What If Mistakes Aren’t Black And White?

As I fumble my way into the beginning stages of van life, I’m trying to remind myself of this.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love it. I knew it wouldn’t be glamorous, but I definitely had worries before taking the leap … and go figure, those are the issues I’m coming up against most these days. The whole point of living in a van is to travel, right? Except that I’m finding that gas is achingly expensive – it cost me almost $400 round trip to take it from the Bay Area up to Portland. I knew it would be, but somehow it’s worse to experience that bank account drain for real.

I’m also realizing that I don’t particularly like driving it. Yes, there are improvements that I can make that will help that – I need a lumbar support cushion for sure, and a gas pedal extender so I don’t feel like I’m on pointe every time I try to accelerate. Go figure, captain’s chairs in 90’s vans don’t adjust. But it’s more than that – it’s just big, and unwieldy, and slow. I’m finding it tedious to be in there for even an hour at a time.

Also, as I said before – COVID. After just a couple days out on the road again, I’m finding myself yearning for the certainty of showers and bathrooms and internet and safe parking spots. All of those would be much easier to find if it weren’t for the pandemic, but of course, I knew that before I did this …

So, there are two lessons here. One, I had an inkling that I would feel this way. I’m not going to beat myself up or tell myself that I should’ve “known better”. I took a risk, and it might not work out – and that’s okay. The other lesson is that nothing is final. Yes, I made a huge change in my life, and yes, it might not have been the best call – but I did it, and it’s done, and now I can either keep trying and see how it goes, or choose something else.

Because here’s the thing – there are layers to every mistake. I don’t even like the word “mistake” because it has a negative connotation, and I don’t think that it’s ever wrong to take a leap and shift your life. You make not end up liking the choice, and you may move on to something different – but at least you didn’t sit stuck in your own complacency. That right there is a huge deal. Making decisions that move you in the direction of growth and change give you the courage to keep trying and pivoting. They also give you a better understanding of yourself, and what you want and don’t want. Perhaps they will show you what you’ve taken for granted in the past.

I sure know that I took my apartment for granted. I grumbled over paying rent, but it’s nice to know you have a home base. I fancied myself the nomad type, and I may have been wrong, or I may not have given it a fair enough shot yet. Maybe I’m just not the COVID nomad type, and I should try again in easier times.

Do you think of your decisions in black and white terms? Do you beat yourself up if something doesn’t go the way you hope it will? Do you live in the past, wallowing in regrets?

That’s the common human reaction, and there’s nothing wrong with you. But what if you tried a different approach? What if you showed yourself kindness and compassion, and allowed yourself to try something and then make changes if it doesn’t work out? If you’re constantly berating yourself for making choices that don’t end up 100% amazing, then you’ll get to a point where you’re afraid to make any leaps at all. That’s a far worse place to be.

Nothing in this life is black and white, so don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s okay to leap, to fail, to adjust, to pivot, to leap again. Eventually you’ll understand what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll be the better for it. No one grows by sitting still.

Show yourself some gentleness and love today. I’m sending you some as well. You got this. Big hugs.

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