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Work On The Inside More Than You Work On The Outside

Work On The Inside More Than You Work On The Outside

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to talk about working on the inside more than you work on the outside. What does that mean? Well, if you've strived for a degree, a particular job, a high salary, a husband, 2.5 kids, a dog, a house with a white picket fence and you still aren't happy that means you've neglected the inside. You've spent so much time working on the outside that you've forgotten (or were unaware of) the work required on the inside. As a society, we have it all wrong. We have it backwards. When you work on the inside first, the outside stuff comes easily... and gracefully too. But for some reason we're taught that you need to push and strive and hustle for all the outside stuff and only then will you become happy on the inside. Wrong!

I observed and became aware of this early on - when I was 22 working at my first job as a paralegal at a very prestigious law firm in New York City. This was before I went to law school. All of the lawyers working at this law firm seemed miserable yet they appeared to "have it all" - a law degree from Harvard or Columbia, a ridiculously high salary, a spouse with an equally impressive degree and salary, a million dollar condo in NYC, a new baby, a fancy car, and luxurious travels. It was quite obvious to me I('m a pretty deep thinker and analyzer by nature) that striving for all the outside stuff must not be the key to happiness. It couldn't be! These people "had it all" by societal standards and I'm not exaggerating when I say they were miserable. So miserable that a lot of them drank excessively and had other addictions. It's no lie when they say the legal profession has a high rate of depression, suicide, and alcoholism. 

I allowed this observation to guide my life, but I was not without struggle. Societal expectations and the unspoken pressure from family is powerful! Especially when you are still so young in your 20's. I ended up going to a top 25 law school and taking a six-figure job at the age of 26, driving a Lexus, and renting an expensive apartment. Along the way I made some non-traditional decisions but, for the most part, I found myself falling prey to the societal "norms" in the legal profession anyways. Looking back, I realize what an internal conflict it was. I knew outside things weren't the key to happiness yet I found myself striving for them just like everyone else. Yet, unlike everyone else, I internally knew that I wouldn't become "happy" the second I checked all of these things off my list. So there was a sort of emptiness on the inside, and an internal conflict over what I wanted and what society wanted for me. Does that makes sense? Society stresses getting the best job you can at the highest salary you can, buying the nicest house you can, driving the nicest car you can, etc etc. And many people - including our parents and other family members - often reiterate the same message because it's the message they've been hearing all of their lives, too. And it sort of just perpetuates itself, with no one really stopping to think whether it (a) makes sense or (b) resonates as true for them. We just do it. Without thinking. Without analyzing. Without intentionally deciding whether there's a better way that makes sense for us individually. We just follow the crowd. We just follow all the societal and familial expectations because "everyone else is doing it."

Anyways, I couldn't keep up the charade for long. I quit my job as a lawyer after about 3 years. I knew this was not the path for me and I knew I was chasing a life and an "image" that wasn't what I wanted. This wasn't just a case of "I don't like my job." It was a deep, deep knowing that this wasn't the path for me. It literally felt like I was betraying my soul. And so I quit and started my first jewelry business! Yep, grace + hudson is actually my second jewelry business. My first was a storefront in New Jersey in 2010 near where I grew up. The economy was crashing but I didn't want to hear it and I opened my storefront anyway (this was before small businesses could afford to start online shops). That first jewelry business didn't make it and I had to go back to being a lawyer for some time as I figured things out, but it was my first step towards jumping off the fast and furious "societal expectations train" and it ultimately got me to where I am today. 

Looking back at my journey, I am thankful that I woke up so early in my career - in my early 20's. I knew chasing all the outside stuff doesn't lead to happiness, but I guess I needed to experience that first-hand for a few years. I can personally tell you that driving a Lexus and collecting a six-figure paycheck doesn't make you feel better as a person. It doesn't somehow validate you as "worthy" or even "successful." In fact, the thrill wears off pretty fast. When you strive for something, achieve it, and then feel how truly empty the achievement feels, it's...well...depressing. But, like someone with an addiction, you move on to the next achievement and start striving for that, and then the next one and the next one. Do you see how toxic that is? Honestly, for some people it truly does require therapy to work through this issue. I went to therapy beginning early on in my legal profession and I highly recommend it. 

If any of this resonates with you, my advice would be this: work on the inside more than the outside. Work on yourself more than you work on buying a new fancy car. Keep the focus on internal growth and developing into the person you're here to be. We spend so much time going to the gym, getting our hair highlighted, buying new clothes, applying self-tanner....what if we spent even HALF that time working on the inside? I'm telling you, that's the ticket. That's the key. How do I work on the inside, you ask? By reading self-development books, listening to podcasts on personal growth, meditating, journaling, having deep and meaningful conversations with the people we love, going to therapy, taking time to research and explore our given talents and gifts and how we best might use those, reflecting honestly on our unique goals and dreams we want to see come to fruition in this lifetime, working on the relationships that are important to us, learning how to become a better parent and partner, etc etc.

And you know the irony of this whole situation? This too I've experienced first hand. When you work on the inside, all the outside "stuff" shows up all on its own. With ease. With grace. And it feels so much better. For example, when I buy something I want now, today, with money I've earned through grace + hudson, it feels GOOD. Back when I was a lawyer, doing soul-sucking work that left me drained and tired in exchange for dollars, it didn't even feel that good when I spent those dollars.

So, if there's something you want - whether it be a new career, a relationship, a baby - and it's not happening for you, I highly recommend you take an honest look on the inside. Rather than focusing so much on the resume and the interviews, on swiping right on the dating app and exercising to look more attractive, on tracking your ovulation like a science and trying to conceive, start focusing more on the inside stuff. Start working on that part of the equation because, chances are, you've neglected it. The inside part is going to look different for everyone and you might need the help of a therapist to navigate it. But I can tell you it will involve taking an honest look at your beliefs, ideas, habits, and the stories you've been telling yourself about the topic you're struggling with. Those are so, so, so powerful. And you might not even be aware of them. So you're over here trying so hard to lose weight and look pretty to find a man, when really the problem is over there lurking on the inside and you're paying no attention to it. And when that click happens - when you make the shift on the inside - I swear to you, things fall into place like you wouldn't believe. You know that expression "it happened when I wasn't even trying" or "I finally met someone when I stopped looking." Yeah, that's what those common phrases are referring to.

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!


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