.

I opened my laptop and typed “N” into the browser. The Netflix smiley popped up: “Are you Virat, Rashmi, or Ishita?”

Why does it smile like that?

Hi Netflix. It’s me, Ishita. :) And it’s that fast.

As the Grinder episode list popped up, I knew what had just happened.

I’d been owned.

I looked at the screen and sighed again.

I’d been owned by overwhelm, #1 trigger and enemy of enthusiasm and ALL GOOD THINGS.

It’s not new – overwhelm has always been what takes me out. The second I start to feel it, the energy drains from my body and my arms and legs get tired and slumpy. Like Gumby.

Gumby smiles a lot but we can all agree that he’s mostly useless right? Gumby is NOT playing a BIG game in life.

As if on cue, apathy set in. “Screw it. Doesn’t matter anyway. I’ll deal with it later. Why do I even have to think about this stuff?”

I looked at the screen and sighed again. Lots of sighing! “This is what you’re gonna do, Ishita? Take yourself out? C’mon girl. You’re doing amazing things, get this jazz over with. Just do it. Who cares what happens. At least you won’t be stressed 3 hours from now thinking about it. You know it’ll be waiting for you when you’re done so why not just handle it now?”

She’s gotten wiser, louder, and a tad more manipulative, my inside voice; she knows what’ll make me pay attention, that smart cookie.

I smiled. Gumby stood up. “You’re right inside Ish. I kinda hate it, but let’s do it. #IMWITHYOU.”

The moment I said it (I recommend always saying it out loud) I felt the energy return to my body. I sat up on the couch. Suddenly I had a lot of energy. What was I gonna do with it?

I pulled my computer onto my lap and tapped out an email. In 3 minutes I’d replied to the school board accepting certain things, requesting a few more (you always gotta ask) ;). I left the landlord a message with terms I thought were fair to us both. I mentally reviewed the boundary conversations I’d had; though people’s feelings were hurt temporarily, the lasting feeling of standing for myself and doing it as directly and kindly as I could was more important. Time to move on.

Literally everything I’d stressed about so intensely was done in an hour, heaviness gone.

Let’s unpack why.

  • I chose to step out of overwhelm through action, however small or imperfect.
  • I acted immediately instead of allowing it to set in.
    That inertia is HARD to battle.
  • I got support.
    Thankfully my coach and I had a call that day. She’s the BEST, kindest woman. She knows my full capacity and stands for me like a champ. Seriously. She reaffirmed why I had to set boundaries, it was exactly what I needed to hear, and I got the emotional and spiritual guidance I needed to move forward… instead of sink.
  • I took time to myself.
    Earlier that day, I took 30 minutes to myself. I ate my eggs and just breathed deeply. And watched some Internet memes. Memes and breathing work wonders. Hugely effective at dealing with…life. I centered and grounded myself again.
  • I got clear on the ESSENCE of my event. My WHY.
    So huge. Once I let go of how I wanted everything to be, I saw that what mattered most was the impact I wanted to have on these young women. Instead of having everything perfect, I relinquished the details and re-adjusted to “How can I still knock this out of the park for the girls? Forget what I think is perfect and cool. What do they want?” I accepted the confines and instantly got my enthusiasm back from revisiting my WHY.
  • I ate.
    As soon as I sent the first email, I ate healthy food so hunger didn’t add to the crap mix. Nourishing myself had the bonus effect of satisfying me and helping me not make poor choices later that could also then add to the crap mix.
  • I called a friend because I didn’t want to shoulder it alone.
    I asked if I could talk some of it through with her. Mind you, I called a specific friend who I knew could handle it. Not everyone’s up for it or good at it.
  • I GOT TO IT.
    I confronted each item, especially grey ones that would usually stop me: How to respond to the landlord fairly but directly? Do I say something to the person I set boundaries with? (Answer: no) Should I accept the school’s confines or power through? It’s not the easy stuff that stops us, it’s the grey area where we procrastinate. To combat that, I just did it and did it fast. These things are best done with velocity. Be fair. Be kind. Then SAY it, SEND it, TELL the truth, DO it.

Agency is the capacity to act in any given environment and exert your power. It’s THE thing you want in moments like this.

No matter how small your choice is, the act of choosing GIVES you power. Gives you energy.

If you can then also know your trigger and know when it arises, you’re in even better shape. Then YOU choose what you do instead of your trigger choosing for you. And your trigger always chooses the icky default habits.

What am I doing right now, you ask?

Well, I’m sitting here with a hot cuppa tea genuinely enjoying a hilarious episode of The Grinder. I’m not just pseudo watching, pseudo stressing out. I feel light-hearted, powerful. Calm. EVERYTHING feels different. And it only took one hour of solid action. Ridiculous. The day could’ve gone very differently; I could’ve been in fetal position on the ground sighing about how overwhelmed I was.

When you commit to taking action, the act itself creates faster and simpler answers to your problems.

Who cares why or how you take action, just get into it. Problems will start to work themselves out instead of feeling like a mountain of unsolvable “stuff.” Confront directly and CHOOSE – it gives you tremendous power. The relief you’ll feel is reason enough to act.

Sometimes what happens in the a.m. affects our p.m. Sometimes Monday screws up the rest of the week all the way to Friday. Don’t let it happen. Don’t allow it. Don’t spend one minute feeling disempowered. Get out of Gumby. Agency will pull you through.

You have enormous agency in every moment – the power to act and choose. USE IT.

To our collective power.

xx Ishita

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