The Hardest Thing About Life: Taking Responsibility

I recently finished The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*CK and the lesson that stood out the most was the idea of taking responsibility. Living in a city of 8.6 million people, it’s been easy for me to blame things on others. I’m late to work because the trains were overcrowded and running with delays, not because I happened to leave home a little a lot later than usual. I spilled my coffee all over my shirt because some idiot ran into me, not because I was texting, drinking and walking and unaware of my surroundings. My personal website is not done because everybody else needs me to do something, not because I haven’t carved out time devoted to completing it.

It’s actually a bit weird that my first post would be about taking responsibility when in fact I have not been doing this over the past year. I’ve been a victim of circumstance, feeling as though things (good and bad) just happen to me, and I’m here bearing whatever is thrown my way.

At the end of 2018 I was anxious and depressed. Not at all a good combination. I felt like I had no clue where my life (and business) were going. I found that I wasn’t truly passionate about anything. And with that, I just consumed myself with the one thing I knew I was good at -- working. This lead to an immense amount of burnout. In December I wanted to throw away everything, move back home, and honestly bum it out until I figured what was next. Even when I tried to block these thoughts out and throw myself back into my work I couldn’t. I was producing half-ass shit that only sent me spiraling down further.

“There’s a difference between blaming someone else for
your situation and that person’s actually being
responsible for your situation. Nobody else is ever responsible for your situation but you. Many people may be to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you. This is because you always get to choose how you see things, how you react to things, how you value things.”

That’s the part of the book that literally grabbed me by my toenails and edges and flung me back up to reality. It sat me down in front of the mirror and forced me to confront past and present behaviors. It looked me dead in my eye as I said the words “I’m responsible” and watched what felt like thousand-pound weights remove themselves from my shoulders. It watched me get my posture, my swag, my mojo back.

Now that I’ve admitted I’m 99% responsible for everything that happens to me -- erring on the side of caution and also admitting that 1% of life may actually be out of our control -- I’m back in control. And, I’m committed to…well…to life.

So, how exactly am I going to take responsibility? I’m committing to 3 things.

  1. Focus
    I can attribute a vast amount of my lack of self worth to an even higher lack of focus. You can’t be everything to everybody. That’s actually one of the first things I learned when I started my career in advertising. Thinking this was just something to say to brands and clients, I didn’t realize that it also transferred to my personal life. Like many people, I have the urge and the addictive need to always start something new. What’s my thing? And because of this, I often have some really good ideas that I don’t give enough time to and shitty ideas that I give too much time to. This year, I’ll dive deeper into three aspects of my life: Mimconnect, Netta as a brand, and one passion project.

  2. Wholeness
    There aren’t infinite Nettas. There’s one and she embodies a variety of different traits. The world can no longer have bits and pieces. And I don’t care if my words upset you, because there’s truth in them. Or if you feel threatened, that’s your insecurity not mine and I won’t harbor your feelings. Or if you think someone running a startup should act this way, I hate hustle porn so STFU! There are many life gurus who will tell you in order to live a healthy life you must do 100 things a day that they likely don’t even do. So, I’m focused on always showing up whole (whatever that means for Netta) and committing to giving the day my all. No timidity. No uncertainty. If I’m here, I’m here for a reason and I’m devoted to figuring that reason out.

  3. Understanding
    The most valuable trait you can possess is the art of understanding. It’s something that now, as a 26-year-old woman, I’m finally getting the grasp of. I studied Psychology in College, so you’d think I’d understand the ins and outs of how people think and behave, but like most things, you don’t get a real sense of what this entails until you’re actually in the real world. Working and conversing with so many different people has allowed me to really comprehend the idea of understanding. Everybody has different perspectives, and everybody is not always right, but that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong either. There are bits and pieces of truth to everything someone says. I’ve started to not take conversations and actions at a surface level and focus more on what the person actually said or did and why. Sometimes it points back to something I did or said -- something I need to take responsibility for -- other times it revolves around things that happen in their personal lives that are beyond my control. But understanding that it’s not all about me, and having those real conversations that bring us to a middle ground where we can get to the root cause of the issue has been so beneficial to my personal and professional life.

Everybody has New Year goals about being a better person. What’s one thing you want to enhance (not change) about yourself this year?

Netta Dobbins