don't get stuck in limbo; close that door behind you
At some point in everyone's life, she has heard the "glass half-full vs. empty" argument. This may come as a surprise (wink wink), but I've always been a "glass half-full" kind of person. It's interesting to me to look at a side-by-side comparison of headshots taken nearly a year apart to the day. The headshot on the left was from last February, and the one on the right was from this past weekend.
I've written before about doors opening after one has been closed, but I've never really written in-depth about my feelings on it. I had set my alarm for 6:30 this morning to edit this post, and yet my body propelled me awake at 5:15 so that I could walk the puppy and get to work. Funny how your mind never fully shuts off when you start feeding it the thing it wants to convey through writing.
When a new door opens to you, it's extremely important that YOU close the one behind you. I think that sometimes when people hear the phrase "when one door closes, another one opens" they assume this means the door has already been shut, but that's simply not the case. People try to reopen doors all the time, whether subtly or overtly, but - nine times out of ten - doing so is to their disadvantage.
When one door opens, it is a choice you make to either go through it or linger longer in limbo. "In limbo" is an idiom that makes me laugh because it's figuratively been adapted to just mean that someone's in an indefinite state, or on hold, but in a religious application, Limbo was a place set aside for souls that did not go to Heaven or Hell. (I'm going to be writing a lot of metaphorical stuff here, so please bear with me. It might get wonky at times, but I hope what I'm trying to convey comes across accurately.) It's an extreme comparison because it's so simplistic, but humans have a tendency to complicate things that should be simple.
People are constantly putting themselves in their own limbo: an unrelenting state of waiting and second-guessing, often reaching the precipice without the faith or courage to jump because they don't know what lies ahead. Limbo's comfortable in that sense, and I get it. Human beings are naturally lazy. They want to find the fastest, easiest way to get results with the minimal amount of effort. Even Bill Gates was quoted as saying, "I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it."
But don't be fooled. Bill Gates may be saying that, but he finds ways every single day to overcome the innate human tendency to be lazy. He didn't just wake up one morning and find a fast, easy way to build his empire. He had many more doors shut in his face than he had opened to him. And those doors that were denied to him could've set him back and caused him to feel defeated, but instead of wallowing in his own limbo, he crossed many thresholds that led him to become who he is today. And he didn't just stop when he got the things he wanted. He found new causes into which he could pour his time and energy, constantly evolving and continuing to better himself and the world.
Now before this starts to really sound like one of those "all it takes is the first step to achieve all your dreams" speeches, let's get back to that sticky old metaphor. I think it's important to bring up Bill Gates because he is a man of science and technology, and my intention here is to see big themes. I may be adapting Biblical terms, but that's because most people reading this will have a basic understanding of what Heaven and Hell are understood to be in the grand scheme of religiosity.
Bill Gates didn't hang out in limbo; he created and is constantly, continuously creating his own version of Heaven. He came to the edge of the precipice and he jumped. I couldn't tell you whether or not he is a spiritual man, but I can tell you that he is a man of faith. In the simplest understanding of what that means, he is a man of faith because he didn't quit or give up on his goals. He had faith in himself, which led him to amass everything he has acquired up until this point in his life. And he is a man - like any other human - who has made mistakes along the way. The difference, however, is that he did not let those mistakes paralyze him; instead, he learned from his pitfalls and propelled himself forward through open doors and closed the ones behind him, valuing the lessons but breaking the patterns.
I had a pattern to break recently and it relates back to the original thought of the glass half-full vs. empty scenario. I spent a lot of time with a person who was constantly viewing life as a glass half-empty. This person lived in the negative. I don't judge people for the way they view the world; I try to understand it - to walk a mile in their shoes. I've done it since I was a kid because it's important to try to understand other people's perspectives. I'm not sure why this specific person viewed the world the way they did because they were pursuing a dream and had all the help to do it. To me, that doesn't sound like the worst thing in the world - that kind of support. Looking back I can see how that sort of support can translate into feeling controlled, but no matter what the situation (especially when there were disappointments), there was always some external factor for the person to blame besides them-self. And for awhile, I would do the thing I'm good at: looking at the bright side. I would reinforce all the kindnesses, advantages, privileges, and good fortunes this person had on their side, giving of myself and my cup to make theirs feel a little less empty. But when you spend time with someone who doesn't accept personal responsibility for their actions or failures, it doesn't matter how much you try to fill their glass. Even if their glass is full, they won't see it that way. And all you'll be left with is an empty glass from trying to help them feel like theirs is full.
Looking at my headshot from a year ago versus the one from nearly a week ago, I feel so at peace. I haven't even had to take anxiety medicine in over a month-and-a-half. If that doesn't say anything about how grateful I should be, I don't know what else would. And I am extremely grateful. You don't realize how much something is actually affecting you - even in your appearance - until you're away from it. My brother, you should all know, is a genius in his own right. He is my best friend, and he and I have the most fulfilling conversations about life, love, business, ethics, morality - you name it. I am so thankful for him. As I was looking at the side-by-side photo comparison, I thought about him and something he told me. He is constantly taking on new endeavors and hobbies, bettering himself everyday (must run in our blood). He was the person who got me into boxing, and he recently competed in a Jiu Jitsu competition where he lives. He told me something recently that really resonated with me. He told me that a lot of things in life are like fighting. When you're in the middle of it, throwing punches and battling, you can't see things clearly. You're just swinging with everything you've got in order to survive, but when you're not locked up with that other person and you take a step back, your whole world opens up because you can see exactly what's happening. You can see not just the other person you're fighting, but also the entire ring, the crowd, the grand scope of things. You can evaluate your next move and make a better-informed decision because you've removed yourself from the immediate danger.
There's a clarity that comes with being removed from something, and the farther you get away from that thing that was blinding you, the more lucid everything becomes. Those two separate headshots, to me, represent an unsure girl (on the left) who ended up throwing punches to survive versus a woman (on the right) who crossed the threshold, better and stronger for it.
I don't really recognize the girl in the headshot on the left anymore. And I'm okay with the fact that I don't. When a door opens to you, you need to cross it, and, just as importantly, you need to immediately close the one behind you. Certain things happen in life that change you. I am incredibly grateful for everything that's happened because I've grown up and have crossed that threshold. I will never go back to being that girl on the left, but I still love who she was at that time. She put up with a lot of stuff she shouldn't have had to deal with, but she did it graciously and gave it all the love and positivity she could. I admire her for giving it her all and leaving it all on the table. But she couldn't afford to get stuck in limbo. Limbo is the most dangerous place of all because it's the safest. It's familiar, which is why you get stuck there. And when you get stuck, it means you're not growing, changing, or evolving. Sure, you may not be moving backwards, but you're not making progress either. And if you never jump forward into the unknown, you may as well fall backwards into the Hell of your own making.
**It's worth noting that there are some misused pronouns at certain points in this piece. It was a choice (and not a mistake) in order to not assign a specific sex or gender to the person being discussed.**