1 : to grow vigorously : FLOURISH
2 : to gain in wealth or possessions : PROSPER
3 : to progress toward or realize a goal
I think I’m in a post stress adrenaline rush letdown. I am very grateful to have my clean bill of health, but now that I’m through “holding it all together,” I’m in my “blah” phase. It’s not that I feed off adrenaline, it’s just that when I step out of survival mode, I’m not always sure what to do with myself.
A young friend and I were having a conversation earlier this week. I say young because she is 22 (I’m 36). The job she has right now is an important one and she is perfect for the job. Her personality is bubbly, optimistic and she is very enthusiastic.
I’ll call her Lucy and I really, really like her. She is friendly and has welcomed me into her world with open arms. Lucy is working her job until she figures out exactly what she wants to do with her grown up life. She is smart, eager, and I have no doubt that whatever she chooses to do she will thrive at. This is where our conversation started.
I have done whatever it takes to survive for the entirety of my life. Just survive. Until a couple of years ago I hadn’t had much hope of doing more than that. I work and only receive enough pay to barely scrape by, but I survive. I work at a job that is less than fulfilling but it gives me what I need to survive. My car barely runs now (and breaks down every few months or so) but it gets me to the job that gives me what I need to survive. Just survive.
Lucy is at that crossroads where she realizes that she is just surviving and is wondering which path will help her thrive, not just survive. Thriving, in Lucy’s world, is an expectation. When I was 22, the thought of doing anything more than surviving didn’t even occur to me. Thriving was something other people did. Surviving was all I could do… all I was equipped to do.
I looked at Lucy, her eyes still full of possibilities and enthusiasm, and smiled. I wished at that moment I could have 14 years of my life back and know what I know now, but I’m also old enough to know that wishing hasn’t helped me get out of survival mode.
“Lucy,” I said, “I’ve been in survival mode all my life and if you wait too long, you will get stuck there.”
With her trademark exuberance she oozed, “Oh, I won’t! I don’t have a plan but I have it all under control.” Believe me. She really thinks she does. Obviously she hasn’t heard my roommate say, “Man plans and God laughs.” I digress.
Then I told her I was tired of just surviving, that really, what I was doing wasn’t bad necessarily, but it just wasn’t what I felt I should be doing, and it definitely wasn’t going to help me thrive.
And thriving is what I desperately want to do.
While Lucy and I continued our conversation, I actually started to feel like my survival mode was about to kill me, but I didn’t feel all that hopeless about it. I told Lucy I had turned a corner in my life where it wasn’t just enough to survive but that I’d been doing it so long I didn’t really know what to do with myself.
So I’ve turned a corner. That felt great. And then I immediately saw a crossroads just beyond it.
Lucy bounced away from our conversation, still having it all under control and still convinced she’s not yet stuck in survival mode. Good for her. I hope it all works out the way she’s planned, though I know it won’t… but I also know that can be an incredibly wonderful thing.
I’m off to examine the directions leading from this crossroads. I’ll let you know how it goes. What I do know is that survival mode is in my rearview mirror, and as it gets farther away, I feel that much better.