I got home around 11PM from a play on Sunday night. In the taxi home, I wrote a note on my iPhone: “Why Your Life is Fucked Up.”
When I came inside, I did the life stuff that needed doing and opened my computer and wrote this post. At first, I thought it was something I just needed to get out of my system – something I call a Permanent Draft. This morning, I changed my mind. It was a “publish.”
I’m a woman who’s fucked up her life in more ways than I can count. I just got to thinking why the things in my life that are fucked stay fucked or ultimately get to the illuminated status of “unfucked.” In my business, I unfuck things for brands and businesses. So why is it so hard to do for my own life? In 42 years, I’ve gotten better at it (you can read about that here). I still have my kryptonite, but hell, I have more days where I feel like both of the fucking Wonder Twins than I do a quivering pile of shit. So, if you happen to be in a place where you think your life is fucked up, these are probably the reasons. They’re my kryptonite. Maybe you’ll recognize some of your own.
You put yourself last. Repeatedly. Consistently.
Because someone else is more important. The kids, the spouse, the job, the parents, the boss, the party, the wedding, the boy/girlfriend…if you can come up with some sort of reason to put yourself anything but first, I’ll believe whatever it is. I lived multiple decades of my life in every position except first. At age 42, that’s a brutal truth to own. And there’s a huge possibility that your life is fucked up because you’ve lost your you. I get it. You thought it was the honorable and selfless move to put everyone and everything else before you and you bought into the lie of, “That’s just what <insert role here> do.” Well, it’s not. We all compromise and make the occasional sacrifice – this is what we do for those we love. But if you finish less than first more often than not, then you’re not doing right by the people you love and love you in return. You’re being a doormat. And you deserve to be the most important person in every relationship you’re in. And no, this isn’t about telling your kids or spouse or lover or boss to fuck straight off. It’s about asking yourself where you finish and how often and what you’re going to do to make yourself a priority. You’re worth fuckall to everyone if your YOU isn’t taken care of.
You don’t tell people you appreciate them.
On Sunday last week (or is it this week? I have no idea.), I got two completely random messages from friends telling me that they appreciate me. My first response? “What the hell prompted that?” So, I asked the first one what the hell. His response was simple. “A friend of mine last night reminded me that we should really value and appreciate people in our lives who are helping us enjoy our lives. Perhaps in your words, the people you would give more than zero fucks for.” I instantly felt like an asshole. Why are we suspect when people tell us that they appreciate us? We don’t say it often enough. What sucks is that when we do say it, half (more than half) the time we don’t mean it and it’s no more than a gesture. Platitudes. Wasted air. A back alley plastic surgery attempt at being human. So when my second friend (yes, I’m graced with at least two) told me later that evening that he appreciated me, I smiled. And I told him I appreciated him, too. Because I do. Because we don’t make memories alone. We make them with other people. And if your life is feeling fucked up, think about the people you appreciate. Then tell them that in just that many words. And mean it, for fuck’s sake. Because life happens and so does death and regret is an asshole you don’t need because you already have the one you were born with.
You’re afraid of getting your heart broken.
No one walks out the front door of the house in the morning and says, “Wooooooooo! I’m gonna get the shit kicked out of me by love today.” Well, except for that smartass kid in Love, Actually who fell in love with the amazing little girl who could rock the daylights out of “All I Want for Christmas is You.” I digress. No one looks forward to getting his or her heart broken. But if you let that fear keep you from ever trying to make a connection with another human being, that would be a huge reason your life is fucked up. Maybe you got it broken once and it hurt something awful, like sriracha sauce on road rash kind of hurt. You told yourself that there was no way you could live through that again. So you haven’t. And you won’t. You sabotage yourself at every turn and hold every new potential love you meet responsible for the mistakes of a love (or several) past. Here’s a tip from a gal who’s had her heart broken countless times and in more pieces than she ever imagined possible: love hurts. Not because it’s malicious. Love is never, ever malicious. Love hurts because you’ve ripped open your chest and told someone else he or she can reach in and hold your lifeline in his or her hands. You’re vulnerable. And sometimes we hurt those who love. Lots of times, it works out okay and we emerge stronger. Sorry but glad it all happened. And sometimes, we break so completely that they call in a search and rescue squad for the pieces. But if you’re afraid to get your heart broken, there’s someone out in the world ready to love you and all you’re doing is denying that person the joy of loving you. That’s a dick move.
You think “perfect” exists.
It doesn’t. Get over it. You’re fucked up and I’m fucked up. What’s perfect is when we can surround ourselves with who appreciate our brand of fucked up so we can wake up every day and be exactly who we are. How the hell are the other freaks going to find you if you don’t let your freak flag fly? Life gets fucked up when we get attached to some unobtainable definition of perfection and we can’t stop and until we get it. There is at least one thing in your life right now that is perfect(ly fucked up). Name it. Love it. Own it. It’s your mess. And it’s fucking perfect.
You can’t accept a compliment.
