The 365 Day Challenge: Avoidance is Easy

There will always be things in our lives that we don’t want to do. Whether it’s laundry, cleaning, getting out of bed, or work, it can be like pulling teeth to get motivated to do something you don’t want to do. It would be nice if everything we wanted in life just came to us, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, to wear clothes you have to wash them, to have a fresh space you have to clean it, and to strive for your best self you have to get out of bed and get to work. Maybe it’s not your day-to-day work that irks you, perhaps it’s going the extra mile to get your side hustle up and running. This might be late nights and early mornings, writing uncomfortable emails, meeting a stranger, and putting yourself out there. Avoiding the tough stuff in life can be easy, but without it, can you really get what you want?

In both my “9 to 5” and my side hustle (this blog) I’ve come face to face with avoidance – times when I’ve delayed a tough conversation, expressing my true feelings, or putting in the actual work that needed to be done. But more often than not, when I avoid something, it looms in the background noise of my brain, taking up more and more space until I just go ahead and deal with it. Then there are the times where avoidance leads to acceptance that you’re not going to follow through, which creates missed opportunities and regret.

It took me feeling the regret of missed opportunities over several years for me to realize that avoidance isn’t going to do me any good. For example, it took a few years and job roles for me to realize my professional worth. I missed opportunities to ask for the raise I deserved because it was easier to avoid the hard conversation, but when I finally overcame my avoidance, I was able to have that tough conversation more than once to get what I deserved. What’s great about overcoming avoidance once is it shows you that you can do it again, which makes it easier in the long run.

This is also true when it comes to connecting with the people around you. It can be scary and easy to avoid meeting new people, even if they can help you grow professionally and personally. You have to step outside your box to reach out and hope that they respond the way you hope. Then, you have to actually go and meet them, tell your story, listen, and make the first step towards a new relationship. Say you’re given a contact that could help you grow your side hustle, but you can’t seem to make the time to write an email to say hello. Is it the fear of rejection that’s stopping you? It’s easier to just avoid it altogether even if this person could help you and you could be missing a great opportunity to meet someone new. Guess what, the worst that can happen is they don’t respond at all or they say they’re not interested, but isn’t that better than not trying at all?

Avoidance is easy. It’s easier to Netflix binge instead of cleaning or doing laundry. It’s easier to sleep the day away instead of getting to work. But once you’ve binged and slept to your heart’s content, you end up with a dirty house, no clothes, and missed opportunities. When you overcome your avoidance and take the chance, do the work, you find opportunities that leave you feeling happier and more fulfilled than you were before. So the next time something hard comes along, take a second to realize that avoiding the tough stuff doesn’t get you anywhere but staying exactly where you are. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather keep moving forward!

Click here to see more on the 365 Day Challenge

Live Like a Native: Burning the Roast

Is it just me or does moving in with your significant other make you feel crazy? Motivations and desires I never thought I had have surfaced from some remote place inside me. Among these invasive new thoughts was the sudden need to “provide” for my SO. This overwhelming need to make like June Cleaver and become the homemaker that my mother was growing up suddenly interrupted the way I’d done my adult life since forever.  I wanted, needed, to follow the example my mom set of a modern career woman who balanced children, husband, home, and career all at once. She made it look so easy! So, as my first step into this “Super June” provider role, I made it my duty (without my SO actually saying anything about it) to plan and cook dinner regularly. Actually executing this self-inflicted responsibility, however, was a pipe dream. Conveniently forgetting the times my mom burnt the bread or opted for fast food, my master plan to create healthy and delicious meals quickly became more than I bargained for.

When cooking for one, researching and executing recipes was a selfish act – I could eat all of the kale, brussels sprouts, (ice cream) and sweet potatoes I wanted! But when it came time to add the tastes of my SO into the exercise of meal planning, it got complicated. He’s meat and pasta and I’m fish and quinoa, so the thought of making meals that satisfied us both completely freaked me out. While I tried at first to cater mainly to his needs, I struggled to find meals that both of us enjoyed. I quickly broke down under the pressure I’d created in my head for the type of live-in girlfriend I thought my SO expected. Somehow, even in an age when women have overcome so many stereotypes, I simply couldn’t quite get past the June Cleaver mentality.

It got worse with the dreaded roast incident. Slow cooking meals always looked so easy! Pop all of your ingredients in to the pot and put it on low for hours until everything is cooked to perfection. Simple, right? I’d used a slow cooker before (often with my mom nearby), so when my SO suggested preparing a roast I quickly said yes with little thought, thankful we found a meal we both liked. Little did I know that there was actually a strategy to slow cooking. I just cut everything up and dumped it in. What I didn’t realize is that vegetables typically go on the bottom with the meat layered on top. Not until my SO taste-tested hours later, biting into a basically raw potato, did I realized that I’d royally messed up.

