You know how in those cartoons sometimes, you always see Tom start to run after Jerry and then pause for a moment, only to see a "Devil Tom" appear on his right shoulder and an "Angel Tom" appear on his left?
The "Devil" is saying, "Hey Buddy, go chase after that mouse. He looks mighty tasty. You know you want to, go do it!"
While the "Angel" is saying, "Don't do that, Tom! Jerry has never done anything horrible to you, and you guys should be friends, not enemies."
As fanciful as those cartoons are, that depiction has been pretty true to life when it comes to how my thought process runs when I hit a bump in the road that I have (or haven't) seen before.
For instance, this recent idea of finally being fed up with banking and looking for a new job.
Every night, at the end of the day, I'll be sitting at home, wholly exhausted, my head hurting, and thoroughly disgusted with the lack of accomplishment I get from working at a bank, and all of a sudden, the "Devil" pops up on my right shoulder whispering into my ear: "Hey, hey, why are you thinking of getting a new job? I know you're unhappy with this one - but what if you're not qualified for anything else? What if there's a paycut? Wouldn't you rather be miserable in your life and wealthy than to be a little bit poorer and happy? And you know that the first job interview you go into your going to sink and sink hard. Plus, this boss here doesn't like you that much anyway and would give you a horrible reference if they called her."
And for some reason, I start listening to it. And I start freaking out. I'm thinking, 'yeah, yeah, that's right. I should just stay miserable. I'm too scared to do something else. I am too chicken sh-t to try a new profession even though I know I hate this one.'
Just then, the "Angel" pops onto my left shoulder. "What are you talking about? All anyone ever says is how professional you are, and how friendly you are. Everyone always says how much they like you - you've always gotten good reviews in the past. You know you're a quick learner, and you love learning new things. A new experience could be awesome for you. You never know! This could be your chance to find out what you love doing."
But I start battling back and forth between the two voices of reason in my head. There is a part of ethical logic that reaches me, and I kind of acknowledge the fact that the positive "Angel" is probably the one that I should be paying the most attention to. Yet no matter how hard I try to fully shut her up, the "Devil" on my other shoulder keeps talking. Keeps reminding me of all those negative thoughts, all that negative energy, and all those horrible memories I have in the past of failure, or not measuring up to what I wanted, or what I thought others wanted (another terrible thing that I must admit, I have allowed myself to be influenced by in the past: the thoughts and opinions of others).
One of my favorite quotes from one of my all-time favorite movies (Pretty Woman) is when Julia Roberts' character is lying in bed with Richard Gere's and they are facing each other. He starts to compliment her, and tell her how much potential she has in herself, and how she could be so much more than just a prostitute.
Her response is: "Somehow the bad stuff is always easier to believe. Have you ever noticed that?"
Yeah, I have. Throughout my life, no matter what I know that I will come out stronger and with more determination out of any obstacle - but in the beginning, the mean stuff, the negative energy, the negative thoughts: they always seem to be the easier ones to believe. Why is it so hard to truly believe that there is good in the world and that good can come to you?
I have been told by so many teachers in my life whether it be in elementary, middle or high school that you are what you think you are. "If you think you can do it, then you can do it." I always used to just brush it off. Psh, they are dorky teachers - what do they know?
And then as I got older, I realized that mindset played a huge part in my ability to see the true scope of things. The more negative life seemed, and I allowed it to seem that way, the more negative things tried to happen. The moment I started to smile or shine a light on the more positive things in my life, nothing just miraculously got cured or changed - but I was able to deal with the sh-t in my life with less strife and less anger.
This is way easier said than done, folks. Don't think I am sitting here claiming that I have all the answers, for I have not. And I know there is so much of life out there for me to grab with my two bare hands and grip with all my might. To really taste, touch, see, smell every single thing this universe has to offer me. But even still, I have my dark days, and even still, that "Devil" seems to appear on my shoulder every time.
So I decided that I shouldn't let fear guide me. Essentially, I realized, that's all the "Devil" represents. An inner fear that stems from a past memory, a present thought, a futuristic notion that something might become a catastrophe and then where would I be? Well, I'd still be alive. And that's really all that counts in the end, right? Because in the end, I don't get to take my resume printed on nice stationary into the grave - it won't matter that I got a C+ in Algebra my sophomore year or whether I was my boss' favorite. It won't matter what I wore or didn't wear. And it certainly won't matter what jobs I ever held.
That's why I started my fresh start with a single piece of paper towel. Any kind would do. Didn't have to be Bounty or the cheap Target kind. It didn't have to have the puffy "extra-absorbant" squares. Just one single piece of paper towel.
And then I grabbed a pen and began to write every single negative thought I could possibly think of. (Believe me, I wrote small.) Anything that I felt was holding me back from getting a new job. Things I felt were holding me back from attending a four-year universities. Reasons why I thought I shouldn't move to wherever it is I would want to move. All the obstacles that I could possibly think of in achieving my ultimate goal this year of owning a car.
I wrote it ALL down. Every single thing that I could think of that ever passed through the deepest cavities of my brain and tried to infest it with negativity.
There were tears. A lot of the words got blotched out. But they weren't meant to be read clearly - it was simply the act of writing them all down and trying to rid myself of all of the negativity in my life as much as I could.
The final act:
I walked into my bathroom, and stepped to the "Magnificent Negativity Disposal Machine" (otherwise known as the toilet) and dropped that paper towel right in there. (Now I know they say you shouldn't throw paper towel down there or you'll clog it, but it just so happens that I have a very very strong flusher!)
Then I pulled the latch and watched all the negative energy flush itself down the toilet bowl.
As I walked away, that "Devil" was cussing up a storm on my shoulder while the "Angel" was standing triumphantly. So I just 'flicked' the "Devil" away, and gave a 'pat' to my guardian "Angel".