About six or seven years ago, I was driving home late at night with tears on my face and furious. I had a long day of customers yelling at me and I was mad that this was the life I had chosen for myself.
24 year old Dominique was pretty dead set on this idea of becoming a rockstar for most of my life. Due to life events and me choosing to walk away from that dream, I felt like I had just asked somebody to rip the skin off of my body. The devastation was still fresh and the wound still raw.
Anything I pursued during that season, I automatically became bitter at because it wasn’t my “dream.”
So that night when I was driving home, angry and upset that I was making my living by working a retail job, I was filled with shame. Shame that I had all of these huge aspirations that I had set out to achieve (so publicly, I might add) and life as Dominique the Rockstar had ceased to exist.
If this all sounds super egotistical, that’s because it was. But it was real to me. It was my truth. I am confident we have similar stories of things we tried and failed at that caused us some public shame and bruised our egos.
I had this notion that nothing would ever be as awesome as being a famous drummer touring the world with my band. Living the dream. But the truth was, I could barely find and keep a part time job. 2008-2010 was a tough season for work. And I was lucky to be steadily employed by an incredible company. I just couldn’t see it.
We have this thing, you see, where we convince ourselves, if where we are at is not where we want to be than it isn’t good. We get bitter at circumstance because we would rather it be different. So we take it out on our current situation. Like me, being bitter at my job when I actually had a great job. But if our hearts are set on other sites, we get a mentality that we are too good for where we are at.
That is dangerous ground.
This mentality that we should be somewhere else causes us to miss out on A LOT. We lock our minds into a fixed mentality that is not open to growth or learning opportunities.
This is ego.
Ego, I’ve decided is our internal defense mechanism. Basically, its fear masked by pride.
Ego says you are better than where you are. You shouldn’t be there. This is a waste of time. There’s nothing else you could possibly learn. You are surrounded by a bunch of idiots. The list goes on and on, really. Ego is selfish. It doesn’t see beyond your belly button and causes your brain to only be focused on you. And let me tell you, the longer you focus on yourself, the worse it gets.
Wallowing in bitterness about our circumstance does nothing but perpetuate our selfishness while still overlooking the real problem. It’s like being overly concerned and self conscious about being over weight, but blaming the 3 donuts you just ate.
And while we are stuck, in the perpetual belly button me-me-me-cycle, there are good things happening all around us that we are missing out on. When I was in my darkest season of depression, there was a lot “Me” thinking. Obsessively thinking about myself, really. I didn’t start to find escape until I began trying to get outside of myself. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the best way I can describe it. I had to push myself aside. Dominique needed to move over so I could do things with others and be a part of something bigger than myself to remember that this world is about more than me (I want to be careful not to downplay the hurt that the devastation of life sometimes causes. Pain is real. And sometimes we even go numb after a while. If you are suffering emotionally or mentally, seek out help. Find others you can trust and be honest about your difficulties. You can email me too. But know there is hope.).
The best way to escape the grip of your ego is gratitude. Find things to be grateful for in your circumstance. For me, I was working with incredible people. I was gaining a new skill set. My job was still challenging and I have learned more from that company than any other job. It also paid pretty decent. Current jobs don’t keep you from your dream job. They help you work towards it. They give you sustainability while you find your footing; while you trip and fall and learn your craft. And if you are truly unhappy with your circumstance, if there is really is no good that you can find in your situation, then change it. Stop blaming it.
You’re no better than anybody else. That may have hurt a bit. But it’s true. Stop thinking you’re special. You’re not. But you are unique. You have your own brain and skill sets that are unique to you and your life experiences. Use them, right where you are at and be proud of them. Be willing to grow and learn from others and situations all around you. I guarantee you can learn things from your day job that can translate over to your dream job, you just have to be open to it. Let’s not be bitter at others who are living our dream, either. Let’s learn from them.
Basically, let’s choose not to be that bitter drunk uncle who is mad at the world for the rest of their lives. Take control of your ego. Choose to move forward with grace and humility. Find things you are grateful for in your current circumstance and invest your energy on the things you can actually control.
Do you have a story of when your ego got in the way and you had to get it back in check? Feel free to share in the comments below.