What happens when your life starts falling apart? Do you try desperately to hold it together so you won’t feel like a failure or would you do the unthinkable, allow your whole world to crumble and alow the chips to fall where they may?
For me it happened in late 2010. I was a busy grad student working as a waitress and a customer service representative. I was nearing my final semester of grad school and I was over extended with bills, life, my sons and basically everything. I was also in counseling trying to sort things out when out of the blue, one fateful weekend, my car was taken away for not being registered properly and I lost not one, but BOTH of my jobs.
I couldn’t believe it. I scrambled to find a new job and figure out how I would make it to finish up my final internship before graduation. Just 2 weeks into my Counseling internship I was so stressed from taking buses between cities to get to campus and my internship site, not eating and going crazy over my overdue bills that I decided to simply — let go. I withdrew from my final semester at grad school and went home to figure out what to do next.
Why was my life taking such an ugly turn? What could I do to get back on top? How could I work so hard and so long to only to lose it all? My biggest fear of all was becoming a complete failure. I cringed at the thought of becoming homeless, sitting on the curb clutching a beer can and asking for spare change from strangers. Who could recover from that?
I had no clue how to stop that from happening so the thought paralyzed me daily. Since I didn’t know what to do, I did the next logical thing; I did what I loved doing most. I started a blog out of frustration and I decided to share with other women how to overcome life’s inconsistencies. I felt like a complete idiot doing this while I was going through such a rough patch but the focus on this goal soothed my soul as I looked for a job and sought answers for my own life.
Then one day it hit me. If I am truly going to teach how to be an overcomer, I need to learn how to be an overcomer in the most difficult situation. I decided to face my own fear of extreme failure by doing the unthinkable and turning it into a project to inspire women. I called this project The Rebuild Your Life Project.
With trembling fingers I wrote a letter to announce what I planned to do: I will become homeless on purpose to overcome my fear of failure and teach women how to survive losing everything.
After I sent it to my friends and family, I knew I couldn’t back down. I spoke to my sons, who were living with their father while I was in school, and told them about The Rebuild Your Life Project. My sons were shocked but ultimately supportive and so was the rest of my family. Although I had transformed a very real and dire situation into something that would benefit other women IF I survived it, it didn’t ease my fears about HOW I would survive.
As the countdown to the project began I floated through my preparations for letting go. I gave away everything that I owned, everything that meant anything to me as a way of taking control over the situation. Instead of allowing life to happen to me, instead of sitting by powerlessly as my life took a turn for the worst, I took the reigns and faced misfortune head on.
No, I didn’t fight for what was lost, desperately trying to hold on to a life that wasn’t trying to hold on to me. I dared to revamp my dream and take a new and unknown direction armed with nothing but a small bag of items and a digital camera to film it all.
On April 11, 2011, I walked out of my apartment and onto the streets where I lived with homeless people for 4 months, learning about their habits, mentality and survival skills, raising money for a rental assistance grant that I gave away and organizing and executing a job fair for homeless women. As I write this it seems like I was some kind of superwoman but going through that process broke me down and changed the way I view the world and myself.
Today I’m different. I don’t socialize as much. I’m more detached from people and things. I am no longer afraid of loss. I am no longer afraid to start over. I no longer believe in the devastating situations in life being permanent. I know what it’s like to be viewed as less than human because I don’t have a home. I know what it’s like to feel the sting of complete failure.
I also know that no matter what, no one can scare me into believing they hold the key to my future. If I don’t want to be in a situation, I won’t be in it regardless of any threats of loss and doom being thrown my way.
I’m not afraid to fail anymore because I survived it once and I now have the skills to survive it again if it ever happened. Honestly, that type of fearlessness has moved mountains for me. I turned my problem into a project and I navigated my way through it. This is the baseline of every issue I will face from now on. This is the blueprint to understanding myself and realizing my dreams with no fear. No fear.