Have you ever been given a compliment and immediately launched into a Tolstoy-length explanation of why that person’s estimation is incorrect? You. Asshole. Shut up and take the fucking compliment. It’s a compliment. Someone is praising you. All that is required is the utterance of two simple words: thank you. Say thank you and shut up. Maybe you think you don’t deserve compliments or your parents or some other figure told you/taught you that it’s not humble to accept a kindness. Fuck that and fuck it in the neck with a purple plastic goldfish. Say thank you when someone compliments you. Mean it. And who knows – you might actually start to believe what people are saying about you. You know, all those wonderful things people are saying about you. The bottom line is this: When you talk back a compliment, you’re calling the person who gave it to you an asshole. I think we all know who the real asshole is in this situation. Which makes me wonder why MS Word’s spell checker can’t autocorrect me when I type “assshole.”
You’ve become a victim to your story.
You get what you believe you deserve. Period. If you believe that you aren’t worthy of happiness, financial success, love, or respect, I guarantee that you won’t find any of those things showing up in your life. We all have this shitty, worn cassette tape playing in our brains (and for those of you who are too young to remember cassette tapes, I…I just can’t.) that contains our story. How many times are you going to play that thing and then hit the rewind button so it’s ready to play again when shit doesn’t go the way you want? Odds are your life is fucked up in part because you don’t believe you’re worthy of the things you want most. When I was a financial advisor (yes, I used to manage people’s money for a living), there was one phrase that applies just as much now as it did then: Past performance is not indicative of future results. Unfuck your life a little bit each day and treat yourself as if you deserve and are worthy of the things and feelings you lack. The victim role is over-cast, never played well, and never (ever) wins the Oscar.
You allow the wrong people to determine your worth.
Your life is probably fucked up because you’ve made your heart and soul less important than the opinions of others. If there is one thing I ask you to do, and today, it is to force your need for approval (and decision by committee) to die a fiery and painful death. Your gut is all the measure you need. Listen to it. Turn up the volume. Stop building a life based on the changing tides of the whims of the masses. You are the only one who’s going to give yourself permission to be the person you want to become. You are the only one who is going to love yourself enough so that you can fully love another. You already have worth – tremendous worth. But no one except you can make you own that.
You’ve rented a storage unit for your bullshit (and you keep paying the rent).
Yeah, you do. And if I walked into it, here’s what I’d see written on the sides of the boxes (because it’s the same shit that’s in MY storage unit): Guys I Keep Dating, Lies I Keep Telling Myself, Things That Hurt Me That I Keep Doing, Things I Don’t Deserve, Shit a Guy Said to Me Once That I’ll Never Forget, Things I Can’t Do. Need I go on? Go back to the line about being a victim to your story. Want to unfuck your life? Try cleaning out your storage unit. In fact, cancel the lease on that motherfucker and get yourself something real niiiiiize instead.
You confuse being polite with being kind.
If there were one word I would universally eradicate from the behavioral lexicon of the human race, it would be “polite.” Many of us were raised to be polite and I believe polite should go shit in a hat. When you’re polite, you’re being false. Dishonest. We’d go a long way towards unfucking things if we’d quit it with the polite and turn up the volume on kindness. You know, words we mean shared with other human beings who have feelings just like we do. We forget polite (or we remember it in a not-so-good way). Kindness is enduring. And the bitch of it is – it’s just as easy to be kind as it is to be polite and you’ll only be remembered for being one of those.
You think living and business are two separate things.
I meet a metric shit ton of people who think life and work exist in silos. They don’t. If they did, we wouldn’t have bullshit myths like “work-life balance” floating around (see below). What you do to earn a living shapes who you are while you’re earning it. For 17 years, I worked. Jesus on a skateboard, did I work and I did everything from dancing around an amusement park as Daffy Duck in Houston’s 98 degree summers to making absurd sums of money working for a 24-year-old sociopathic narcissist in the real estate industry. I was an asshole doing the latter. Ecstatic doing the former. Find something you love in the way you earn your living. Build a living doing what you love and with people you love working with. Life’s too short to spend with assholes who don’t value you, your ideas, and your worth. Life’s also way too fucking short to waste it thinking your life and business aren’t forever married in a (un)holy union and if one is fucked, the other probably has a lot to do with the level of fucked-ness.
You buy into the myth of work-life balance.
Yes. Somewhere there’s a scale with life on one side and work on the other. Except there’s not. There’s never been a scale and there’s never been a balance. Some days, it’s all we can do to drag ass to a meeting, kids to school, ourselves to the coffee machine and others, a day full of bliss flies by and you fall onto your pillow happy and madly in love with the life you live. When you find that you have more of the former than the latter, you are the problem. When you fix your YOU problem, you’ll have more of the latter. Work to live. Because you love it. Living to work leaves nothing behind except the people you need and love most.
Jesus. That’s a long list. A lot of words. If you TL;DR’d out mid-way, I didn’t judge. But if all of this stuff in my first 41 years taught me anything, it’s that I’m the reason my life is fucked up. Always. And I’m the only one who can change that.
So, go forth. Unfuck yourself. Not all at once (I. Can’t. Even.). A little bit each day. And while we’ll never be completely unfucked, we just might find a day where we find the list of things that are fucked to be much, much shorter than those that are good.
And those, my friends – those are the good days. You deserve more of them. Don’t you?
or, for the SFW crowd…