Your Situation is Probably Not Just Going to Change Itself

Situation Word Cloud

Click to enlarge the fancy word cloud for this post.

WordPress has recently notified me that it’s been three years since I started blogging here. I decided it would probably be a good idea for me to commemorate that by writing a new post. Something … er… commemorative would have maybe been good, but I feel like we accomplished that 20(!?) posts ago with Frank’s 100th Post Extravaganza.

So let’s talk about something else, yes? I’ve recently become acutely aware of an awful lot of people who seem to want their situations to change, but don’t really want to do anything about it. Sure, we all know those people who seem to have an innate ability to fall into shit and come out smelling like a rose, as the saying goes. But for most people, that’s simply not reality.

I don’t know about you, but it drives me up a wall when someone wants his or her situation to change, but just isn’t willing to put in the effort to pull a Mariah Carey and make it happen. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to blend into the background, but even I know there are times when being passive/ambivalent isn’t going to do you any favors. I can think of three reasons people might behave like this:

  • They’re really lazy. Perhaps they know they’re really lazy, but they’re too lazy to stop being lazy.
  • They’re convinced that with the perfect combination of magic beans and unicorn smiles, they’ll somehow wake up to discover everything they want has just fallen into their laps.
  • They honestly don’t know what steps to take to get there.

The last one I can work with, and I think most people would agree that’s understandable. Unfortunately, it really seems that a disturbingly large number of people would fall into one of the first two categories. There’s always the possibility, too, that I’m over-generalizing. I tend to do that sometimes.

One thing that, in hindsight, I’m really glad my parents did for me (more so my mom) was to make me get a job pretty early on. As a kid, I had chores… just like a lot of other kids. Unlike a lot of other kids, when I was 12, I was coming home from school and taking care of my 10 year old sister, my 2 year old brother, and my 75 year old grandmother while my parents worked. The summer that I was 12, my mom made me get a job picking strawberries (by far the worst job I have ever had), and, with the exception of 2009-2011 (not by choice nor for lack of trying), I’ve been working ever since then. I’ve delivered newspapers, hand-rolled soft pretzels, learned the coffee preferences the mall employees, and a whole host of other things.

I’ve taken that work ethic and learned to apply it to almost every aspect of my life. When someone suggested to me in 9th grade that I was only a mediocre student and would perhaps never go to college (at least not a good one), I worked my ass off and graduated with honors (and also as an AP student).

When someone told me one minor (education) in college was enough, I didn’t believe them and worked extra hard to minor in writing too. And thank goodness.

When a bunch of someones told me I was insane for teaching full time, working a part time job, and then adding 2 grad school classes a semester into that mix (and for an MA in English, no less [read: lots of reading and writing]), I learned to become some kind of time management superhero. In the midst of all of that, I also added a move back to PA, which then required me to finish grad school by commuting 3+ hours to Washington DC one night a week after I was done teaching for the day (and 3 hours back… at 10 pm), then spend another two semesters commuting 50 miles each way to my final 2 classes. All, again, while teaching full time.

And you know what? I finished grad school with a 3.97. Don’t tell me what I can’t do.

And even now, I’ve completely switched careers. I love what I do. But I had to work hard and put in a lot of time. I can’t even tell you how many people said to me, “You’re … writing for free? How is that helping you?” They thought I was crazy. I just understood that was what I had to do to get to where I wanted to be. Things don’t happen overnight. They sometimes require leaps of faith.

So in other words, I’m a hard worker. That was an awful lot of personal info about me, but I tell it to demonstrate my point, which is this:

your situation is probably not just going to change itself.

You can’t just decide to do something new and expect every door to open up for you. You have to work hard and prove yourself. Does this sometimes mean that you have to come home from a long day of work and do more work? Yes. Does it mean that you have to spend a lot of time doing things that might not seem to have any kind of immediate pay off? Of course. Does it mean that sometimes you have to completely break down and rebuild? Oh hell yes. I whole-heartedly believe that nothing good comes easily. This is why I get so frustrated with people who always want to just stay on the safe path of least resistance. Come on. You have to try.

If you look around, you’ll probably find that there are a decent number of people around you who are willing to help you out. Stop finding fault with all of their suggestions and try something new. Let them help you (don’t forget to say thank you). Don’t rule out any endeavor just because you don’t think it’s going to benefit you in any immediate way. Sometimes those stepping stones are the most important.

Finally (and most importantly)…

Stop. Making. Excuses.

Right now. Just stop. We all do it sometimes, but if you’re a habitual excuse-maker, you’re holding yourself back. Sure, you can’t do everything. But stop making excuses when it comes to doing the things you can do to advance yourself, but that you just don’t want to. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do. To that end, it’s also very difficult to get on board (for anything) with someone who always just wants to blame anyone or everyone else for their problems. To quote an oddly inspirational scene from the movie Bridesmaids, you’re your problem, and you’re also your solution.

Let me know how it goes.

What are you doing right now to better your situation? Are you trying as hard as you can? Okay, now answer honestly: are you really trying as hard as you can?

Unrelated Closing News/Troll Warning

Image source: sxc.hu

Image source: sxc.hu

Frank has recently attracted a new troll. It’s been about three years since Taylor Swift Troll, so I suppose we were due. LOL Troll apparently thinks that because it doesn’t personally like Frank the Dinosockosaurus puppet, I should obviously burn it. Well… I’ve got your toll, troll (Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so use your judgment on whether that link is office-friendly). WHAT A FANTASTIC IDEA! Just because you personally don’t like it, I will totally set fire to a puppet that I made. Here’s a better idea: Don’t watch the sock puppet videos. Don’t even read my blog. Scamper off before someone takes over your bridge.

Normally I ignore the trolls because it’s not wise to feed them with attention, but I make this exception because I think now would be a good time for me to toss out my TROLL WARNING: I will publish comments that provide constructive criticism. I will not publish comments from people being assholes just because they have nothing better to do. Especially if they appear to have been written by an 8th grader with an attitude problem.

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