Ten Things To Do When Your Life Falls Apart
Yes, it’s a bit long (23 minutes) but it is totally worth the watch. For the impatient person who doesn’t care much for the schnitzels and giggles in the beginning and wants to get to ‘the message’ part, forward to 15:46.
Besides wishing I got this kind of speech when I graduated from KCL, my first thought was that I need to share this with others. Even if like me, they will not stumble upon this till years after I put it up.
As a radio and television content provider, my method of research pretty much involves a lot trawling the web for inspiration (Nigerian internet service providers permitting) and I am surprised I missed this one altogether. Though a part of me thinks maybe it is because the message wouldn’t have hit home before now? Everything in its own time, right? Conan O’Brien’s 2011 Dartmouth Commencement Address couldn’t have come at a more apt time for me.
I resigned from a role which bystanders saw as the best job in the world - on some level, I suppose I should agree with that, if only in parts. My reason for leaving was (is) very personal and is not the message for today however so, lets jog on. When I left said role, I took a leap of faith to join another platform, which promised the world and delivered their own version of it. With my employee relationship with them still hanging in midair, another opportunity came along and this too proved to be a nonstarter.
For me, the series of unfortunate events that shroud my 2009-12 have been altogether disconcerting. Even more terrifying is the huge sense of failure that has come to lurk in my darkest thoughts. If there’s one thing I know about myself, it is that there is nothing I fear more than failure. Actually, there are other things like: a double-decker bus toppling over and squashing me as it rounds the corner; walking past someone at the exact moment they decide to phlegm up & spit; being trapped underground and not being able to breathe; losing sensation from the waist down…not that I’m neurotic or anything. But failure is still one of my big 10 fears.
In the link above, Conan O’Brien goes on to talk about something I haven’t been able to explain to my ever concerned friends and family - disorientation. You see, I’ve always been the girl with the plan. Wake me up on any day and I always had: a revision plan, a weekend plan, a plan on how to grown my hair to BSL before the end of the year, 5 year career plan, a plan to plan around making better plans for planning purposes. The plan. Each plan had its own contingencies and every time I hit brick wall, I would always find a way out/around/through/under/over it. I’m a solid planner. Except solidity makes no room for disorientation.
So, there I was. Too busy being afraid of failure that I gave no thought to the equally valid and crippling power that disorientation wields. To not know what I want to do next, to not be able to tell my friends and their parents who want to help me find work what I think I should do next, to not know where to plug myself in, to not know if the time has come to book that one way ticket back to the person I used to be. Not having answers made me afraid. Afraid of looking erratic. Playing the eternal victim. Stupid. Inconsiderate. Lazy. Unambitious... lets take one part perceived failure, mix five parts disorientation with two parts fear, add a hint of ambition (or delusion of grandeur if you will) and you have the beginning of a recipe for disaster.
I’ve been in situations where people have begrudged and punished me for wanting to dream big, for wanting to achieve more, for being too trusting, for sharing ideas, for asking questions, for wanting to play fair. The knock on effect of living in an environment that I find I have spent three years in so far, is that at some point, you start to doubt yourself. You start to question your own ethics. You start to wonder if there really is a right and wrong or if you are just wholly obtuse. You start to feel like the charred pot trying to fit in a square hole. You get lost. You get disoriented. You lose sight of what-comes-next. For a planner, that is the stuff nightmares are made of.
But there is hope. In the past three weeks alone, the kind of conversations I’ve had with friends, advisors and potential investors have all pointed in one very clear direction. This is why I saw it as no strange coincidence that I would come across Conan O’Brien’s address now. Through all this, I am reminded that one’s dreams SHOULD constantly evolve. That if you can't get it done through the ‘comfy’ platform, create your own. As far removed from the high achiever that I was when I graduated, I’ve come to accept the misfortune of the past three years. As Joan Littlewood put it, ‘If we don't get lost, we'll never find a new route’. I suppose that’s what I’ve been doing all along. Where I thought I had finally hit the motherload of brick walls, what I’ve actually been doing is proving that there is no wall. Not on this route anyway.
So, I share this with you today in a bid to explain some of the perhaps not-quite-what-I-thought-I-should-expect-from-Rhecks things you are about to witness over the coming months. It’s not that I am reinventing myself, it’s that I am, for the first time, letting you see the sum of all my parts.
Oreka Godis, storyteller – using any medium necessary.
Clarity. Conviction. Individuality.