Do you ever hold the refrigerator door open for way too long, waiting for something to just appear out of nowhere? And what about the times you keep going back, as if exactly what you want to eat will magically be there five minutes later?
I can still hear my mother hollerin’, as us fine southern ladies do: “Stop holdin’ the door open, yer letting the cold air out. You know what’s there. You better figure out what the heck you want before opening that door again.”
Yesterday I was walking aimlessly through the mall. You know what I mean: the type of aimless walking you do when you know you should be doing something more constructive with your time, but you have no idea exactly what. Well, that’s what I was doing. And I’d been doing it for about two hours.
Then my girlfriend called. So I asked her the obvious question, “what are you doing?”
“Holding the refrigerator door open,” she says. “I’m hungry, and I just wish something would appear for me to eat.”
I stopped dead in my tracks with instant déjà vu. I could hear my mother’s voice again, loud and clear, reminding me to make up my mind already and shut the damn door.
So I said to my friend, “well, I guess I’m doing the same thing. Only the door I’m holding open is the one of my entire life, and I’m waiting for what I’m going to do with it to appear.”
I lost my job last week. And, yes, I was at the mall.
I wasn’t shopping, but I was definitely looking. Until my conversation with my girlfriend, however, I didn’t realize that what I was looking for was nowhere to be found at the mall. Nor was it going to be found by just holding the “door” open any longer. I have choices in front of me, which, to be quite frank, terrifies me.
I’ve always had a difficult time pursuing my own dreams. I guess that’s why I ended up working in sales and development for someone else’s start-up company for the past three years. Instead of using my energy to create my own company or pursue my own vision, I worked alongside them to create theirs. At the time, it was much more comfortable for me to help someone else build their dream than to go out on a limb and chase my own. I didn’t have to go out in search of it, take a leap of faith to go after it, or run the risk of failure if I didn’t succeed doing it. There have always been things I’ve wanted to do for a living, but all I’ve ever really done was stare at them like food in a refrigerator.
I got off the phone with my girlfriend and stood in the mall for a little while longer. I thought about my vision of a writing career and of the many yoga classes that I want to teach. I thought about my time spent behind a desk for the past three years and the many hours I’ve spent day-dreaming about creating the life I want to lead. After standing there for what felt like a decade, I promised myself to stop staring, grab what I want with both hands, and shut the damn door already.
There comes a point in all our lives that we are given a choice. Maybe the opportunity for choice is something you choose, or maybe, like in my case, the opportunity is decided for you. Whatever the case may be, chances are you just wait for the next thing to come your way instead of choosing to pursue the next best thing. What about that idea or dream that you really want but are too darn scared to chase after? Do you sit back and take Easy Street again, or do you make the choice to try and live the life you’ve always wanted?
So, the question is, what have you been staring at through your life’s open refrigerator door? What life do you want to create for yourself? It could be something as simple as a planting a vegetable garden or as complex as learning a new language. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to sail and live on a boat, or maybe you’ve been yearning to volunteer your time and travel to places in need. Your decisions and choices will ultimately move you one step closer to becoming the person you truly are and the life you are meant to lead.
Sure, choosing is scary. I’m scared right now. With choice comes risk, and with risk comes the possibility of failure. But by actively choosing not to even try to live the life I’ve dreamt of, I’m risking more than just failure. I’m risking my chance for greatness, my sense of self-worth, and my ultimate version and vision of true happiness.