Go Your Own Way

Are you a Fleetwood Mac fan? My mom is. I’m not. But I do appreciate their music.

You might know they have this great song “Go Your Own Way”. I think it’s about not committing to a relationship.

If I could
Maybe I'd give you my world
How can I
When you won't take it from me

You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day
You can go your own way
Go your own way

Tell me why
Everything turned around
Packing up
Shacking up is all you want to do

Want to know what I hear? A love song to society. It’s pretty much how I feel about human beings sometimes. Well, most times.

It seems to me sometimes that people would rather keep picking habits that don’t serve them over ones that do. It seems they want the most for the least amount of work and effort involved.

They want it cheap, fast and easy.

But a life well-lived is none of those things. In fact, it takes incredible amounts of work and tenacity. It’s so much easier to swim with the stream and stay alongside the status quo. So that’s what most people do. That’s what we see all over social media. And most people seem to be ok with a life like that. But I HATE IT. And I think my people (you) do, too. We crave being different and unique and breaking out of molds and boxes.

It takes a lot of work to do that.

But YOU CAN do it. I know. I do it all the time and have been doing it my whole life, really.

When Dave Matthews was the band to follow back in the day, I intentionally didn’t buy a CD. Just one example of many.

And there have been many days, especially in the past six years or so, when I doubted why I lived my life like that and when or if it would ever pay off. I began to get really worried that living outside the lines was catching up to me and I was getting left behind. I was losing the game. I wouldn’t ever be successful. It seemed like the way to be successful and happy, no matter fake and weird it seemed, was to do what everyone else was doing. To just be “normal”.

But I trusted myself. I kept going my own way and doing things differently, in ways that felt right for me. The more I did this, the harder my life got. And if you’ve been following along with me this whole time, you’ve seen the process unfold because I’ve shared it.

And maybe now you’re seeing that…is has totally been the right path all along. Because my life is going the way I want it to, even if it’s nothing like what mainstream society does. And that’s my whole message to you: go your own way. Even if it’s hard. Even when it’s scary. Even when you totally doubt yourself (like I often do).

Because being yourself CAN and DOES pay off. Maybe not the way it does for people who follow the silly societal rules and trends, but do you even really want that for yourself? Maybe you do. In which case, you should probably stop reading.

But if you’re trying to be yourself and have always felt like that was weird or wrong, I’m here to tell you that it’s perfect the way it is. You just have to really believe in yourself and keep sticking to it, especially in the darkest deepest moments when you feel alone and hopeless. Because then you get to have the big breakthroughs that make it all worthwhile.

Like me and what I got invited to do next week, for example. On Wednesday, I’ll be in NYC interviewing author and entrepreneur, Randi Zuckerberg, who wrote “Pick Three: You can have it all (just not every day)”. Pretty cool opportunity, right?!

Totally. And I was invited to do this in my role as a Global Mentor for WeWork Labs. Also another very cool opportunity! And I got that opportunity from other cool things that have happened to me for the past ten years of being a coach and speaker and writer.

And you know what’s the coolest thing about all these experiences? I got chosen for the work I do as a coach. And I emerged from the profound societal stigma of my identity as a trans* person and have persevered to be successful in a career of my own choosing. I also overcame my own personal limitations and mindset to persevere no matter what. Because is it possible I’m being given opportunities simply because I’m trans*? Like being tokenized to make a person or organization look better because they’ve included me? Sure. It’s totally possible and maybe even likely.

But I’m over it. As long as I’m being given opportunities to be visible and inspire (Dillanspire) people, then I’ll take as many as possible for whatever reasons.

If you haven’t experienced stigmatization like this, maybe you don’t get the gravity of what I mean. But I bet you can relate to being or feeling limited by someone or something in your life and told what you should do or be. You may have even been rejected by people you love, like I have, for being yourself. Or you feel that rejection on a daily basis.

And I bet you can relate to how horrible it feels.

And how tempting it is to give up in moments like that.

But if you’ve felt that, then you know how awesome it feels to not give up and how it’s feels SO GOOD when you’ve stuck to your values and principles when you were tested.

And how great the victory feels when you’ve gone your own way and have proven to yourself that it can and does work. Having that experience is TRUE success, in my opinion.

