A Tolerance for Life

Not tolerance for other people (that’s a different blog post all together), but tolerance for our own discomfort. For being stuck, waiting for news, feeling uninspired. It’s about those periods in our lives when we don’t know what to do, and we feel like we might go mad because there’s nothing productive we can do to relieve our existential angst.

Most of the time we try to address this feeling by distracting ourselves or hitting the lever on the dopamine machine in whatever ways we prefer — food, sex, alcohol, drugs, Netflix — pick your poison.

And when the drug of choice wears off, or when we get sick of our own escapism and we still don’t have a way out, we get mean. Or self-obsessed. Or passive-aggressive.

Most of us are living in a state of intolerance for the discomfort we feel about not knowing, or doing, or being everything for which we inherently know we have the potential.

And instead of waiting patiently, working methodically toward opportunities or goals — we writhe and scream and stamp our feet and throw our cosmic tantrums and then settle in with an XL pizza and a remote control and try to ignore it. Or jump on the internet and talk shit about people who we feel it is safe to criticize.

But I’m thinking there’s a better way, and that way involves the least fun thing we can think of: tolerance.

Tolerance for uncertainty.

Tolerance for waiting.

Tolerance for being overlooked. Again.

Tolerance for being stuck because of circumstances you can’t control.

Tolerance for being ALIVE.

Tolerance doesn’t mean being content with where you are, or accepting the status quo. It means being able to manage the harshness of reality with grace and focus, while still doing everything you need to do in the way you need to do it to keep moving toward your dreams. Oh, and with no guarantees that anything will pay off in the way you might hope.

It means showing up every day even when you don’t think it’s worth it; refusing to dull your senses or your let your heart get hard, even while knowing that others don’t see your value. It means not allowing yourself to wallow in self-pity, or undermine the relationships you need with bad behavior because you’re not getting what you want from them right now; and doing so while everything around us tells us that we deserve better, offering us a million and one products and services to distract and divert us from our pursuit of excellence.

I don’t mean to say that we should accept being miserable all the time. That’s giving up. What I mean is: life is often miserable, by virtue of being out of our control and that’s just the way it is. The higher our tolerance for that truth, the better chance we have at pushing through the angst and uncertainty toward our own true purpose.


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