Needless to say the roast tasted like at tire and the vegetables were hopeless. Internally I was freaking out, letting my June Cleaver perfectionism eat away at my thoughts even while my SO sweetly ate the disaster of a meal saying, “it’s really not that bad”. It was that bad. I could no longer stand the pressure I’d been putting on myself and broke down in front of him, frustrated I couldn’t be the dinner provider I’d envisioned. But what came out of this dangerous food-driven path I’d taken myself down was a lesson I’m forever grateful for.

When I broke down, explaining what I *thought* I was supposed to be for my SO he quickly put those thoughts to rest. He didn’t expect me to be any version of June Cleaver – he loved to cook and we could make meals together without having some elaborate plan. We could even run up to the grocery store right before we cooked dinner instead of constantly meal planning – what a concept!

I realize I got lucky here, not every person loves to cook. But the point is that I’d created this world of expectation without even thinking about discussing it with my SO. Instead of living in this self-inflicted pain of perfectionism, I simply needed to talk it out with him. Coming to this understanding has since made cooking dinner less of a chore and more of a fun activity. I’ve even managed to help along his tolerance for brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. While burning the roast was a minor mistake in the long run, it forced me to actually communicate with my SO instead of just internalizing all my crazy thoughts and burying myself in my own expectations. So if you’re like me and moving in with your SO made you a bit crazy, maybe talking it out is the perfect way to get out of your own way and kick June back to the decade she belongs in.

For more on Living Like a Native Click Here!

Live Like a Native: The Spice Rack

We didn’t meet in high school. We didn’t even meet in college. We met as adults – with fully independent lives, including separate homes and styles we’d never had to compromise before. The trend of meeting your significant other at an older age, after you’ve started to build your life, is not uncommon these days. Of course there are immediate benefits here – you “know yourself” better, you’re (probably) not living at home under the watchful eyes of your parents, and you’ve (probably) got a steady job that lets you pay for meals nicer than the dollar menu. But what happens when you decide to incorporate another person into your comfortable, routine-filled life?

Taking the big leap into cohabitation means many things, but first let’s talk about the obstacle that is combining all of the crap you’ve both collected over the years of your established adulthood. As my manfriend and I were both living out our adult lives when we met, we had the obvious essentials for your basic rooms in a home: living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. This meant that we had TWO of everything.  Of course, there were minor conveniences like using my candles in the bathroom and easily choosing his couches over the futon that I pretended was a couch through my many apartment moves prior (bye futon, see ya never). For the most part, combining our things went smoothly with our formula of comparing our duplicates and donating or tossing the older or more deteriorated pieces, but my anxiety loomed overhead – this was going way too well. There had to be something we’d disagree on, right? Obviously.

So what was it that stopped our move-in progress in its tracks? The seemingly useful, yet clearly controversial (for us, at least) spice rack. No joke. We both had a strange attachment to our spice racks. Mine was in pristine condition, with a chrome finish and round shape that fit perfectly in any kitchen (or so I thought, of course). His was hand-built out of wood (he’s a carpenter by trade) and expanded along the back of the counter for more than a foot. It impractically took up too much space in my opinion, but mine impractically had spices that are never used on a daily basis like “Savory” and “Herbs de Provence”. I reluctantly agree – I literally never used those spices. But I held my position that my spice rack was pretty and his was too big. What could we possibly do? Our mutual stubbornness finally took hold after days of compromise over other pieces throughout the home. Why the spice rack? WHY NOW!

We proceeded to debate our points for well over half an hour, both of us holding our ground, neither giving any room for the other to win. So how could we possibly solve this endless circular discussion when we knew neither of us would budge? Eventually we decided to keep both, as we had enough counter space to do so and we agree that eventually we’d have to totally adjust the spices altogether, perhaps moving them to a dedicated cabinet instead. So really no one won, what was the point?

This first move-in disagreement was a wake up call for me. The time of getting everything my way was over, giving way to a time where considering the opinions of someone I loved was crucial for cohabitation. It wasn’t all about me anymore and that was okay because I wanted it to be about us. Sure, this disagreement was ridiculous and certainly not the last, but it made me feel comfortable that we wouldn’t agree on everything always and that didn’t mean I needed to give up my feelings for his. It meant that hearing someone else’s voice in your decisions is just a part of starting a new chapter of 24/7 life with another person. Remembering that it’s not all about you, that’s the point.

Yep, I got all that from a spice rack and you can bet I make it a point to use spices from mine as much as I can even if his does have the salt and pepper. 🙂

For more on Living Like a Native Click Here!