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Discomfort is the New Happy

I have changed my life, not once, but dozens of times. I have reiterated myself. I’m going through a moment of reformation now, actually. I’m becoming a dog trainer, committing to it. Just typing those words makes me uncomfortable, even embarrassed. I am embracing a new obsession with the uneasy assertion that I will succeed and that, in the end, I will be something new. It freaks me out. What I am really learning is how to stay productively uncomfortable, which I sense is the key to happiness.

I was the youngest girl of seven children. I was never programmed to lead or invent, to persevere, to finish, to move up, to act in spite of imperfect work, to speak with authority, to predict, to risk, to fail. I am programmed to dream and to consider, to plan and polish. So, it's not just the dogs who are getting trained. We both, the dogs and I, spend a lot of time looking confused, sometimes doing things that excite us, more often doing things we'd rather not do. Then, after a lot of back and forth, there's that point of relaxation as the new situation morphs into the typical one. Everyone looks a little happier, easier than they did before the change. Eventually it feels like this is who we've always been.

Every time I go through a reboot, in the end it comes down to doing what does not come naturally. Until it becomes natural. So every moment feels awkward, wrong. But if I look back at who I was in each decade, I see that each bumbling surge of work, each iteration has become a true upgrade. I still struggle, of course. I am struggling now with issues I can trace to kindergarten (seriously, kindergarten), but it’s those purposeful, graceless exertions that made me more able to create, survive, produce, help out, and adore life. They’ve made and sustained the best of who I keep turning out to be.

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