Pick your stress

A stressed woman with her hand on her forehead

We often wonder or are asked, “What do you want in life?”

Naturally, this is an important question. It’s valuable to be able to paint a vivid picture of what our ideal life looks like or what we’re working toward. But I don’t actually think it’s the most useful question if we want to know these things.

Pain, discomfort, doubt, anxiety, displeasure…These are all totally natural experiences as we go about our lives. Unless a person has achieved enlightenment, they’re a liar if they claim to never feel any of these unpleasant emotions.

I live a fulfilling life. I love what I do, have amazing friendships, am healthy, and have a number of hobbies and passions I pursue…And I experience these shitty feelings all the time.

The question most people fail to ask themselves is this:

What stress am I willing to experience?

Let me explain.

Last year, I worked my first sales job and fucking hated it. I dreaded going to work, wasn’t good at it, and would come home utterly drained and void of energy to do anything I cared about. That was stressful.

During lockdown, I quit that job and started freelancing. I had to teach myself skills I’d never tried before and ask people to pay me to do them, wasn’t good at it, and never knew where my next paycheck would come from. That was stressful.

But here’s the thing: I was super willing to take on that second form of stress. The stress from my old sales job broke me. The Resistance was higher than the value I got out of it. But when I was freelancing, the freedom I experienced in creating my own schedule and living life on my own terms was totally worth the discomfort I was feeling.

Stress and discomfort are natural constants in life. What discomfort are you willing to go through? What makes it all worth it?