I know Randi feels similarly because I’ve read her book. And while we’ll be talking about work/life balance, we’ll also discuss how hard she worked to achieve her own personal version of success on her own terms.

Which is something we share in common, despite how different our lives are. We’ve both gone our own way and we’re better, stronger people because of it.

I hope this inspired you today,

Dillan

What happens now?

I’ve always had a thing for Jodie Foster. Well, since puberty hit, I guess.

I went through a phase where I watched virtually every movie I could find, one of favorites being the original Freaky Friday. I didn’t know it then, but I was especially captivated by her androgynous teenage character. I almost "knew* she was gay even before she came out decades later. I could totally relate to her, even when she didn’t even know herself, or share herself, in that way yet.

In the movie CONTACT, Ms. Foster’s character, Ellie, travels to outer space and on the edge of a major part of the journey into the Great Unknown, she says breathlessly, “what happens now?!”

Matthew McConaughey’s character says the exact same phrase in INTERSTELLAR, another one of my favorite outer space/sci-fi films. Fun fact! Mr. McConaughey also played a major role opposite Jodie Foster in CONTACT. ;)

I’ve been especially drawn to this phrase “what happens now?!” as I’ve intentionally veered off the straight-and-narrow (pun!) path in every aspect of my life, for most of my life. I just recently put together a presentation about living in 25 different homes in 19 years. And that’s just the past 19! I’ve had more than that in my 40 years on this planet.

As I put together that presentation, I realized the guts and glory it took along the way to pull that shit off. I sat at my computer, watching the pictures scroll by and realized the epic courage it took to do what I’ve done. And the more details you know about my story, the more it may dazzle you.

I don’t come from old or new money. I was raised by a single mother who never attended college. I went to school on full scholarships. I left my career due to homophobia in my early 20s. I’ve weaved in and among many different careers including building my own business as a coach and writer and speaker for the past 10 years. I came out as queer in my early 20s and then again as trans in my mid-30s. I put myself through the grad school at the same time I began my transition. I left the long-term relationship I’d been in when I realized it had served it’s true purpose for me and then moved around to find and figure out what Home meant to me ever since.

And along the way, through all those meanderings, I’ve often asked myself when the going got tough, “what happens now?!”

And the answer I’ve learned to hear and trust is: whatever you want.

What happens in our lives is completely dependent on us and our choices and our decisions from moment to moment. It may be why so many people play it “safe” and stay with what’s familiar. There’s a false sense of security when you live your life like that. But you also stay the same, perhaps to a fault that doesn’t serve you to your highest potential.

“What happens now” feels like it’s out of our control, which it often is, but we do have plenty of agency in what happens next. External factors may influence our means and methods but if we let ourselves fall victim to that, we’re in dire straights. When we empower ourselves to act with whatever we have in the moment, we find our way, sometimes one fingerhold at a time. And if you’ve ever tried to plan something, like a wedding for example, you realize how imperfectly Best Laid Plans may actualize.

I think that’s why I loved the movies I mentioned earlier so much, besides my major crush on Jodie of course, because they show just what happens when we choose our own adventure and let go of what happens next. It’s a dance between choosing to act, choosing to see, choosing to try and releasing our grasp on how it will unfold.

Both characters intentionally choose to go into Deep Space with no idea what will happen to them and no idea who they will become or if they will even continue to exist.

I’ve done that so many times in so many ways, my transition being one of many decisions I’ve made, my moving around the Northeast of America being another, and what I’ve learned from the process is how scary and thrilling and wonderful it is to leave the familiar and learn who you become as a result.

What to say when asked why you're single.

Well, here we are.

It’s that time of year when you’re attending parties and stuff and people like to be curious (read: rude) and ask about your relationship status, assuming and asserting in their question that you’re doing something WRONG if you’re still single. Meanwhile they walk into the next room and have a co-dependent cat fight with the person they hate but can’t quit on or leave. And you’re like, “really? I’m supposed to want THAT for myself?”

Mmmm. I know you’re thinking #notallrelationships but, there’s a part of you that knows I’m right. Right? Right.

