You’ve probably read this eleventy thousand times yet it’s so worth repeating:
We don’t realize how strong we are until we’re in the thick of a crappy situation.
There. Now you’ve read it eleventy thousand AND ONE times.
Why is it “so worth repeating”?
Because when we’re in a crappy situation – aka feeling crappy – that’s when we have no choice but to step up. It’s either step up or have our souls sucked out of us – in which case, we’re no good to anybody.
And if you’re a single mom, that means our kids are missing out on the best version of us.
We’ve all been in a crappy situation at one time or another. Whether it’s a crappy working environment or a relationship that makes us feel… well, crappy… that’s a red flag that something is wrong, and we need to make a change.
I devoted an entire chapter on this in my book, SUPERWOMAN: A Funny and Reflective Look at Motherhood. If you’ve read the book, you know the chapter. It’s called if you don’t pay attention, you pay the piper.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, paying attention is about making ourselves aware of the red flags around us. And trust me. They are EVERYWHERE. In fact, ignoring the red flags is how I became a single mother.
When I first met my daughters’ father (we’ll call him Mr. What-Was-I-Thinking), the red flags were waving in my face so hard that I could – thinking back – actually feel the wind on my face. But what did I do? I ignored them. The next thing I knew I was a single mom asking myself, “What the f*ck happened to my life? How did I get here???”
Don’t take this the wrong way. I LOVE my kids. But with no financial, emotional, or parental support from Mr. What-Was-I-Thinking, life wasn’t easy for us.
I’m imagining that if you’re still reading, you can relate. So, I’m about to share the four steps you can take when you find yourself in a crappy situation – whether it be job- or relationship-related.
Step 1 – Acknowledge your feelings
Feeling crappy is a sign that something in your life is not in line with your core values. That’s a red flag. You deserve more and you know it. That’s what that crappy feeling is trying to tell you. Pay attention to it.
Step 2 – Get clear on what or where you want to be
Take a good look at where you are and compare it to what kind of job or relationship you want. Maybe you don’t even want to be in a relationship right now. Maybe you just want to focus on you and your kids. If your crappy feeling is work-related, figure out why your job sucks. Maybe you love your work, but your boss is a micromanaging dickwad that doesn’t appreciate you or your work.
Ask yourself, “What kind of work or working environment would make me feel happy and fulfilled?”
And here’s a secret. If there’s something pulling you, listen to that! We’ll call that a GREEN FLAG. It’s a sign. Follow it.
For me it’s always been about writing, and I am so damn grateful that I took the steps to follow that calling because here I am today. I get to write for a living every single day. I get to write here on this blog. I get to write books. I get to write articles and marketing collateral.
For you… maybe it’s painting – canvas or walls. Maybe it’s organizing people’s closets or garages. Maybe it’s working with numbers or working with people… baking or gardening. Listen to that calling. Listen to that green flag.
Step 3 – Make a plan
Nothing gets accomplished without some sort of plan. Ask yourself, “What are the actions I need to take to get me from HERE (crappy situation) to THERE (happy situation)?”
Then, break these actions up into baby steps. If for you this is about getting out of a crappy relationship, start putting money aside.
Important: AND DON’T TELL ANYONE.
When I realized that I needed to get out of my relationship with Mr. What-Was-I-Thinking, I opened a secret bank account and with every pay cheque, I would sneak a small chunk of money into it. Sometimes it was only $10 but it didn’t matter. Every little bit helped. And every little bit adds up quickly!
If it’s a new career path, maybe you need to take a course. Okay, so you’re a single mom and maybe you don’t have the time or money to take a course. I get it. Babysitters are expensive. Going to school after working all day is both expensive and OMG, you’re already exhausted.
In that case, break down what you need to learn and make Google your best friend. There are YouTube videos and blog posts and articles on EVERYTHING. You literally have everything you need to learn a new skill (or improve one) at your fingertips. While it’s true that you don’t know what you don’t know, the more you read up on something, the more you realize where the holes are in your understanding.
Continuously learning is an important part of a balanced life. And so is working toward something that you know will make you happy. Creating momentum is precisely what you need to move out of Crappy Ville.
Step 4 – Know. Your. Purpose.
This is the most important step of all. Whatever is calling you (remember that green flag?) is part of your purpose. This goes back to STEP 2 and getting clear on what you want. Knowing what you want is one thing. Knowing WHY you want it takes it to another level.
And this… When life gets hard, or obstacles start falling on your path (and they will!) knowing your WHY is what will keep you on the right track and moving forward.
You can do this. Why? Because you have moxie!
Oh, and guess what! As soon as you have a plan… a clear vision of where you want to be… your life suddenly has meaning and that crappy situation you’re in doesn’t seem as bad. Why? Because now you’re looking ahead, towards a better future! (Instead of focusing on how miserable you are.)
Those steps again?
Step 1 – Acknowledge your feelings.
Step 2 – Get clear on what or where you want to be.
Step 3 – Make a plan.
Step 4 – Know. Your. Purpose.
So go forth and be awesome. You deserve it! (And only YOU can make it happen.)
My mother is French and she has an expression:
Aide toi et le ciel t’aideras.
Translated, this means help yourself and the universe will help you too.
That’s not woo-woo. It’s a Universal Law. Even more universal than gravity.
Mona Andrei is an award-winning humor blogger, columnist, and author. In her most recent book, SUPERWOMAN: A Funny and Reflective Look at Single Motherhood, she shares her challenges and triumphs as a single mother as well as stories from other single mothers.
Mona is also the host of the Single Moms with Moxie podcast.
When Mona isn’t writing or interviewing single mothers, you can probably find her dancing. As a member of a competitive hip hop team, she likes to think that she’ll stay young and cool forever. She may be delusional.
Awesome post, Mona! And very, very right.
If you can once get your direction and your purpose sorted out, all the world is an orchard! (I love orchards!)
Susan McCorkindale says
Great advice and beautifully put!