Take the roller coaster of life


The other week I was shopping in a store after a doctor’s appointment when my daughter called me from college. She started her freshman year this fall and like “firsts” for many of us, this ride has been full of ups and downs.

I knew she had not been feeling well physically. Now I could hear on this call that her spirit was low too.

I listened empathetically as I silently reminded myself, “Connection over correction,” a mantra I’ve been repeating to myself in my conversations with her lately.

Through all that my daughter was saying, I could hear The Three P’s roaring. That is:

  • This is personal, “It’s only happening to me.”
  • It’s pervasive“I’ve been given a bad hand in every area.”
  • It’s permanent, “It’s never going to change.”

I knew exactly how she was feeling. I’ve been a victim of the 3 P’s more than a few times in my life.

So instead of giving her advice, I told her a story about when I went to college, when I started my first job in Chicago, last month when I started a new project — and oh yes — just last week!

During all of these times of forward motion and building something new, I both hated and loved it. There were times I wanted to quit. Sometimes I shed tears. And then when it ended I was exhausted, exhilarated, satisfied, and grateful all at once. We can all count on this same cycle of feeling anytime we attempt to create something new.

Such is the process of new beginnings.

No matter how many times I create a new training, presentation, partnership, or podcast I go through this similar journey. It’s a lot like riding a roller coaster…

You decide to take the ride.

You anxiously wait in line questioning if you’ve made the right decision.

You strap yourself in because now it’s go time.

You hold on tight through the unpredictable ups and downs.

You do your best to enjoy the ride.

Similar to the roller coaster ride, when I take on something new, I can count on a few things happening. I will…

Second-guess myself.

Wonder if I’m enough.

Criticize my choices.

Feel awkward.

Scream or shed some tears.

Worry what others think.

Consider quitting.

Feel excited and energized.

Experience deep satisfaction when I am done!

Doing anything for the first time (or the first hundredth time) is unpredictable and uncontrolled and we humans inherently resist uncertainty.

But somehow when we know this cycle is normal and is part of the natural creation process, we can accept the unpredictable roller coaster ride as a universal experience. We can see that it doesn’t discriminate against age, accomplishment level, title, or experience. And it is not personal, permanent, or pervasive. In fact, our response to the ride is completely normal.

Just like a roller coaster, the ride will come to an end. Our work is to not let the ups and downs keep us from getting on the ride again — or a new ride altogether!

As I ended my conversation with my daughter I sensed something had shifted in her — and in me too. We were both calmer. In fact, as I turned off my phone having acknowledged this universal truth, I remembered I was in a small and busy boutique. I looked up and saw a group of women who had overheard me.

One woman turned to me and said, “You said it, mom, and you summed it up well for all of us.”

Here’s to allowing and embracing all the emotions on your journey, and never stopping because of them.

~ Rita

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