Stop being a victim of the choices you’ve made.
My wife and I get out of bed at roughly the same time every morning. This is quite a new development. For nearly a year, she has been working at a preschool on the other side of town, opening the building at 6AM; she would wake up around 4:45AM. I, on the other hand, go into work at 8AM, so getting out of bed anytime before 7:00 was clearly out of the question. But now, that’s different. Now, she’s an elementary school teacher who goes to work around the same time I do, so we get to wake up together. But like I said, this is new.
This morning when her alarm went off (it woke me up as well), she reached over and either turned it off or set it to Snooze. As I curled under the covers with my back to her, the notion occurred to me that my alarm would soon be sounding as well. Regardless, when she muted her alarm and the air was again filled with the slow and comfortable silence of the early morning calm, she cuddled up behind me with a comfy groan and softly draped her arm over my chest. I could feel her breathing on the back of my neck, and I swear I could hear her slightly smiling.
And then, something odd happened. I was suddenly filled with a very deep and heavy sense of melancholy that I could not – at the time – understand or explain. It was as though I was saddened by the fact that she was cuddling with me, and I couldn’t understand why. And then, it occurred to me. It occurred to me that the reason she was laying in bed with me at that moment was because she wasn’t working her old job teaching preschool for a moderate hourly wage. She was now in a career – a respectable career, a salaried career, her professional goal – and that afforded her the opportunity to sleep a few more hours and earn a lot more money.
That’s when I came to a difficult realization: My wife has surpassed me in nearly every conceivable way. But I didn’t see this as an epiphany that I’d lost some sort of competition or anything of the sort. Rather, it really hit me – harder than it ever had in the past – that this woman is far too good for me and deserves so much better than me. That weight that I was feeling as she lightly breathed on the back of my neck was the feeling of me weighing her down, holding her back. I was suddenly filled with this paralyzing sense of dread, as though I would lose her at any moment as soon as she realized that I was just unnecessary baggage, preventing her from succeeding as a professional and as a person.
I have no idea how much validity there was (or is) in that notion, but nonetheless, it was there, and it was difficult to handle. I can’t help but see ever-so-clearly that her life is on a happy successful up-swing; my life is stuck in a muddy rut of my own self-imposed limitations; a byproduct of my own errant, destructive, and tragic choices.
In my opinion, I’ve only ever been a real “victim” once. And I feel like I’ve overcome that with as much strength and success as I could have hoped for, considering the circumstances. But the subsequent choices I’ve made in my life have caused significant repercussions.
But here’s my problem: I am allowing those choices to limit my potential. I am allowing myself to be a victim of the choices I’ve made. And I think we all have a tendency to do this. We all see certain situations in our lives as less-than-ideal because of things we’ve done or decisions we’ve made or paths we’ve taken; this is no way to live.
We must stop being the victims of our choices.
We must start being the benefactors of our actions.
I am beginning to see that I have so much more potential to be so much more than I am right now. I’ve spent nearly two years feeling “stuck” in the life I’ve created for myself because of the actions of my past. My wife is steadily achieving more and more professional success. And one of the biggest ways that I can honor her and show my gratitude to her for being (and remaining) my wife is to strive for as much success for myself as well. If I simply sit back and watch her succeed in her endeavors without striving for successes of my own, what kind of man does that make me? The answer: Not a man at all!
My mentality has been, “I guess I’ll make the best my mediocre reality.”
My mentality must be “I will create a better, happier, and more successful reality.”
I don’t have limitations – I have obstacles to overcome.
I don’t have possibilities – I have goals to achieve.
I don’t have enemies – I have critics to defy.
I am not the victim of my choices – I am the benefactor of my actions.
I am fueled by resistance. My biggest motivators are the people who tell me I cannot do something – that I am not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not fast enough – those people only make me work harder, dig deeper, and set the bar higher than before. Because I don’t simply have goals, I have aspirations – realistic aspirations that are within my grasp. What I must do is push toward achievement. “Tomorrow” is a dangerous concept – success and achievement must start today.
A goal without a timeline is just a wish.
Never – ever – let your past determine your future.