I have been watching Jim Carrey’s famous commencement address over and over again lately — at least once a day, and sometimes more, for the past week. Some days, it’s all I can do to stay calm, given everything else that’s going on right now. There’s a lot to the speech, but this is one of my favorite parts:
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him. So he made a conservative choice. Instead he got a safe job as an accountant. When I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive.
I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you could fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.
In two days, I’m leaving the career I’ve had for nine years. And in three days, I’m moving more than 1,400 miles away, to a city I love, where I’ll be going back to school in the fall. Many people tell me that it all sounds very exciting, but this transition means giving up my cushy job and living as a student– in my 30s, at a time when everyone else I know seems to be getting married, buying houses, having children, and planning for retirement. It has already meant getting rid of nearly everything I own, and completely changing my lifestyle in order to prepare for the next chapter.
This transition feels illogical, irrational, and potentially, deeply regrettable.
It means acknowledging to everyone that despite everything I’ve been saying for years, and despite many of the things I was taught growing up, there are things in this world that mean more to me than money. And that without those things, the money just isn’t worth it anymore.
It means that down the road, if things don’t work out, there will be a whole lot of people in my life who can say, “I told you so.” The thought of all the I-told-you-sos is so scary to me that it’s debilitating. In fact, it’s probably the reason I’ve stayed in my current career for so long.
Last week, with less than a week remaining before my departure, I thought about telling my boss that I would stay at my job for two more months. I think I just wanted to forestall the huge change that’s about to happen and give myself time to reconsider.
Fear is incredibly powerful. Jim Carrey explains it pretty well:
Our eyes are not only viewers, but also projectors that are running a second story over the picture we see in front of us all the time. Fear is writing that script and the working title is, ‘I’ll never be enough.’
As I get closer and closer to Thursday, I have to keep reminding myself that I didn’t make this decision on a whim. That I chose it — and I am actively choosing it — because I know I can do better with this life.
I’m thinking about making something for my future self, maybe a list of reminders, inspirational quotes, and other reassurances. I might need something encouraging to look back on when the road ahead becomes treacherous, as it inevitably will. But I’m not quite ready to do that today. For now, I think Jim Carrey has already said the words I need to hear:
…that peace, that peace that we’re after, lies somewhere beyond personality, beyond the perception of others, beyond invention and disguise, even beyond effort itself.
You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor fall.
Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form.
Risk being seen in all of your glory.