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You’re never really ready. That’s Ok. Lets Begin. Or, how a pair of jeans triggered an epiphany

Greenlight and sunset

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this: a pair of jeans once triggered an epiphany for me…

Hong Kong, 2006: I was 19 years old and studying abroad in Hong Kong. I always admired the way guys dressed there. They seemed so cool and put together, like the people who pick up on the trends before they’re actually trendy.

Me? I was just some kid from the American suburbs trying to fit in with his Abercrombie shirt and ironic Mickey Mouse watch (and no, I don’t love admitting that I used to be one of those guys…).

So I told myself, “I’ll buy cool clothes when I get back to the States and I’m a bit older. That will be awesome.”

And then it hit me: being in Hong Kong is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I need to make the most out of this. Nothing will be different when I’m back in the States and older. I’ll just be upset that I waited to act on my dreams in the moment.

So I went out and bought a cool T-shirt, a white belt, and a slim fitting pair of jeans. And you know, it was pretty awesome. I felt like a million bucks. It was one of those little trivial things that end up meaning a lot.

Washington, DC 2014: at 28, my days are more mundane than you think they are. A lot of my time is spent thinking, reading, and having conversations with the people around me who don’t quite see the same world that I see.

And I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the next step is.

The next step for what? For everything. For anything. For Ignited Leadership, for asking R* to go out with me, for driving more traffic to my blog, for learning to play piano, for selling this book proposal I’ve been working on, for… whatever.

And I think back to that moment in Hong Kong. Of course, it wasn’t really about trying to dress cool. It was about life. What I realized is that my life doesn’t exist in the future. It exists only in the moment. This moment. The one that’s about to slip away. That’s where life lives.

Truthfully, I don’t feel like I’m equipped to chase my newest dreams just yet. I don’t have the confidence or experience I wish I had. And I kind of think that I might have that confidence and experience at some point in the not too distant future…

But then I get smarter and realize that unless I actually do something, the future is going to be exactly like the present. The only difference is that I’ll be pissed off at past me for not taking action when I first felt the desire.

So the options become clear: pivot the business, call the girl, post the article, sign up for lessons, and start looking for book agents.  Now. Today. Before I jump back on Facebook and dwindle the next few moments away on not quiet living the life I want to.

Will it go smoothly? Who knows. Half the time my projects go way more smoothly than I think they will, so possibly it will be surprisingly easy.

And even if they don’t go smoothly, at least I’ll be moving forward. That’s way better than watching yet another episode of How I Met Your Mother on Netlflix.

But I wont lie. It’s terrifying. It’s always terrifying. You have to let go of an old version of yourself and your life to create space for the new version.

And that’s hard. But it’s the only way. So I acknowledge the fear and the terror, sit with it for a moment, and move forward.

Because whether or not I like it, the responsibility to shape my life is mine, and mine alone.

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Photo credit: “Now Go in Peace” by Julie Falk

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8 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “You’re never really ready. That’s Ok. Lets Begin. Or, how a pair of jeans triggered an epiphany”

  1. Annie Kip September 9, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Well said, Jason! Thanks for sharing that moment with us – I know how that can be, when something suddenly makes sense. For me, it begins with a little inkling of a possiblity that begs to be expanded and looked at and just doesn’t go away.At some point, after the possiblity has wriggled itself into a real idea, I realize that I can’t un-know what I now know for sure. That feeling of clarity is invigorating and grounding at the same time. Don’t you just love it when that happens?!?!

    • Jason September 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Hey Annie! And thank you. And well said, the process of learning something important is kind of crazy for me too. It starts off as some sort of foggy tension, and it eats me for a bit, and then it crystalizes into a clear vision, and life speeds up a bit. And yeah, I do love it when that happens, it reminds me that I’m really living. 🙂

  2. Isaiah Collier September 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Jason this was great to read, I think many times we feel the same but don’t always vocalize it. So kudos to you for stepping up to fear and not backing down in cower.

    • Jason September 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks Isaiah – I really appreciate that! Yes, I think we are on the same wave length and look forward to trading notes in a few weeks.

  3. Mark Taylor September 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Hey Jason, Great article about a trial every human faces. We’re definitely on the same wavelength with this issue. I kept looking forward to the future (to college when in high school, to grad school when in college), thinking that I will have a clean slate to define myself in a group of people who don’t know anything about me. Truth be told, I am the same person I was in high school, college, and even grad school, albeit to a slightly lesser degree. I feel humans hold out for the future, basing their present actions on a hopeful future event which may never come. I’ve realized that every moment in the present is where life is, and you cannot stop living just because you anticipate an upcoming change. Thanks for re-affirming this truth for my life.

    • Jason September 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks Mark, I appreciate the kind words. I fall into that trap too. My default mode is to look forward to some vague future without actually doing anything to create it. Fortunately I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that I actually have to take action if I want to create a future that is different from the present. Glad we’re on the same wave length.

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