Also known as addictive personalities. Ok, to be fair, I don’t know if that’s the official definition, but it’s meant to describe people who avoid pain by using (insert any substance/habit here) to..take the edge off.
I was 24 when I had to fire my first person. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do- especially when this person is crying in front of you, literally begging you to give them their job back because they really need the money to support their family. I don’t think there’s very much that prepares you for that. Let alone at 24. And that was just the beginning- 4 years later I’ve realized there’s a million other sorts of pain and anguish you feel when you run a startup (oh let me tell you the ways).
Life in general throws you challenges, that’s not the issue. The issue, turns out, was the way I chose to deal with it. I chose to not feel pain. Just be numb. To everything. And to do that, I would make sure I would do things to take the edge off. I didn’t use the stereotypical methods (sex, drugs, alcohol, etc..) but I did figure out a lot of…out of the box ways to avoid pain (excess exercise, sleep deprivation- specifically to make me feel less). And I was pretty damn good at being numb.
I thought things were going well. I thought I had figured it out. Until recently. I discovered that you can’t just numb out pain. When you numb, you numb everything. I numbed out happiness and joy too. It’s so sad and pathetic when I write it out but…I honestly did not know how much I was numbing out until I went out with friends this past weekend, and I realized what I was missing out on. And the reason I was missing out on life was because of how I chose to deal with work.
Turns out it’s a habit. If you get into the habit of being numb, you forget how to feel. You forget how to make genuine connections with people. You forget that you’re allowed to do that.
So today, I took my first step. I had to do some pretty tough things. (As per usual, I suppose). But instead of being numb, I actually faced the pain. I looked it straight in the eyeballs, acknowledged its existence, and then…let it make its way out of me. It was actually pretty incredible, in a weirdly existential way. It was way less scary than I thought it would be. Surprisingly. And for the first time in a long time, I actually felt…alive. In a weird I have faced fear and survived sort of way.
Who knew that facing pain would actually make me feel…happier?