Forget the Highlight Reel. Today, I Am Bruised.

A few years ago, I thought that breaking free of my job and finally being my own boss would make me happy. Think again.

Fast forward to today, I’m my own boss, my company’s doing well, my projects are growing, and I feel free as a bird — but happiness comes and goes.

What is this madness?

It’s so common to find stories on the internet that go something like this: “I quit my job, and now I make so much money!” or “I quit my job, and now I’m so happy!”

That’s probably true for a lot of people.

Money and happiness do start rolling in a few months after quitting, but they come and go — and nobody seems to be talking about it.

We all talk about our luxurious lives and amazing projects — location independent, constant travel, amazing friends, and interesting projects.

It’s all a blur of high-fives, Facebook likes, and good times. Reality is a lot more complicated. 

The good times do happen, but they’re mixed in with the bad, as well.

  • I’m struggling to finish a project I wish would be over by now.
  • I’m not free to write blog posts because my opinions offend my friends.
  • I’m tired of measuring my success (and my identity) with a spreadsheet that charts my income.

Not everything is smooth and rosy. I’ve come to find that even a “perpetual vacation” has its bumps and bruises.

In the famous words of Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

It’s true. It’s better to be in the arena than outside of it — but nobody ever talks about how that feels.

No matter how valiant or worthwhile our struggles, nobody talks about what it feels like to be bruised, to be ”marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

I’ve been in the arena, time and time again. I’m still in the arena, fighting the good fight. I will stay in the arena, but one thing’s for sure:

Today, I am bruised. Today, I am tired. Today, I am taking a moment to wonder what I did wrong — and what I could do better next time.

Today, I am wondering when the next victory will be.

First of all, I’m lucky to have a husband that makes me lunch when I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m lucky to have a friend who will listen to my venting and ranting for hours, telling me “I’m here with you. Let’s do this.” I’m lucky to have the freedom of choice to craft a better future for myself.

I’m lucky.

My entire family plays golf. Their number one love is to play golf, but a close number two is to talk about golf. Over the years, I’ve picked up the golf lingo, and I’ve watched them exchange tips on how to improve thousands upon thousands of times.

“Don’t move your hips. Rotate your knee more. Your palm should be facing the front. Imagine you’re sitting on a chair. Lean back. Lean forward. Twist. Rotate. Go back slow. Go forward fast.”

A golf swing seems so simple, but I don’t know a single golfer that’s satisfied with theirs.

It’s hard to get it right when there are so many factors to remember at any given moment. The same happens to me on the days I feel bruised and beaten.

I’ve read countless books on self-improvement. I’ve written my own books about awareness, mindfulness, making the right choices. I’ve immersed myself in the world of “better is possible if you just choose it” — but I still make terrible mistakes.

There are so many things to consider every single day. There are so many ways to make things right — or make them wrong.

“Be picky about who you work with. Be patient. Think about what’s really bothering you. Journal. Talk to a friend. Go for a walk. Focus on the future. Focus on the present. Put things in perspective. Journal some more. Take deep breaths.”

There’s so much we can do to feel better, but the only thing that truly heals bruises is time.

No matter how bruised I get along the way, I hope I can help avoid bruises for others — including you.

We all talk about our wonderful lives, how great things are going, how far we’ve gotten — but we all still face setbacks every single day.

All I ask is that we talk about them.

I’m tired of only talking about the good times. I’m tired of not learning from other peoples mistakes. I’m tired of other people not learning from mine.

In the words of Steve Furtick: “We compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

The truth is this:

  • My life isn’t a highlight reel, though that might be what you’ve been watching.
  • My life isn’t a series of “best of” moments, though that might be what you’ve been getting.
  • My life isn’t a series of thrilling wins, though that might be what you’ve been imagining.

The best way I can think to fix my own bruises is to prevent yours.

In the future, I’ll be openly sharing some of the mistakes I made. If I’ve managed to fix them, I’ll tell you how I did that. If I haven’t, maybe you can lend a hand.

I hope we all find the courage to open up about the bruises we’ve accumulated along the way.