Real Joy Actually Hurts

It can be easy to romanticize a passion or a social cause or a marriage or raising kids with tons of posed pictures and flowery words—but all such things are gritty, raw, rough, and painstakingly sculpted from our fully invested hearts. There is a lot of standing around and sweating through our shirts and seasons of self-doubt and all the frustrated parts that no one else can see. We fall in love with highlights but these were formed in the valley. Please don’t be seduced by soundbites and filtered photos and bowtie daydreams. Real joy actually hurts, but that’s why it’s real. It was carved from the best of us.

[Photo by The Ganeys Photography.]

It’s Them Or It’s Me: But It’s Probably Me

I’m quick to blame others because 99% of the time, I’m right that they’re wrong. I have these really ironclad, airtight, foolproof reasons why I have to be right. There’s no way other people could have thoughts of their own. I’ve seen every angle, I’m being fair and honest, I see what they can’t, I’m telling both sides of the story as it really is.

They’re holding me down, man. They’re making my job harder. I could do much better if it weren’t for these rules and restrictions. Once I get my own thing going, I’ll do all the things they never let me do. Then they’ll see, you know. They’ll regret not tapping into my unrealized fount of pure raw wisdom.

I think like this all the time. It’s true that they are, in fact, holding me down. It’s true that I’m set aside and stepped on; there are better things being built on my back while I do the grunt work. It’s true these people could care less for my well-being. And yes, I’m right and they’re wrong.

But — I get the sneaking suspicion that maybe I use THEM as an excuse to do the bare minimum. I have a way of doing the easiest part of the work, of slipping away from manual duties, of checking out my brain when I feel this is “beneath me.” It’s pride. It’s selfishness. It’s all the things I’m not willing to say about myself, because it’s a horrifying realization I don’t know how to confront yet.

Maybe they are right about a few things, and I am wrong about many things. And my well-being shouldn’t be based on what’s happening around me, but on the actual opportunities given. We have a way of seeing how we’re held down instead of the places we could build up. Because more than fearing failure, many times I fear success. I am a coward not because I do little, but because I’m afraid of the unimaginable possibilities of real potential for greatness.

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