Joy Hunting: The Scariest Adventure of All Times
Updated: Sep 26, 2018
Joy Hunting blog
I'm 35. I'm married to the man of my dreams and we just bought our dream house. I've traveled to countless countries, hiked 150 miles the basecamp to Everest, Matchu Pitchu and most recently Iceland for a little last-minute girls trip. I've hosted TV shows, walked red carpets, founded companies, ignited moments, spoken at prestigious events and been adorned with public accolades and heroic awards. Yet honestly, in the midst of my impressive bio read before every talk I give,
I have this nagging feeling like something is missing.
I know, I know. Sounds like a third life crisis, but something clicked when I vulnerably reached out to my brothers, a few friends, professional peers and then I couldn't help myself but ask strangers their thoughts as well because we all had something in common regardless of age, sexual preference, race, gender preference, religion or class- we all had a trapper keeper of secret dreams and aspirations buried deep inside our heartbeat. It's as if they were time capsuled when we were eight, but we forgot where the the x marked the spot so we stopped looking for them or at the very least just kept silencing the alarm that was set to remind us to dig them up. I realized that in all my accomplishments; my fighting to change the world, my speaking and traveling and activism and work that is sincerely meaningful to me, that somewhere along the way, I had buried my joy and quite frankly, I stopped looking for her years ago.
I had impressive things to talk about with strangers over arranged fundraising dinners, I had an arsenal of flashcard stories talking circles around new friends and I certainly had a social media highlight reel that could go toe to toe with anyone's perfectly curated life. But the painful reality was behind the facade, I felt empty. Not for a few weeks or months, I mean for years. I have been going through the motions like a Comatose Barbie running an endless popularity contest, campaigning every second of every day. I felt numb and bored and burnt out and passion-less and not only did nobody know which only exacerbated the shame and inauthenticity I was peddling, but I was tired of not being honest with myself. Because the truth was, I wasn't "fine" and I knew something had to change, as terrifying as that was to admit.
But here is where this whole soul quandary took a terrifying turn. Because I asked one, then two, then seventeen, then forty one people and suddenly I realized something shocking.
I. Was. Not. Alone. We all seemed to feel this way.
A series of questions poured out of me. What did this mean? Were we all faking it? To each other? to ourselves? And we just didn't know it? How could so many people and I mean uber successful people with all the resources of money and time with no excuses for not manifesting their deepest darkest dreams all arrive at the same place? Why were all of us walking around with this this neon passion inside us, pretending it wasn’t burning our insides at every intersection of Should and Must. Which Elle Luna's book changed my life whenI read the distinction between the two.
When I asked the simple question, what brings you actual joy? What are the dreams- teeny or enormous- hidden behind sleepy eyes that you've had for weeks, months, years, decades that you've always wanted to do and just haven't for a million reasons. I was shocked at the answers. CEO's wanting to be stand up comedians, activists wanting to play the saxophone, my mom who has always wanted to act?!? Hiiiimean, how did I not know these fascinating, surprising and attainable diamonds that lay just beneath the stream of these people's lives? And the excuses were equally teeny and enormous. But the ONE thing they had in common, why people, including myself didn’t chase these joy nuggets down was that every one of us stopped hunting them because we were all
Scared. What. People. Might. Think.
Heaven forbid, our need to “grow up,” our PhD in adulating and even our success had all become our greatest limitation; an indestructible straight jacket for our creativity, purpose and passion. No wonder so many of us medicate: whether it's alcohol, drugs, binging TV or our social media addiction. We have to numb it out of us, the Truth; that there is an unexpressed piece of us that is on its death bed or at worst dead and in great need of resuscitation. It might very well be the pearl inside our clam shell, the very point of our humanity and the part of us that if it dies we might as well die right along with it.
