GREAT PEOPLE DO THINGS BEFORE THEY'RE READY
Amy Poehler is credited with saying "Great people do things before they're ready," and although she originally said it in this video, it's also written in her book "Yes Please" and that's where I originally read it. It's stuck with me ever since; I just can't shake that quote. It follows me everywhere, every day. As someone who isn't particularly courageous (I tend to stay in situations as long as possible until I'm forced to take action through necessity or someone else finally takes action for me), her words resonated in a way I could never quite explain. A few summers ago when I was in college I was searching for a job by "pounding the pavement," an old adage of my dad's that means walking around town and knocking on the door of any business with a "Help Wanted" sign and handing them my resume, I happened into Powell's instead. If you read my Meet the Founder page, you know I currently live in Portland, and if you know anything about Portland, you know that Powell's draws you in with a magnetism that's hard to resist.
The point of this story is that every time I went outside to search for a job, instead of "pounding the pavement," I went to Powell's and read books. I would read for hours, and there's three books that still stick out as impactful from that time. One of them is of course Amy Poehler's "Yes Please," and the other two are "Bossypants" by Tina Fey and "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" by Mindy Kaling. You may have noticed a bit of a trend here - I was on a female comedian roll at the time. What struck me about those books was they all had something in common. They were all written by women who at some point felt like outsiders, and whose talents or interests didn't quite fit in with the mainstream. I can relate to this concept deeply. Every job I've ever had I've hated. I've always felt like I'm meant to be doing something else, something meaningful, but I just don't know what. Eventually I came up with The Creative Chronicle, and while it's not a paying job, it is a passion and it's been my saving grace.
I've had the concept for The Creative Chronicle in my head for months. Months. But every day I would make excuses and pretend there were concrete reasons why I couldn't start it yet, even though there weren't. There was absolutely nothing standing in my way. But all I could think of was "I'm not ready. I'm not ready. I'm not ready." Then, suddenly, that quote from so many summers ago hit me like a ton of bricks. "Great people do things before they're ready." That was the day I started The Creative Chronicle, and that was the day I stopped making excuses.
I idolize the women in these books. They're smart, funny, driven, and successful. It's never been my life's dream to be a comedian (far from it) but it's always been my dream to blaze my own trail in some way. I want to live an extraordinary life, and it's quite possible that I won't, but I'll never forgive myself if I don't try. Powell's has always been a place of reckoning for me, especially when it comes to wondering what I'm going to do with my life. I've gone in there on every occasion imaginable - when I was supposed to be job searching, when I was downtown late at night and didn't want to be outside on the streets, when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm confused. I find such a sense of peace within those book-lined walls.
It's somewhere that I've always felt at home, and I know I can't be the only one that feels that way. I associate it with soul-searching moments that can only be induced by a life-changing book. When I was younger I used to sit in the Young Adult section and dream about what it would be like to write a New York Times bestseller like "The Hunger Games" or "Harry Potter." Books and words have always been my sanctuary, and I've had some of my best moments wrapped between paper pages. What I'm trying to convey here is that if you've been dreaming about something that you've wanted to do for forever but you've been making excuses just like I did, just do it. Take the first step today. Take one tiny step and see how it feels. Because you'll never know until you try. Isn't it funny how all those old clichés from when we were kids finally make sense when we're older? There could be an extraordinary life just around the corner, and it's up to you to get up and claim it. In the words of Amy Poehler, "Step in to life."
If this inspired even one person then that would make me so happy. You'll have to forgive my sappy late-night blogging, but this has been on my mind for quite some time and I just wanted to get it off my chest. It's worth it to look at yourself and question whether you're doing all you can to reach your dreams. It's worth it to wonder, reach big, fail big, and maybe one day succeed.
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