My mom brought up a phrase the other day: “Surrender the Outcome.” In many ways this is a theme that has been repeating itself to me frequently lately. It kind of started the day I gave the $10 to the woman on the streets of Seattle just before I left. I saw her with the sign begging for help long before she saw me. I watched her and saw her look of desperation, but there was no doubt that she also could have been addicted to drugs or an alcoholic or something. I knew right away that I wanted to give her something, but I checked my thought process first. I’ve seen many people I know hand money to people and demand that they use it only for food or shelter, not drugs. Naturally I didn’t want her to go buy some meth, but when I handed her the money I let go of the outcome. I detached. I did what I could and hopefully her daughter slept in a bed that night.
I’m not usually very good with this. When I would write a story at work, sometimes I would lie awake all night worrying whether my bosses would like it or whether my sources would be mad in the face of negative publicity. I never let my worries affect my story–the truth always won out, but sometimes I would make myself physically sick over the thought. It is really such a minor thing to think about and worry about.
Some things, I guess are easy to surrender the outcome. We all throw out smiles to strangers on the street every once in a while. If they don’t smile back or give a strange look or turn away the outcome affects us for only a short time — if at all.
But it becomes more difficult in other areas. When I would go for job interviews I would make myself ill the night before and after the interview until I heard one way or the other on a job — even if I had decided I didn’t want it. I was incapable of surrendering the outcome. I can only imagine what it would be like to be a parent. Surrendering the outcome of years of parenting and love seems nearly impossible.
This week I was thinking, though, that surrendering the outcome, detaching from what happens next is the only way to remain sane. I’ve heard pastors and politicians and celebrities all vocalize the importance of the outcome. But my belief is we have no control over what happens next. My dad used to say to me in school (when I was freaking out over some quiz or test) “All you can do is all you can do.” I suppose sometimes we question whether we did all we could, but I’m trying to teach myself to let go. To do my best and do what I know is the right thing and release the outcome. I can’t control it anyway.
I’ve never been big on entering contests. Yes, I have been obsessively entering contests to win a Kindle for the past, oh, year-and-a-half. But in general I skip them. At drawings at church functions or social functions I never seemed to win. One time at a women’s retreat everyone but two people would be drawn from a basket. I was one of the two. Haha. At another women’s retreat everyone got a prize. I won a haircut at a barber shop. Again haha. But I recently entered Weight Watcher’s Inspiring Stories contest. I think it is a great contest and I have no clue what my chances are at winning, but I felt a boost of self-confidence just taking the pictures, writing my story and entering. I only wish I had more words (we were limited to 400). I guess a writer always needs more space.
The prize for the contest is $5,000 for a new wardrobe, a trip to NYC and a fashion consultation with Tim Gunn.
But overall, it doesn’t matter all that much whether I win the contest or not. I can’t even believe how much I’ve changed over the past several years. I think I know where I am going long-term. I am enjoying my current job and posses more self-confidence than I have in a long time.
I was recently listening to a seminar through Martha Beck’s program and it was talking about the “everybodies” in our lives. As in “everyone will think. . . .” “everybody agrees. . .” Of course, we all logically know that everybody in the whole world doesn’t agree on whatever the subject is, but there are groups of people who form our thoughts and feelings on what “everybody will think.”
I am still not sure exactly who forms my “everybody.” I’m still thinking about it. But I do know a few. A few surprises and a few givens. What I recently realized, though, was that was what was going on with the writing I’ve been trying to do. Wondering what “everybody” will think or feel about it. Wondering whether my group of everybodies will approve. I’ve always been a people pleaser and I was trying to do so in my writing. So for now I’m going to just write whatever I want and maybe I’ll never show it to anyone, but I think giving myself permission to keep it a perpetual secret will help. Likely some will not like it if they were to read it. But I’m trying to let go and just please myself and find my own writing voice. It seems like another big change for me. Though not outwardly visible it is a change for my internal thought process.