decision making, girl scout cookies & gold huntin’ shepherds
one evening a few months ago i got a call from my friend brooke. brooke always has a way of telling me things i need to hear when i need to hear them. on this particular day what i needed to hear was where in nashville you could buy girl scout cookies. i answered the phone & without saying hello brooke goes “walmart on thompson, get here now, girl scout cookies.”
10 minutes later i showed up, we bought girl scout cookies & then almost out of guilt decided to go get dinner because eating girl scout cookies on an empty stomach (and as many as we were planning on eating) would probably cause us to go into diabetic shock.
as we sat down at dinner and i was listening to her talk about what was going on with her life, she suddenly stopped mid sentence and said, “no, wait, you always do this. you ask all these questions but you never talk about what’s going on with you. i never have a clue what’s going on with you.”
the thing i like about brooke is she keeps me on my toes with what she says - there’s no filter & it’s very unapologetic. however when she speaks, i know it comes from a truly genuine place. it’s one of the things i admire about her & is probably a big reason i consider her a friend.
i shrugged it off, and said “nothing really, same old same old.” she called bullshit and after a bit of prodding, she got to the point. i told her that i felt pretty conflicted over a major decision in my life that i knew i would soon have to make. i felt very torn because on one hand i didn’t want to make the decision because i felt that i had a responsibility & loyalty towards keeping it alive but that i saw an expiration on it that i didn’t want to admit. on the other hand if i made the decision i’d be faced with a lot of uncertainties and risk but the upside could be potentially very rewarding and fulfilling. closing one chapter meant ending a chapter that i really liked, a story of myself that i was proud of. opening the other one was something that seemed obvious on paper but i felt conflicted on what closing that chapter would signify or if i’d regret it later. after listening & feeling like i was pointlessly gushing, brooke finally said, “looks like you’re at a cross roads. you know, you’re the only one that can decide what you want to do with this, but 10 years from now this is either the story of the toughest decision you ever made and how it led to the greatest success you ever had, or you just won’t have that story and you might be bitter. there’s this book i think you should read, i’ve told you about it before, but i think it might help you with this decision.”
she told me of this book “the alchemist”, which truthfully she had told me about over a year ago & i still hadn’t read. so naturally she was a bit skeptical that i would actually follow through and take her advice.
last night i finished reading a book that i promised i would read months ago. if we’re being honest, i actually read 80% of it last night, but the point is i finished it.
if you’ve never read “the alchemist” let me give you the cliff notes version. because like me, you probably won’t read it for a year either. the story follows a shepherd who has a dream of finding buried treasure under holy land - in the dream he feels this location is at the egypitan pyramids. a gypsy he interacts with tells him this is his pesonal legend (i.e. dream) & that everyone has a personal legend & some people chase it while others don’t. chasing the legend doesn’t mean it will come true, but not chasing it will guarantee it won’t. over time, the shepherd takes many different jobs and interacts with many different people. he falls in love, finds riches & finds many things he enjoys - but none satisfy him the way achieving his personal legend would. all these experiences take him closer to his personal legend and at times he wants to give up as the path isn’t that easy & the decisions aren’t so black & white. when the shepherd eventually gets to the pyramids, he digs and doesn’t find the gold. he’s eventually attacked by men who think he’s found treasure. he tells him his story & upon realizing he had no treasure, they mock him. before leaving the attackers make fun of him by telling him a story about treasure buried in spain at a church that no one had ever found (in what just so happened to be the exact place where he first had this dream). he goes back to spain & he finds the treasure. had he not taken the journey that led to many ups and downs, he would have never fulfilled his personal legend that was under his nose all along. and as the story ends, he’s off to start a new journey, this time returning to the woman he fell in love with along the way & was waiting for him to fulfill his personal legend.
i reflected on all the things i consider accomplishments in my life. most of them came after a great deal of struggle on my part and only happened because i was eventually willing to close a chapter that at the time felt entirely unnerving. opening myself up to failure in a way allowed me to see possibility. and with that possibility i took what i had learned from my previous experiences and i exceeded what i thought was possible.
the point is the book was incredibly helpful and like brooke, it told me what i needed to hear when i needed to hear it. it made things more clear & helped making an incredibly tough decision one that i’m confident will ultimately be the right choice for me and what i want to accomplish.
i just wish we bought more girl scout cookies that night at walmart, because i ate all 4 boxes that night. because i’m fat and know a good decision when i see it.
You know who you are. You know what this is. And don’t pretend you don’t. We do what needs to be done and we don’t question why. We put the personal to the left. Doesn’t matter who gets hurt. Doesn’t matter what gets broke. It’s not the thing that needs fixing, it does not matter. You want to cry about your feelings? Hmm? Really? Here? We don’t get to have feelings. That’s the job. Gladiators don’t get to have feelings. We rush into battle. We’re soldiers. We get hurt in the fight we suck it up and we hold the line and we don’t question. And you know it, Abby. — Harrison Wright from Scandal