Reflections on Dating Cities from the Cusp of Proposing.
I drove past this sign for the Future Interstate this weekend. I missed my own photo opportunity, whizzing by it at over 70 mph while concurrently responding to it with a combination of laughter and tears. You see, I’m on my way north, to what my sister called my “hub” when I started this adventure. I haven’t been there since 2018 and this trip is different, because when I leave, it will be to plant new roots and bring my half-decade of dating cities to a close.
It’s incredibly difficult to articulate how life changing these past 5 years have been, however as I reflect from the cusp of proposing to a new city, these 3 things stand out:
Courage is a behavior, a feeling, and a choice. Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener puts courage in a fraction, like 3/5ths. The numerator is willingness to act and the denominator is fear. Chasing our dreams, showing the world who we are, living to our values, and bringing our voice to the world, all take courage. It takes what science calls “personal courage” versus “general courage”.
General courage is how most others might view it from the outside. Personal courage is internal, comparing our actions to only our own baseline. I’ve had exponential courage capacity growth. It started in that moment when I simply stopped caring what others thought and instead began caring more about nudging my own willingness to act harder than the powerful hold created by fear. Where are you ready to expand your courage capacity?
There are many ways to “know”. EVERYONE had an opinion to share when the heard my chosen traveler lifestyle was as a strategy to identify where I wanted to live next. “You’ll just know” was their common refrain. It didn’t happen that way. It happened in a double negative kind of organic unspoken negotiation between my body, heart and mind that if put into words would sound like “well you don’t know you can’t live here and you have strongly known that about other places”.
A common thinking glitch I see often in Coaching is thinking only through your mind. Your mind is only one thinking place, and in many cases is not the most reliable. With several types of cognitive biases and brain glitches like automatic thoughts, it’s important that we become well versed in the extensive vocabulary emotions too. More so, to understand what combination of high or low energy and what degree of pleasantness equals wellbeing for us. An emotion and wellbeing roadmap called an affect circumplex.
Emotions serve a function and when we learn to hear their message and understand they are occurring in response to something important to us, they can be great sources of direction and wayfinding towards what we want, and need, particularly when our words and our mind haven’t labelled it clearly yet. What might your dominant emotion today be positively reminding you about what’s important?
You hold the universal key to every lock you face. A few days before I left my old familiar home city, a friend said to me, “if you pay attention, you’ll be given keys to the answer along the way”. She finished by reminding me keys were not only places, but people, and situations. It was sage and true advice.
Looking back on these past five years, one of the greatest lessons I learned was that there is only one key, and that is trust. Specifically, trusting yourself and trusting that you can and will figure out how to respond to whatever situation you face. Accessing that key comes from self-awareness, self-reflection and the deep work of understanding your strengths, your weaknesses, how others experience you, and the difference between your wants and your needs. It is work that pays off as once you are armed with that key, the key of self-trust, you can command your resources, your confidence and your agency to begin your own quest to the future you want to live. Where are you holding yourself back because the key to be in motion is self-trust?
Well, actually, I did propose to a new city. It’s just that I was turned down…this time, and with that particular style of proposal. A lot of people want to be in a relationship with my chosen city these days.
While this adventure isn’t over quite yet, as I reflect on it, I can’t imagine missing all the amazing moments, the unexpected the surprises, the lessons learned, and the people who are now part of the tapestry of my life. What does reflecting on your last 5 years reveal to you?
(Biswas-Diener, 2012, 2021: Pury, Kowalski and Spearman, 2007: Brackett, 2020)