Self doubt feels like a constant presence, doesn't it? I mean it. Is. EVERYWHERE!
Like when you want to try a new hobby and that little voice tells you, you won't be any good at it. Or when you're finally given that big project at work—offered a chance to show your boss your stuff—there's a little voice in your head that likes to ruin it for you.
And there's a whole slew of things that voice/your brain can pick from, isn't there? Like that one time, in fifth grade, when you totally froze while you gave your first speech. Or that other time, at your first job, when you totally screwed up the register and your boss had to come bail you out in front of customers. You're just a constant failure, aren't you?
You're probably guilty of this: saying the cliched phrase, "Everything happens for a reason."
I know I am.
And then I'd go about my life, figuring that whatever lesson said person needed to learn was being learned. So good for them.
Of course, these words have been uttered to me before. And they were always mildly annoying. Because maybe it doesn't happen for a reason. Maybe it's just the way the pendulum is swinging.
But I shook the words off, knowing the person's intentions were good. And the "bad" thing was always small enough that I could convince myself there was a lesson in there somewhere.
So then I lost this house I really wanted. And I didn't lose it because my offer wasn't in first or because the owner didn't pick me. No, I lost it because I was a freelancer. And because I wasn't able to prove my income.
And there were ways I probably could have gotten approved through a different bank. But my rate would have been on the brink of insanity. And that was stupid. So no.
So as you can imagine, this all really pissed me off. Because I made a damn good living as a freelancer. I worked my ass off every single day. Hustling. Meeting. Greeting. Working days, nights, weekends, vacations—whatever it took to build myself the kind of life I envisioned. Because I am not an 8-5 person. I'm not even a 6-3 person or a 10-7 person. I just need...freedom. To be my absolute best. Maybe I work at 4am. Maybe I'm wide awake at 10pm. Maybe I want to take the dogs to the park at lunch. I need to have that choice in order to do what I do well.
And my best cost me the one thing I had always wanted: my own house.
So I did what any logical person would do. I tried to be logical.
I needed two years of W2s to prove I was worthy of home buying. And I searched for a job that would give them to me. Never mind that the job I took paid me less than I'd been making as a freelancer. I swallowed my pride, said "bye" to most of my clients and bought a new wardrobe.
You guys, I despised nearly every. Single. Moment. Of my time in corporate America. I hated that I was going against my heart. That I was fighting a stupid fight, trying to earn something I was already worthy of—even though the big guys, the ones that run this world, said I was not.
But slowly I got used to the regular paycheck that was always the same amount. To the benefits that were a luxury like eye exams. To forcing myself awake and making myself lie still in order to sleep. To saying goodbye to my dogs in the morning, knowing I wouldn't see them again until 6—if I was lucky.
I stopped writing books.
I stopped cooking.
My depression bowled into me with a long held-at-bay vengeance.
It might surprise you to learn that even after we got a house I kept working for big companies.
Because by this time it was habit.
And I'd forgotten what it meant to trust in myself. Forgotten that I was worth so much more than what I was being given.
But then something happened.
One day I decided to let go.
It wasn't easy. I actually gave myself a pep talk in the bathroom mirror that morning. Something along the lines of, "Alright, Janda. You are intelligent. You are a great writer. And you can get through this."
And wouldn't you know...I did get through it.
It wasn't pretty.
And it wasn't graceful.
Mistakes were made.
But once I let that shit go I found many things that were ruffling my feathers to roll off my back. Until eventually I was set free. To a point where I left corporate America and returned to the great wide world of freelancing.
With the blessing of my husband and dogs, of course.
And I have to tell you: I have no idea what the freaking lesson here was.
I love our house. But I loved the one I lost, too.
I was a good (not great but pretty good) writer before I went back to full-time. I am a good (not great but pretty good) writer still.
I value time with my family—but I did before all of this went down.
What's the lesson, here?! If everything happens for a reason then why did all of this happen?
Maybe I'm searching too hard. Or maybe there was no lesson at all. Perhaps it's not necessarily a lesson we take away but the journey that got us here that we're supposed to pay attention to.
Whatever the case may be, I do know one thing: the next time I have the urge to tell someone it all happens for a reason I'm just going to keep my mouth shut. Because maybe it doesn't.
Or maybe it does.
I'll tell you once I have it all figured out.
Allison Janda is a self-published author. She has three dogs, one of which acts more like a cat.