When I graduated college, I moved by myself to a strange city amidst a hailstorm of doomsday reports about the homeless and unemployment rates. As someone who enjoys detail-oriented planning and the feeling of success: I panicked. It was an oddly well-executed panic but that is most certainly what it was. My parents tried to make me see that working as a nanny, without a contract, for someone whose child was conceived with a man she met at Lollapalooza 10 months before I arrived, with my salary being the privilege of living in her extra room off the kitchen, in an apartment that smelled like pot (not sage as I insisted to my concerned father), was not so much a detail-oriented success plan, as a crammed-chock-full-of–obvious-red-flags disaster plan. To no avail.
I put my fingers in my ears, closed my eyes, and jumped off the diving board.
Eventually I surfaced to find I was living in a room that barely fit a double bed, which so reeked of cat urine, I had to run a fan constantly to avoid a headache. All of my clothing was being kept on the back porch under a shower curtain. I had absolutely no social life outside of the apartment, was being paid 4.6 dollars an hour (or sometimes she would just bring me home a cute belt or a pair of shoes). I could tell she was going through my things. I had gained twenty pounds and I was rapidly heading towards broke.
Yet I insisted that I was happy. That the job was astoundingly perfect for my specific situation, and if she was somehow abusing me as an employee, she had no idea. It was all a misunderstanding. I was FINE. People are essentially GOOD. I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t handle the adversity.
Or that I had made a mistake.
I eventually hit a breaking point, acknowledged that I was allowing myself to be mistreated, that a bird shat on my favorite shirt because they were both living outside, and immediately things began to happen. I quit my job, I made some friends, I booked two acting gigs, I met a man, I lost the weight, I got myself a closet, and I left.
The first place Josie went when we began dissecting the theory of Yes! And… was a lesson her mother teaches in acting classes:
You have to react to things as they actually happen, not as you would like them to be.
Life is messy. Ugh. People do bad things. We lose our jobs. Chocolate has calories. Tattoos are permanent. Parents divorce. People die. We get rejected, we fail, we lose, we sink. And the moment we admit it, is the moment we move forward.
One beautiful thing about Yes! And… is that until we acknowledge what is, we cannot create what could be, because life still has to progress in linear fashion. You can’t get to ‘B’ if you don’t start with ‘A’. And you can’t start with ‘A’ until you acknowledge that you’re on the first letter of the alphabet. Not the fourth, or the twenty-sixth, or a letter instead of the number you wish it would be.
As soon as you admit to yourself that…
- Yes. When you open the box, you have to eat more than 27 cheez-its.
- Yes. You secretly hate SNL and have never found it funny.
- Yes. You want to make specialty desserts instead of being a doctor.
- Yes. Your relationship is making you unhappy.
- Yes. Things needs to change.
…then you can start finding your solution. YES. This is reality AND based on that reality I have viable options for turning my YES. into my YES! Now that we’ve acknowledged the truth: stop buying Cheez-its! TIVO Modern Family instead! Get on okcupid and find someone who DOES want to be a doctor! Live fully in your current reality!
(which means that if that box of Cheez-its presents itself: absolutely indulge. Cheez-its are processed manna from heaven.)