I recently got one of those letter board signs that you’ve probably seen on your Instagram feed one too many times.
The type used for baby updates, engagement announcements, and seasonal messages like, “trick or treat yo’ self.” Regardless of the corniness, I caved. They are popular for a reason, and my room needed a little inspiration.
However, once I got the sign, the inspiration was lacking. What was worthy of the board? What message did I want to put out into the universe and see day-to-day? Should I be funny and slap on an amusing quote, or take a more motivational route? Being the indecisive creature that I am, I shunted the responsibilities to a friend.
“Write me something?” I asked, whilst a group of us were watching Lord of the Rings. My new friend, who exudes kindness, positivity, and charm, took to the task with fervor. When unable to find a letter, he clutched the board to his chest, not allowing a glimpse of the unfinished masterpiece to be had as he asked if the nine could be used as a “P.” Laughing, I told him to go for it—I was just happy somebody was finally putting the blank canvas to use and turned my attention back to the TV. Moments later, he said, “Alright. It’s done.”
“Do you want me to wait to see it ‘til you’re gone?”
“Nah, I wanna show it.”
With a turn, he displayed the message:
“It’s better to jump than to fall.”
A smile broke out on my face. It was a message I didn’t even know I needed to read.
Kyle was with a group of friends, including my best friend, who were visiting during their off-season of working as captains and chefs aboard private yachts in the United States Virgin Islands—tough life, I know. Being around them was like being around sunshine. They exuded optimism and “take no sh*t.” They’ve mastered the art of working hard and playing harder. Maybe it’s because they live for free, making more money than they know what to do with, whilst working in paradise.
I’ve always found that their carefree, outgoing personalities rub off on me whenever I’m in their presence. Especially now. Being surrounded by people who have their sh*t together, take care of business, and make time for plenty of fun after they’ve handled what they need to, I felt something stir inside me. Motivation and determination broke free from the shackles laid down by comfort. If they could live financially free and live a life that most people dream of, I was capable of doing the same. I just had to believe that I could in the first place.
Seeing this silly square filled with that tiny phrase got me thinking.
I thought hard about it after my friends had finally parted ways and gone off on their adventures. I was falling, and I had been for a long time.
All of my previous jobs had felt wrong for me, and yet I took them anyway. I fell into a part-time position in Barcelona that underpaid their teachers and left me living off of 400 euros a month. I fell into winery work, with no real plan for the future, which was the most fun I’d had working in years, but still wasn’t “it” for me. I fell into pet sitting this past winter and although I loved it, it left me, again, with barely enough to cover my rent. And now I’ve fallen again, into a dead-end job with no benefits, little to no pay, and false promises that things would change and I would be taken care of, which hasn’t been the case.
Seeing this sign, a literal and metaphorical sign, and being surrounded by a group of super supportive, successful friends, I realized I didn’t have to fall—I could jump and take action instead. After all, no one was going to chase my dreams for me.
Jumping is also taking a leap, risking it.
In January, I took a leap into digital marketing and had successfully found myself in social media management roles within a month of finishing the course. That was my first risk, and it paid off, but, I hadn’t landed quite where I wanted. Taking risks isn’t easy—it’s scary as hell leaving your comfort zone for the unknown, with fear in the back of your mind reminding you that it might not work out. And there is always that chance, that you might fail. But failure is part of the process. If you don’t try, you’ve already failed.
A friend put it perfectly in a Facebook update:
“There are no failures, for everything I’m realizing I don’t want gets me closer to the things I do.”
At least if you do fail, you’ll be able to look back and know that you had the gumption to try in the first place. Try, fail, and fail better next time. And, eventually, you will succeed, and all those failures will be your path to the life you’ve always wanted. The life you knew you could achieve, if you just decided to go for it.
If you’re looking for a sign to leave a bad work environment, a job that isn’t setting your soul on fire, or a life that doesn’t make you happy to wake up for in the morning, this is your letter board message reminder: