Sure, I’ve felt powerless.
I’ve collapsed in my father’s arms exhausted and defeated as my business and livelihood crumbled around me. I’ve laid on a bed and slammed my eyes shut as a guy stood behind me holding my face down and telling me to “just take it.” I’ve sat cold and silent in an apartment wondering how I let my life spin so far out of my control as I became resolute in the decision (three years too late) that college was not for me. I’ve cried myself through half a box of tissues alone in an Indonesian hospital room after a doctor removed my bandages to show me the mangled and sewn together remnants of my knee after emergency surgery.
Somewhere in my mind, as I fell into these dark places trying to shut out reality, I knew that they were but a moment in my life.
They too would pass.
I don’t know when it started exactly. I like to think I can pinpoint it back to when I was 4 years old and desperately wanted Raspberry Fluff (a New England marshmallow sandwich spread) from the local market. They were sold out.
After one extremely heated melt-down in which I went forty-shades of Veruca Salt screaming “I want it NOW” I was dragged out of the market by my now forty-shades of embarrassed grandfather. He pulled me up in the parking lot by the shoulders and looked at me.
“Do you want Raspberry Fluff” he asked, trying to muster what I’m sure was the last resounding bits of unconditional love his wearied patience had left.
“Yes” I sniffled.
“Can you ask for it like a big girl?”
I cocked my head to the side. Wait. All I have to do is ASK for things I want and I get them? “May I please get Raspberry Fluff?”
“They don’t have any here. We can’t always get what we ask for when we ask for it.”
He reached down with his two-fingered hand and I lovingly grasped onto one of the nubs as we walked silently back to the house.
Later that day I was eating a peanut butter and Raspberry Fluff sandwich at the kitchen counter. My grandfather had called the store and offered to pay the stockboy $25 to drive to the next town over during his lunch break and buy a jar of Raspberry Fluff for his precious little granddaughter.
Often the things that we feel are stripping away our power are merely obstacles and challenges in achieving a greater power. The Rolling Stones were right. You can’t always get what you want.
And that’s ok.
Empowerment isn’t about instant gratification and success. It is about knowing that within us lies a well deeper than the depths of the Earth’s core. A head-first deep dive into the well will give us the strength we need to ask the questions, have the tough conversations, and discover a greater outcome than what we ever could have imagined.
We get what we need instead.
Inevitably I will pick myself up, dust myself off, set my sights on the horizon, and forge on.
Beside every valley there grows a peak.
Elisa Doucette is a freelance writer & editor who travels the globe creating compelling content and looking for irresistible stories to tell while making words sexy. You can find out more about her writing and editing at ElisaDoucette.com or stalk chatter with her on Twitter.
So many personal development conversations revolve around empowerment. But there are so many definitions of it. I think there are two main categories:
Some people define it, as you have here, as being more about your inner feeling.
Other people define it more practically, as actually have the power to make certain things come about regardless of how you feel about it.
Which definition we are living by will make a big difference.
Angela Wheeler says
Elisa, this is such a good reminder: Often the things that we feel are stripping away our power are merely obstacles and challenges in achieving a greater power.
It’s difficult to stay on the path you want to be on at times. Life throws all kinds of twists and turns our way. It really is beautiful to see the confidence and empowerment that can be gained when you set your sights, pick yourself up, and keep moving.