Overcoming discouragement

"I don't want to do this anymore."

I heard myself saying this too many times for too many days in a row. I considered that I had finally reached the point of ultimate burnout and I started looking for other alternatives. 

I wanted to do anything but what I was doing.

I wanted to be anyone but who I was.

I wanted to anywhere but here.


And this was last week, by the way.


After six years of building a business and a life, I was strongly considering giving it all up.

Three years into my gender transition, I just wanted to disappear into obscurity on some remote island somewhere. I was tired of the incessant hustle of balancing a freelance business, graduate school and life. I was weary of all the challenging aspects of my transition, including grieving the losses I experienced from my decision.  I wanted to disconnect from all social media. I wanted to turn my phone off, forever. I wanted to become a shepherd in Nashua, NH like Will Hunting.

I was discouraged beyond belief. What was I doing? Why even bother? What difference am I making? What the F comes next?

I had felt this way many times before but this felt bigger, deeper and stronger than ever. I thought, "this is it. This is really it." So, I gave myself a good day or two to sit with the reality that it might really be it.

I listened to music and danced around my house.

I reached out and expressed my frustration to my therapist and closest pals. 

I got some advice from people who shared some interesting insights and perspectives.

I cooked for myself.

I slept more.

I drank more water.

I lifted weights.

I wrote, with a pen, in an actual journal that I wrote in 10 years ago.

I gave myself permission to quit. And then I promptly decided it wasn't an option.

We are given one life, for all we know. We are given one chance to speak, work, listen and live to make a contribution to the beautiful, imperfect chaos that is humanity. We get one try, for the amount of hours we have, and we get to choose how we will spend it.

For many years, I spent my time seeing my life as one frustration after another, sort of in this constant state of discouragement about someone or something. I'd get my hopes up about something or get attached to an ideal and then be utterly devastated when it didn't happen as I wanted or hoped. This got worse the more I hung around with people who lived the same way. Life was happening TO me and it felt completely out of my control.  

Losing control can lead to discouragement. Learning that control is an illusion lets us overcome discouragement.

Thankfully, my turnaround time with my discouragement is steadily improving. Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's my gender transition. Maybe it's entrepreneurship. Maybe it's Buddhism. Maybe it's less sugar and more kale. Maybe it's more sleep. Maybe it's my adjustment to being an orphan. Maybe it's maturity that tells me I'm entitled to absolutely nothing and it's my job to work for what I want. Maybe it's all of these things combined.

Confronting and working through all these changes and challenges taught me that discouragement happens. It's what we do WHEN it happens that defines the quality of our lives. 

I chose my life. I've created everything in it and everything I'm doing. I can create the reality that it's happening TO me or FOR me.

And, I get to choose what happens next.