To anyone trying to launch a business, or heck, just stay optimistic about the world, the year 2020 has really put those attempts to the test. I am one of those people, in both respects. I am trying to launch a new business and trying to stay positive despite the onslaught of wildfires, viruses, lockdowns, illness, job losses, business closures, and most recently the festering open wounds of systemic racism. And the year isn’t even half over! This is the first time in my life where I have witnessed a prolonged breakdown of normal events and routines. Outside of my four walls, nothing is truly “normal” anymore. Everything we have known since I was born is being turned on its head and questioned.
And yet, I consider myself lucky. I am lucky because I have the luxury of reflecting about these issues right now. I am healthy, so I have the energy to write this blog post. I am educated, so I can write this blog post well. I have an occupation that enables me to live comfortably at this moment to afford a computer and quiet space to put my thoughts to paper. I have white skin which unfortunately in today’s America, still gives me more freedom than afforded to my black or brown-skinned fellow Americans.
How does one balance gratitude for privileges bestowed upon you with the weight of the misfortunes that are experienced by so many others? More to the point, how do you balance that gratitude without feeling guilty? That is the way with luck, I guess. When I was conceived, the dice rolled in my favor, at least in terms of skin color, health and ambition. Some people win the lottery, and some don’t. But if you win, should you feel guilty?
I say no, but with a caveat. If you are winning at life, do not feel guilty, but do feel grateful for how lucky you really are. And then, live your life with gratitude, with an aim to raise and inspire all those around you, and promote justice in every corner of your world. Don’t just provide lip service to equality and justice, but live it, even when it is inconvenient or uncomfortable for you. Systemic change does not come about only with voting or social media posts. It comes about when all of us as individuals realize the unique role we can play as we live out our lives and interact with those around us.
What does that mean if you are looking to launch a business, or advance your career in these challenging times? I ask because I know many people out there are wondering whether they should hit the pause button on what may appear to be selfish when so many others are suffering. They live in fear of being “tone deaf” to the turmoil that is hovering over our collective landscape. I have wrestled with that very question as I wonder how to proceed. I want to be respectful of people’s pain, fear and anxiety. But, I have lived life long enough to know that waiting for a perfect time to do the things you were meant to do is just a myth or even worse, an excuse.
As a simple analogy, decades ago I spoke with family members who smoked and who vowed to quit. But, there was always something getting in their way. A family tragedy, job or financial insecurity, or some other abnormality in their life prevented them from taking action. I learned from those interactions that there will always be some level of adversity in your life. Some adversity will be more challenging than others, but there is never a time when everything will be absolutely perfect or “normal” to take action.
To honor the suffering experienced by our fellow Americans in history as well as in this present day, it is incumbent upon us who are alive, who are able, and who are grateful, to rise up from the ashes of adversity and play the role we were meant to play. If that means starting your business, or going to school, or applying for that job because it will fulfill your life’s purpose, then you must follow it no matter the external circumstances. Your internal fulfillment of your life’s purpose will be the engine that keeps our country moving forward and improving the journey for everyone who is riding along, so long as you hold steadfast to promoting justice at each step.
Pursue your dreams.
Be the change from the inside out.
The perfect time will always be right now.