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"You take care of you."
I had just dropped out of college, 5 years into a PhD. It was an extremely nerve racking time for me. Surrendering the proof (think diploma) of a doctorate was career suicide in my field (Developmental Genetics). I was broke and wasn’t really sure where my life was going. all I knew was that I had several weddings booked and I was toying with an idea of making a free online photography school.
Summer started, and I began to notice, that my air conditioning wasn’t working correctly. I called the repair in, and the landlord sent out the AC repairman who informed me “the air conditioning unit is working at full capacity”, it was 92-94 degrees INSIDE my apartment, and such, was intolerable. I called the landlord again, but this time they said they weren’t going to do anything about it as the AC unit was working. (There is a big difference between something working and your apartment being tolerable). I felt really trapped because I had just signed a lease, couldn’t sleep at night and felt like I was locked into a hellish situation. The only way I could cool off was to take a cold shower every 2 hours, which got old.
I continued to try to call my landlord to resolve this in reasonable terms, to which they told me to never call them again (but not with such nice words).
Then, I did something bold and called the police to file a complaint with them. My strategy with this was to build up record evidence against my landlord, in the event we went to court. So that’s the short version of a long story to lead up to a great lesson I learned that night.
The cop came over, inspected the apartment, agreed it was miserable and invited me to come sit with him in his patrol car. He filled out the report, gave me a case number, then looked me in the eye and asked: “How old are you?” I told him. And then he said something I hope I never forget: “Michael, You take care of you.”
Now I know this might seem like a duh moment, but what I took this to mean was: “You are not at the mercy of your seemingly hopeless situation. You are a grown man. Do something about it. Don’t let these punk landlords push you around, if you don’t like something, if you are hurt, hungry, in this case hot, don’t go asking around for help, or calling the cops when you can solve your own problems. Get the heck out of here! The more you believe you are at the mercy of your situation, boss, employer, house payment, health condition, the more helpless you are. The more you believe you can solve your own problems, the more independent you will become.”
That was a really big turning point in my life and I started to realize, that I really did control where I was going, and if I didn’t like something about my life, it was my fault. I know this is a tough pill to swallow, but I honestly believe it applies to nearly all situations in life. Don’t listen to the lie that will come into your head, the excuse, the reason for not taking action. Most of the time all we need to do is change our attitudes.
If you don’t like something about your life. Change it. If you believe you cannot change it, then yes, you are stuck and you always will be until you get sick of it to the point of doing something about it.
(As a side note- If you decide to discuss this with me as a friend on a personal level, I will give you the same advice I am now, but I will secretly think you are wimpy even though I still love and care about you.)
There is a very specific reason I am saying this, but I wont mention it because I think if I am vague here, it will apply to more situations.
Don’t count on anyone to come save you. You are smart, capable and if you come up with a plan, you will be free.
You take care of you. (Be your own bailout!)