Finding Ways to Work With What Seems Unworkable

When I was 14, I didn’t know that I didn’t have to apologize all the time.

So I started questions with, “I’m sorry,” I entered rooms with, “Sorry!”, I brushed by someone and would swamp her in apologies.

When I was 24, I didn’t know how to ask for help. So I made unnecessary mistakes, didn’t learn as much as I could have, and felt the isolating pain of thinking I was the only who didn’t understand.

Now, I am 34. I’ve come to see I don’t need to apologize for taking up space, for existing. I’ve learned that asking for help is a marker of real strength.

I know more now about what I didn’t know 10, 20 years ago. I’m not flawless at these things, but I have learned - as we all do - many ways to work with things that once seemed unworkable.

There are things I don’t know now. How to listen without trying to fix someone, how to say no definitively, how to be a good friend of myself.

When it feels like if I say no, I’ll be hated; when I get the huge urge to offer solutions to someone who only needs to be heard; when I berate myself for something I would forgive a friend for - when I can’t imagine a way to handle the things that chronically trip me up, what I’m working on is this reminder:

Not long ago, you felt the same way about something that’s doable for you now. If you’re kind to yourself, if you believe there’s a way forward, if you’re willing to learn and experiment and stretch, not long from now, you’ll file this seemingly unworkable situation in the “workable” file.

We grow more than we know. Who we are is not who we will be always. Our charge is to show up to the work of learning and expanding. And the more we do that, the larger the “workable” file will become.

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