Suddenly I was presented with a cross roads: change or die. It was as simple and dramatic as that. I reached a moment in my life where I couldn’t breathe another breath more concerned with what everyone in my life thought about me than what I thought about me. I couldn’t make one more decision that made sense to everyone else but me. I couldn’t read one more inspirational book or save one more inspiring meme without taking a step in the direction of what I really wanted which to be honest- I HAD NO CLUE because I had never asked myself!
Too often we are asked, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” which is basically a hint at what would you do if there were no limitations to your resources? And I will up the ante, it’s less about what you would do with unlimited resources and more about, “what would you do if you were the last person on the planet?” Hinting at, what would you do if there were no judgement from others, no one to disappoint, no one to critique you, no one to laugh at you or say your aspirations are silly and stupid and superficial? Even if the only person if yourself.
So I did the unthinkable. I erased all three white boards in my office that were filled to the brim with legitimately important work “to do’s.” Yes. It was impulsive, but that is what you do when you realize that your life is on the line. You do whatever the F you have to do to stay alive. Like a mad scientist, I started writing down all the things I’ve always wanted to do- a bucket list of things that for whatever reason
Bring. Me. Actual. Joy.
Big things. Small things. Trivial things. Dirty things. Scary thing. Romantic things. Selfish things. Beautiful things. Adventurous things. Boring things. For once in my life, I excused the harshest critique in my life and didn’t allow myself to squash my own joy list; it’s probably why my hand was flying at ten thousand miles an hour. Because she knew this magical vortex that has never opened in my entire life, might shut at any moment and remain sealed for another 35 years. I may have blacked out for a moment, but when I came to- I had a list of things I didn’t even know I wanted or liked or needed. It was strange. Like I was meeting parts of me I didn’t know existed.
And that is when I knew.
That my life depended on me hunting down every single thing on this list or at least as many as I could. That the old Lex who had perfected the art of impressing could no longer exist in this world. Not that I wasn’t grateful for her and all she had done for me, but there were aspects of her that no longer served me. What had gotten me to this point, couldn’t possibly get me to where I was now headed. I needed wings and this worm would simply have to evolve into it’s intended host. It was as simple as that. There was something entirely different about this Lex- the one panting, holding a dry erase marker, with wild hair and wilder eyes singing Rachel Platton’s FIGHT song at the top of her lungs.
Change or die. A slow death. Death by a million shoulds. Waking up at the end of a long life, looking in the mirror not seeing the wrinkles, but more so a broken heart from a life filled with regrets of “what if’s” and “why not me’s” and “If only’s.” I saw a glimpse of an old, gray woman who wished she could turn back the clock and if by some teleporting magic, she ushered me into a new possibility for our future with the simple phrase; “Joy- it’s worth the hunt. What say you?” (not sure why she sounded like a pirate but I got the point).
So I’m choosing Yes. I’m choosing hard, terrifying, uncomfortable change. I’m choosing doing things that only have to make sense to me. I’m choosing to mine the shit out of the joy buried inside my heart beat and searching for that x that marks the spot for my time capsule. Today is the first day of this awesome and scary journey. But more than just sharing my experience, this is an invitation for you too. It’s not by chance that you stumbled upon these words of a random girl in random town half way across the city or state or country or world. You found me because we are on this journey together. Your soul needs you to believe in the faint whispers you’ve avoided all your life. Because the little kiddo inside you who was fearless and audacious because for the world got their hands on them- that little person inside you who needs you to remember now what to do but who you are. Those little joys hidden in your heart beat is your roadmap back home, it’s the antivenom to the zombie version of you walking around with a blank stare and the defibrillator paddles that are going to start your heart again.
It. Is. Time. To. Say. Yes.
So grab a piece of paper, pull up the notes app on your phone, I don’t care if you scribble it down on the back of the old receipt at the bottom of your purse or valet stub in center console of your car: make a list of. One. Seven. Fifty six. Or thirteen hundred things that are on your Joy’s bucket list. That is the but the first step.
May the joy hunting begin my darling…