Justine Aksoy is the Founder of Feast and Banquet, a site dedicated to women embracing their true potential. This is one of two pieces we will be sharing from Justine!
I was in a place of WTF is going on with my life and deep depression; which is a horrible combination, and a horrific place to be in. I was so depressed, that the days were melting into one another. I started contemplating drinking in order to stave off boredom, but my ego was too strong. Let’s face it; becoming an alcoholic at the age of thirty is not a good look. At this point in time I hadn’t had a stable job for 3 years. I had the occasional internship, I was even a “partner” at a film festival, but I was having trouble finding and obtaining a more permanent situation. I would fill my days with lots of meetings, coffee dates, interviews, and plenty of email exchanges that led to nothing. I was beginning to give up on life. The loser feeling had subsided; I had officially become a full on failure. Failure at life, failure at being a productive human, failure at being a good spouse, and let’s not forget failure at being an “adult”. Every morning I would wake to find my heart and mind filled with dread. “This shit again?” I would promptly ask myself. Yes, this shit again. Another day, another moment to feel like I have nothing to add to society. Every once in awhile I would pretend like I was taking life into my own hands. Sending out resumes here and there, going for runs; pretending like I was taking life on like a boss. Telling everyone I was fine, but too afraid to admit that I was dying a very slow death. I felt like a total and utter shit. It was clear I was headed down a path towards destruction, and I wasn’t the only one who took notice.
Unfortunately my dear husband began to express his concern over the lack of enthusiasm I was giving my job search. He could tell I was starting to get discouraged, and was on the brink of giving up all together. He was right, who wants to look for a job when they feel like no one wants them, or they have nothing to give. It’s a downright shitty feeling when you’re basically expressing to the universe that you don’t deserve happiness. Thank God the Universe doesn’t always join your pity party, so it might miss those little details like "I can’t go on". In the end my husband basically told me that it was time for me to pull my own weight, he didn’t care how, but it needed to happen… and guess what, he was right. So I pulled myself together, set my pride aside, and sent an email to an old friend I had worked with at an ice cream shop, and practically begged for a job. When I hit send, I felt a small amount of stress melt off of me, and it felt good. I could see a door shutting, as a new one automatically opened. When I received her answer, basically welcoming me back with open arms, I was stoked! I was ready to take on this new adventure, but it wasn’t ice cream cones and unicorn farts from there, cause you know ego.
My ego is loud. I like to pretend that I’m above it and better than it, but that is never the case. She started to scream, and scream loudly. “What the fuck are you doing? You left that place for a reason. You’re supposed to be moving forward in life not back”, and like a dumb ass I started to listen. Yea, yea you’re right! I’m too grown to be scooping icecream for people, what am I doing? Please note I had this attitude before I even started my first shift, so I was already feeling salty about a choice I had made the day before. The ego can be life draining, causing you to rethink and second-guess steps you’ve already taken. It creates an elusive dance, back and forth, giving you the sensation that change is happening, when really you’re just caught in a never ending loop of indecision. In the end I decided to go through with it. I rode my bike to work, clutching my teeth with every pedal. What the hell was I doing? I am taking a major step back; I’m supposed to be working at some posh job, at some posh company, making posh money
Walking through those doors brought a rush of emotions. I was embarrassed, excited, sad, curious, downtrodden. The first shift went off without a hitch, and at the end of the day I was handed a decent tip. I thought to myself “this isn’t too bad after all”, and that became the consensus. Minus a few unruly customers, and coming home late at night, I can honestly say that experience had been good for my psyche. I had some money in my pocket, I had something to plan around, I even lost weight, I was a happier person, and it actually created the space for me to want to create a future for myself.
Taking that step back had been the healthiest, and most productive thing I had ever done in my three years of not having a steady job. It had taught me that new beginnings are just a step away, and moving a few steps back can catapult you forward. It’s hard for people to think in this way.
"As a culture we have created a very linear way of thinking. You go to school, get good grades, attend a good college, get a decent education, so that you can get a good job and work your way up in order to make more money and eventually become the boss. But this trajectory of “success” doesn’t work for everyone."
I think it's healthy to talk about the pitfalls, the failures, the setbacks, the moments of indecision, and the lack of trust in oneself. There are so many roads, so many paths, and opportunities just waiting to be taken. Hell, forge your own path; it’s just really up to you."
Embrace your setbacks. So the next time you find yourself having to move back to your parents house (which I have done before by the way), go back to a job you swore you’d never return to, take that position you never wanted to take, or even work as an ice cream scooper, just remember that every setback is providing you space to take one giant step forward. And don’t worry about what others have to say. For a while I was ashamed to tell my friends and acquaintances what I was up to. I was afraid of their judgment, and sneers, but to be honest I got over that shit. It is no one else’s business what you do with your life, and if they’re too busy hating on you, then there is something that is holding them back from living their best lives. A true friend will encourage you, and support you to do what is necessary to get you back on your feet. Haters are going to hate whether you’re a success or not, so don’t let them make you feel bad for your choice, cause it's just that, your choice.
Trust that you know what’s best for you. People are going to talk, especially those who are closest to you. They’re going to have suggestions of what you should be doing with your life, or where you should be going, but at the end of the day, you are the captain of the ship! You, and only you, have a say when it comes to where you steer your life. At the end of the day it’s all about your happiness, so do you! Do you!
Don’t forget to dream. Sometimes I would get caught up in the long hours, the aches and pains of scooping and standing for 6 hours straight, the lack of sleep on the weekend, and also not having as much down time as I used to, sometimes I forgot to focus on where my heart really was. It’s easy to lose sight of why you decided to take a step back in the first place. I knew I wasn’t going to be an ice cream scooper forever! I continued to dream, but was smart enough to act with intention. Even if it's a “small” dream, chip away, and eventually the ball will roll.
All in all, it was one incredible journey filled with love, hate, self-despair, anger, frustration, beauty, hope, faith, and a whole lot of self-trust. You have to trust that you know what you need, and that you have your best interest at heart, and that this is only the beginning to an unforgettable journey.
Images: Angela Clare Design