For the last 3 weeks I have been in pain, feverish, and have spent 2 weeks confined to a hospital bed. Now, I’m stuck in my apartment, with a long-term IV line (PICC) in my arm to deliver antibiotics daily to fight the infection that invaded the hardware in my surgically repaired ankle. Aside from my roommates and a few friends, my most personal interactions in a city that I love, and want to experience, have been confined to Facebook and twitter. Some would say that I’ve had one hell of a string of bad luck.
Define luck. Some people would call it a form of karma. Some people would call it random chance. Others, myself included, would say that it’s a made up belief that we use to justify the circumstances we are dealt with. One that is highly subjective and enables us to find reason when unreasonable events occur in life.
To say that I’ve had a string of bad luck would not be looked down upon by many people. To say that I need something “good” to happen wouldn’t either. To say all of this would be easy, and is something I admit to doing when I’m at my lowest points.
But it wouldn’t be true to what I believe when I’m thinking crystal clear, unemotionally, and on point. I would be lying, and partly giving up to chalk things up to luck. As a recruiter, that is financially tied to other people’s decisions professionally, there’s a saying that I truly do buy in to. “You make your own luck.” Basically, there are going to be deals that fall through, people that get fired and aren’t a fit, and better job offers that trump your weeks of work. It’s easy to say, “ahh, damn, that’s some bad luck.” But, it’s way more beneficial to get 5 more candidates job offers so when 2 of 5 fall through, you still have 3 successful placements.
Life is the same. It’s easy to sit around feeling sorry for myself right now. It’s easy to look at the scarring on my ankle and say that a “freak” infection almost took my foot, held me in a hospital for 2 weeks and robbed me of 2 months of my life. It’s easy to sit in my living room watching Walking Dead, or playing Xbox, and to look at my job, my social life, and my health through veiled, ugly glasses as they just melt away. It’s easy to explain all of these things and to do it knowing that no one would blame me if I fell into some sort of depression right now.
Luck is easy. You start chalking your successes up to random chance and you’ll lose some pride the same way you will lose accountability if you start chalking your losses up to “bad luck.” Personal accountability goes both ways.
I haven’t been the healthiest person over the last 10-15 years of my life. While, I haven’t been the unhealthiest either, I have drank too much, used way too much tobacco, and haven’t eaten the best.
I’m not saying I’ve deserved MS, the broken ankle, this infection, anything that’s happened in my personal life, or any of the other swings of the last few years. But, I am saying that they’re all explainable.
Some people I talk to have this hint of sadness and sympathy in their voice when they speak to me. I hear it over the phone and can see it in people’s eyes if they are in person. I don’t like it. I don’t need it. I totally understand that they are coming from a good place, and that they care about me. But, I don’t feel that way myself. This is a minor setback, in a series of minor setbacks. This is something that has me down, and believe me, mentally is the hardest part. But, it is also something that will not have me out.
I know what’s right when I consciously think things over. I have very few friends that have refused to throw me any sort of a pity party. They say things matter of factly, and to the point. They offer perspective and basically have told me to stop complaining, and to move forward. When I’m feeling down, this feels appalling. How can they look at this and be so callous? But, making your own luck depends entirely on this mindset.
I’m not really down. I’m not someone that needs sympathy. Using the term luck takes away from human accomplishment, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t like it. But in terms of a reality where luck exists, I’ll say it now. I have been very lucky.
I was lucky to have a doctor step in after I was in the hospital 5 days and do something about my ankle. I was lucky to grow up near Philadelphia and move to San Francisco, so that I could be near two of the best Neurology departments for MS in the world. I was lucky to have friends and family that were there for me along the way. I was lucky to have enough friends out here that I have gotten by getting out of the hospital and just getting home (and not into a rehab/nursing home). I was lucky to work for a great enough company that could keep me afloat during these times, and last year when I needed to recover from the broken ankle.
Take luck out of that last paragraph and you will see actions from others that have helped me keep going forward. The doctor’s skill saved my foot and made the MS Centers at UPenn and UCSF great. My friends effort picked me up from the hospital and visited me while I laid in that room for 2 weeks. My co-workers efforts and abilities kept my clients and candidates going at work. My families actions enabled them to be there for me in times of need.
You make your own luck, but it’s a lot easier when you allow others to help it go forward.
Here’s my promise to myself. I’ll come out of this. I’ll come out of this better than I was before. 2015 is not just another year for me right now, it’s a goal.
I want it to be the year where I start to realize how far I’ve come and start to actually feel a little proud about what I went through to get there. To do that, I can’t just “get there.” I need to make my own luck going forward. I need to keep pushing toward better things in my life, and I need to take personal accountability to choose better things for myself.
The one thing that’s been in my head over and over for the last few months, since I made everything public is how shocking it is to see how many people care. It’s rewarding to a person that has long said that I believe in humanity, that I may not have many things I hold dear, but that out of all the bad in the world, I can feel pretty strongly about the good in people.
The last few weeks, months, years have seemed to conspire to make me believe in luck, mostly the bad kind, but all they have done is get me to believe, even more, in the greatness of humanity.