Asking (and Answering) This Simple Question Can Really Change Your Life
When I moved into my sister’s room almost a year ago, I hadn’t done much to personalize the space other than smother the walls in posters and paintings I had brought with me from my old room.
After sitting in it for months and months trying to decide what the space was missing, I came to the conclusion that a fresh coat of paint was just what it needed.
I knew that choosing the paint color would be the first hurdle because the last time I painted my room I spent $75.00 on paint, and an entire day painting only for the walls to go not even one shade darker than what they were before. But I knew the wonders a change of scenery could do for my aching psyche that had been promised an update for the new year.
So I called my two friends, Rebekah and Jasmine, and they agreed to help me get the job done.
I went in there with a pretty clear picture of what I wanted in my head. I wanted some sort of beige, not too light, not too dark.
But warm. The most important thing was that the color be warm.
But as I stood in the paint section of Home Depot, with about 1000 different shades in front of me, it became increasingly difficult to stick to my original vision.
Rebekah and Jasmine looked diligently through each paint swatch, bringing them to me in hopes of approval, selling each color to me as if it were a car.
Rebekah, who I personally believed missed her calling to be on the HGTV network, talked about “tones” and “shades” and “accent walls” and stuff. Jasmine on the other hand simply kept saying, “What about this one?”
It seemed that the more they talked, the less I knew.
Half an hour passed by before I felt myself losing hope. I wanted to call off Operation Paint.
Jasmine and Rebekah were off to the side looking at another brand of paint, getting ready to collect a handful of swatches and pitch their ideas to me, yet again.
But in their absence, I decided to ask myself:
“What do I want?”
I looked at the wall of colors and picked up a swatch, looking directly at one color. It was called Sand Motif. It was nice. It was beige. It was dark but not too dark. And it was warm. I put it back down and looked at the wall again. I saw a color similar to the one I had just picked up and grabbed the swatch. It was
Sand Motif again.
When the girls came back over to me, each with about 15 swatches in their hands, I said:
“Wait. I’m gonna look at the wall, and whatever color I see and like will be the color I choose.”
A silent two minutes passed by. The Jeopardy theme song played in my head for the entire time. My eyes passed by a few colors that I liked from a distance, but nothing enough to pick up.
I caught my eyes wandering back to the same swatch over and over again, and decided to pick it up.
I looked at the swatch silently. And as the seconds passed by, I felt myself falling more and more in love with the color.
“Guys. This is it. This is the color!” I exclaimed, not realizing how excited I really was to finally decide on a paint color.
“Are you sure?” Rebekah asked.
“I went back to it three times without even knowing it was the same swatch. This is it. I know it. I feel it,” I replied.
The three of us jumped up and down and gave each other some sloppy high fives before excitedly approaching the counter to order a gallon of paint.
The moral of the story is that sometimes, no matter where we are or what we’re doing, everyone will be telling us what to do and how to do it. It’s up to us, particularly in those instances to be able to step outside ourselves, turn everyone else’s voices down, or off completely, and turn ours all the way up and ask ourselves:
What do I want?
Even if they’re our best friends, it’s us that has to make the final call. Nevermind what they want. Nevermind what they want us to want. Nevermind what they think.
When we were all done painting and the girls left. I put my furniture back in its place. And when it came time to hang up my posters again, I only chose a few. Because for once, I wasn’t so concerned with covering things up, but perhaps more interested in baring it all.
See, when you follow your heart and you trust your instincts, you have nothing to cover up. Or maybe you do but you don’t even feel the need to. Because you know that maybe it isn’t right for Rebekah or Jasmine, maybe it isn’t right for anyone else in the world.
But it’s right for you.
And it makes you look around before you turn your light off at night.
Or smile at the uncrowded spaces that were once filled on your walls.
It makes you feel warm.
When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. But when it came time to apply to university, I didn’t listen to myself and enrolled in the history program instead. It took me two years to find out how unhappy I could be. I should've stuck to my original vision.
I’ll never forget the day my aunt asked me,
“Stephanie, what do you want?”
The words seemed like they were in another language as I repeated them to myself.
When I asked myself what I wanted, the answer was journalism, just as the paint kept reappearing before my eyes. I didn’t know how at home I was until I entered my lecture that first day, the same way I didn’t know how much I loved the color until it was all over my walls, good enough without the posters and the paintings.
So what is it that you want?
Is it a new job? A new paint job? A new car? A new life?
Sit down and figure it out. Make your way there. It might take a lot; it might be a few minor adjustments. But if it’s a process of moving mountains, stone by stone will eventually get the job done.
Whatever the case is, I can make a personal promise to each and every person reading this right now that asking yourself what you want, and then actually going after it will change your life.
Don’t believe me?