I often think that the Universe needs a lot of help from me to move things along in the exact direction I would like them to go. And I comply by: doing, doing, worrying, stressing, obsessing, and then doing some more. This results in me being exhausted and frustrated without a lot to show for it, and what I like to call the “I’m banging my head against a brick wall and it ^@$*^% hurts!” feeling.
After pushing very hard for a very long time with my business, I decided to use this summer to take a step back. I had been too busy doing to be mindful and deliberate about what direction I wanted my business and my writing to go in, so my goal was to do less, and see what clarity emerged from the what I hoped would be (relative) stillness.
When I stopped adding endless items to my To Do list to keep myself busy and creating extra work for myself, and eased up on my tyrannical goals, little magical things started to happen, and there was movement where before there had only been that damn brick wall. Things didn’t unfold in the way I had anticipated, but I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected ways they did. Many opportunities came to me this summer once I stopped trying so hard, and one example is particularly relevant to this post…
Several months ago, a local writer told me that she had just been asked to write for this new blog called Hip Slope Mama, so I checked it out and thought, “I would like to write for this blog.” A few weeks later I saw a stack of Hip Slope Mama business cards in a Park Slope coffee shop so I threw one in my bag, and then forgot it was there and carried it around at the bottom of my bag for months. In June, my friend Hilary McHone mentioned that she had guest blogged for Hip Slope Mama and I thought again, “That is something I would like to do.”
A month later in mid-July, I checked my email and was surprised to find a message from Hip Slope Mama herself, who was responding to an old Craig’s List post about my writing classes for women. I was like: “I totally want to write for your site!” And so it unfolded, because I was holding an intention that this was something I would enjoy doing, without pushing to make it happen or being attached to the outcome.
Similarly, with dating, I want to do everything in my power to make it happen. These days it seems like online dating is the only form of dating there is, as everyone is too busy to meet someone in real-life circumstances, and too hurried to be relaxed and receptive enough to allow that. However, I quickly get frustrated and disappointed with online dating, and feel like I’m just no good at it. When eHarmony promises to match me with men on “29 points of compatibility” and my inbox is flooded daily with men with whom I sense 0 compatibility, I want to take a very long nap. I pushed myself to keep trying, keep doing, stay positive, but I kept coming up against that brick wall and getting a headache.
Until one morning, I woke up to the relieving realization that I have no idea how I’m going to meet Him. I don’t have to be the Best Online Dater of All-Time and make a relationship happen, and meeting someone is not entirely dependent upon my efforts, like, if I go on x (eHarmony dates) then my y (probability of meeting The One) will increase by z%. I can meet my one-day husband or at least boyfriend-with-long-term-potential through online dating, or in countless other ways, in the most random of places, at the most unexpected of times. To realize that there is a certain amount of surrender necessary, with a dash of trust and a twist of faith, took immense pressure off me.
I think that, in this way, the Universe plays hard to get. When you are coming at Life flailing about with all your action and activity and working hard to make it happen, what you want stays frustratingly out of reach, on the other side of that brick wall, which, who knows, you may actually be holding up with all your frantic efforts. When you take a step back, take a breath, and create some space, the Universe takes a step toward you to fill that space. You just have to stop racing around, be still, and let go enough to allow the wall between you and your goals and wishes to come tumbling down. You have to surrender and say to the Universe, “I have no idea how this is going to happen so I am going to stop chasing after You. It’s your move.”
Jennifer Garam is a Park Slope-based writer and teacher. As the founder of WRITEOUS CHICKS, she teaches writing workshops for women with an emphasis on personal growth, self-care, and having fun, and writes the blog "One Writeous Chick" at www.writeouschicks.wordpress.
Writeous Chicks is passionately committed to empowering women to tap into and celebrate their own unique voices through writing, while promoting self-acceptance and self-trust; and to building and sustaining a creative community of women in which to encourage and support themselves & each other.