I’m sort of kidding here. Of course I know there are many people who find the loves their lives and feel really happy. But from conversations in coaching sessions and also with friends or peers, it’s been a real eye-opener for me how many relationships aren’t the wedded/partnered bliss that I once believed from what’s being portrayed. I think it’s important to unpack that and make it more real.

The questioning about relationship status happens whatever age you are but especially in middle and late adulthood, when social expectations about partnership and family are fierce. Being single during these years often has a negative stigma which is hilarious because I believe most people are more miserable than they are happily matched. Don’t let people make you think otherwise.

Is being single lonely? Sure. Sometimes.

Is being single awesome? YES! You get all the time to do all the things!

Is being single some indication of you being broken or weird or some other word because you don’t fit into a widely-regarded yet rarely-explored social norm? NOPE.

Finding a partner you truly love and respect is awesome. If you’re monogamous and that’s your thing, of course. Finding a happy partnership could, and should(?), really add benefit for your life. But being single has its merits and there’s no need to keep struggling and suffering about your status for yet another holiday season—and beyond.

Unlike what people may try to insinuate, being single may indicate you have one of three things:

1) taste- you don’t settle. It’s just not how you’re built. You have standards and you stick to them and don’t really feel inclined to deviate. Rigorously high standards? What IS too high, really? People don’t come with return receipts without some fallout so…you peruse the merchandise more carefully before choosing.

2) self-confidence- sure, being single can be weird sometimes when you’re hanging around a bunch of people who partnered up from fear of being alone (OFTEN) or because they actually love the person they’re with (RARE) but only if you think about it from the lens of lack. BE CONFIDENT and you will soon see things for how they really are. Hint: listen carefully when couples interact with each other. It reveals a lot.

3) patience- I mean, what’s the rush? Finding someone to be with just so you can fit in or feel “normal”? So you can spend your best years playing games or struggling in power dynamics that leave you exhausted? What if you waited until you’re more mature and got yourself figured out well and then find someone who has also done that work. EUREKA! Sounds like heaven to me. People used to get hitched so young because they had livestock to care for and needed bodies to tend the critters. These people also died by the age of 40. We aren’t there anymore. We can do things differently. Take your time.

***NOW. If you are single from fear of commitment or because you seem to have some behaviors that limit your emotional availability or…something else a coach or therapist can help you with, I suggest you look into getting some support. It IS worth exploring why you’re single if you feel fear or discomfort about your status.***

After being single for so many years (I’ve lost count now), someone asked me the other day if I wanted to be partnered again. It was interesting to be asked that and I wondered if it’s because it’s SUCH a cultural expectation even if you, like I, feel pretty content with your single-hood. While I grieved the person or the loss of my past relationships, I never really had baggage around being a single person. I see people strugging around it probably because they’re concerned with what people think of them. I do worry about this, for other reasons, but not because I feel insecure about being single. Being selectively single for this many years has allowed me time and space to witness other peoples’ relationships and reflect on my own over the years. All this introspection helps me be really clear and intentional about who I’d like to be and what I’d really want in my next relationship. And that’s exactly what I told the person who asked me.

I hope this is helpful if you’ve been feeling badly about being single or unsure what to say when asked about it. You may find even more peace if you consider how much the culture is obsessed with partnering up even when it doesn’t serve people or make them satisfied. And it’s amusing how people project their expectations onto you. People may even feel envious or, in some cases, even threatened by someone being single, often because they are unsatisfied in whatever arrangement they have and desperately crave the freedom that comes with single-hood. When they ask you, remember this, and you might inspire them with your empowered answer!!

If people come at you with their weirdness about your life choices, you can use one of these cleverly-crafted replies below. If you want to quote me, GO FOR IT. Share the love. ;)

Just do whatever you need to do to feel good about your status as a single person and take action to change it, only if you WANT to.

If people ask why you're still single, you can reply:

1) because I'm not insecure and don't need to fit into societal expectations

2) because I'm waiting to find an emotionally mature partner and haven't met that person yet

3) because I'm working on my own personal development until I feel confident and mature enough to make a good partner

4) I feel confident I will find the right person when the time is right, and I don't need to force anything

5) I'm content living by myself and enjoy my solitude

6) I'd rather invest in myself and my friends and not chase people around just to look "normal" 

7) I don't feel incomplete without a partner, so I can be patient to find the right one

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!