DESIGN YOUR LIFE: erin of just one week

This week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE participant was selected in a rather unusual way. I first learned about Erin, her blog (Just One Week), and her story based on her comment she shared last week on Ashely’s Dream Report Week Three.

After reading about her life, I knew she would have a lot of insightful intentions to share. Boy was I right! Take a look below at some of her intentions. I can honestly say that I relate to so many of her experiences, as I’m sure you will too. And I am now taking stock of my own life and determining whether I have any “creep” areas that need attention or observation. Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Erin of Just One Week

Don’t Creep, Decide.

When we first started dating, my husband told me that the thing he most fears is creep.  He defined creep as the act of moving from one thing to another without conscious decision.  He told me that he thought creep was the reason people were unhappy in relationships and unhappy with their careers.  He described friends’ relationships that creeped from casually dating, to long-term dating, to living together, to marriage – all without conscious decision making.  The same can be seen in people’s careers – you are miserable in your job, but you keep getting promoted or it is too difficult to leave, and so you stay and creep along.  You simply move on to the next expected step without actually deciding to make that step.  Needless to say, there has been very little creep in our relationship.  Before we moved in together, my husband initiated conversations on chores, fighting, parents, etc. all before moving day; but that doesn’t mean my entire life has been free of creep.

People Will Support You

When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to become a doctor.  However, after two years of pre-med classes in college, I was passing but unhappy.  And yet I continued to creep from semester to semester.  I started to realize that my roommate would talk incessantly about her classes – she was passionate and interested in what she was studying – whereas I could barely tolerate my courses.  One night I stayed up until 6am writing my parents a letter discussing the reasons why maybe, just maybe, medical school was not the right path for me.  I called them  and read the letter the next morning.  To my shock, my father congratulated me on my decision (I didn’t know I’d made one!) and my mother expressed relief that I was changing my major.  Walking into the dean’s office that afternoon to drop my classes and change my major was exhilarating; I realized that I could control my life.  So often when we are wrestling with a big decision, we negatively (and inaccurately) anticipate other’s responses and judgments, which hinders us from making the right decision for us.  I remind myself that people WILL support me and don’t let fear of judgment (often unfounded fear) paralyze me.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Changing my major empowered me to look at other aspects of my life.  Well into my second year of college, I was terribly self-conscious and quite uncomfortable in my own skin.  In my homogeneous group of friends, I felt like I stood out – in the wrong way.  I’d always wanted to become more confident, but I didn’t know how.

Like most college campuses, while walking to class there are several student organizations looking for members or soliciting attendees for their events.  One night, I passed a friendly guy who was looking for people to join a Step group.  According to wiki stepping or step-dancing is a form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps.  I told him that surely his group did not want an albino (Chicago winters are rough!), rhythm-less, awkward girl in their group.  He persisted, and I signed up.  I am a square with very precise ninety degree angles – if I sign up, I show up.  And so I became the sole white female in an African-American Step group!

If I felt self-conscious and uncomfortable before – my first day of Step practice quadrupled that feeling.  I was the only white person.  I was the only non-practicing Christian (they prayed before and after practice).  And most awkwardly, I was the only person who could not dance.  (It required several glasses of anything before I’d even dance at a crowded frat party).  But everyone was incredibly nice (people WILL support you) and with each practice I felt more and more whole.

After several months, it was time for our big show.  I had to tell my roommate that I’d joined a Step group (she kept walking in on me as I was secretly practicing in our room) but I’d hidden the group from everyone else.  My roommate wanted to come to the show and wanted to bring our friends.  I protested – claiming that I didn’t want our friends (who are predominately Jewish) to be offended by the overt Christianity of the show.   My roommate could see through my lame excuse and knew that I was worried that our (incredibly kind) friends would laugh at me or judge me.  My roommate knew that People WILL Support You, and so as I stood on the wings of the stage, I could see that my entire family had come into town and they were sitting with several of my sorority sisters.  And they did support me, and they still do.

It is not realistic (nor healthy) to spend your entire life stepping outside of your comfort zone.  A comfort zone is NOT a bad thing.  But every couple of years I try to do something that really challenges me and targets my weaknesses.  Psychologists use exposure therapy to treat phobias.  If you are exposed to something that you are scared of, and survive, it is no longer as frightening.  Dancing, sober, on stage, without music, in front of hundreds of people – I was scared.  And I survived.  Stepping outside of my comfort zone gave me confidence in myself and in my friendships.  It woke me up.  It invigorated me.  I haven’t Stepped (nor been on stage) in the 10 years since the show, but now I dance all of the time – even when sober!

Embrace the Present

People often declare that either high school or college were the best years of their lives.  I find this incredibly depressing as it shouldn’t be all downhill after 22.

As I left college and entered “the real world,” I inevitably encountered some trying times with bad jobs and bad relationships, but I would try to reflect on my mother’s habit of embracing the present.  My mom has always had distinct reasons for thinking that whatever age she was at was superior to any she’d yet experienced.  She would say that her 20’s provided freedom, her 30’s provided stability, her 40’s provided money, and her 50’s have provided time (presumably to enjoy her freedom, stability and money!).  She has always loved birthdays, celebrating each year with great fanfare.  She never lies about her age or complains about “being old.”  She has given me a great gift in that while I may mourn the passing of time, I do not mourn the fact that I’m aging.  Besides, it would be a waste of time (of the present) to fret about something that is inevitable.

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  1. Annie

    These intentions hit really close to home– I can’t wait to start implementing some of them in my own life!

  2. Susan

    I loved this one! Erin has been blessed with an incredible ability to really express herself clearly and she certainly has a wisdom beyond her years 🙂

  3. Kelley

    I’m bookmarking this! This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I’m about to take a pretty big step out of my comfort zone – apply to grad school – and it’s scary. But I know my family and friends will support me, like Erin said! Thank you!

  4. beki

    Oh my gosh, I’m a creeper!! Hmm, I wonder which is worse, being a creeper or creepy (ha ha!). I think I need to start making some decisions, asap.

  5. I love Erin’s post. She’s one of my favorite bloggers and I’m so glad to see her here!

    The concept of “creep” hit really close to home for me. I’m trying to make some big decisions about my career and wonder if “creep” is holding me back. Thanks for sharing, Erin.

  6. Heidi Lyn

    “Creep” is fantastic! I love it and think you’re a lucky, lucky girl for marrying a man who lives by that concept.

  7. Jadyn

    Very thought-provoking. It is so easy to be a creeper! Now there’s a word I’d never thought I’d use to describe myself! I’m a champion at going back and forth on things and this reminds me once again of the power of getting clear, something I try to work on constantly but let slip so easily.
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. ami-lee

    Awesome post! Everything she says is so true…and simple! Great advice for life 🙂

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