I used to think libido was a car. This was true, in fact, until about half a year ago. I seldom encountered the word, but when I did, I guessed the definition using the words around it. Drive was a common one. Libido was also often used to describe high school boys.

Naturally, libidos must be sports cars.

And that was a big epiphany moment for me.

LibidoFrom there my imagination filled in the enormous gaps in my understanding. Libidos were probably sleek Italian cars. I pictured long, sexy convertibles that young men drove around to look hot. While the libido was probably more common in earlier decades, it is still considered a babe magnet. Guys in sunglasses would pull their Libidos up next to women and ask, “Wanna go for a ride?” or, “Let’s burn some rubber.” And, of course, I pictured the Libido as a stick shift.

I was close, but I was missing something.

This is pretty common. One little misconception can change the way we understand things. It can change our perceptions, our preferences, and sometimes it can change the way we live completely.

I was born in a blessed household to parents who very much had the “you can do anything you put your mind to” mindset. They let me follow my interests, whatever they were. I liked soccer, so I played soccer. I wanted to learn to play clarinet, so they paid for lessons. They sent me to good schools, and even for a year at a special one for advanced students. They never pushed or even mentioned their political or social views around me, instead letting me choose for myself. Through this upbringing I got the sense that I could do anything I wanted with my life. I just had to decide what that would be.

I was intentionally self-sufficient. From an early age I preferred to do things on my own, and I never wanted things handed to me. I blessed myself when I sneezed. I pretended to not want Christmas presents very much. In school, I preferred to teach myself. Instead of listening to my teachers, I would read my textbook, educating myself on the water system, sentence diagramming, and long division. I felt accomplished. It was as though I had discovered cumulous clouds, adverbs, and numbers all by myself.

As I grew up, I continued in this mindset, though not without challenges. I soon discovered that soccer and the clarinet were not for me, but I discovered talents for other things. I liked art, theater and public speaking, though many of these, too, met unfortunate ends. Through high school and college, I felt decently accomplished. I certainly wasn’t the “I can do anything” kid I was before, but I was still confident in my abilities and my achievements.

Post-college life was a humbling experience. I got married soon after graduation, and my wife was offered a job a week after the wedding. I was less fortunate. I spent months changing my resume, making writing samples and cover letters, and sending them down the one-way street leading to employment. I rarely heard back. I rarely had an interview. I hated the networking. I hated the system of getting jobs through knowing people. Ideally, one should get a job based on merit and skill, not being related to the hiring person’s best friend.

I got a part-time job working for my wife’s best friend. I despised it, because I felt as though I hadn’t earned it. Over time, my life continued to develop on its own despite my efforts to control it. We bought a house. My family treated us to a vacation. Laura got amazing things like benefits and 401k’s and Christmas bonuses, while I struggled to find a career. I hated it. I hated that I couldn’t achieve a satisfying career. I hated that most of my friends had moved away and were busy being successful nurses and engineers and teachers.  I hated that my house was bought mostly with my wife’s money, and that because I was employed part time, my name didn’t even appear on the mortgage. I hated that, despite putting my mind to it, I couldn’t do anything I wanted.

It’s amazing, isn’t it, how one little misinterpretation can change a person’s whole life. It’s perhaps more amazing how small a problem it is to fix. I was at home, half listening to a lecture on leadership being shown on television. I had taken notes for a while, but soon found my mind wandering. The speaker was talking about blessings. Feeling a little bitter towards God in general, I tuned it out as I often did when an over-used religious term entered conversation. But this time, something drew me in.

He said that blessings were undeserved gifts.

Another one of those epiphany moments.

I’m not sure how I had never realized this, but I hadn’t. Blessings are gifts? But then how do I earn them? Didn’t God bless those who expanded his kingdom? Wasn’t it blessed to give? Perhaps gifts are instead more blessing. Everything I have and care about has been given to me.

I made a list, something I had never done before. I came up with 100 gifts I had received without earning them, which was surprisingly easy. Maybe I’m not as successful as others out there, but I have just as many, if not more, blessings.

So what am I thankful for?

I’m thankful for loving parents who allowed me to choose my paths. They helped me pay for college. If I needed it, they would let me move back home in a heartbeat. Because they care.

I am thankful for my wife, who has always appreciated me and supported me. I’m thankful for her career, and that she can provide for us, especially since I can’t.

I’m thankful for my boss. She might be my wife’s best friend, but she was willing to give me a chance. She saw my need; she helped me because she wanted to.

Mostly I’m thankful for that random leadership guy who fixed my understanding of a little word and completely changed the way I see my life.

1 Comment

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    Great post. I had considered writing a similar one, except without the epiphany at the end. I’m bad at epiphanies.

    I also had a very hard time finding employment after college, rarely got interviews (and often felt I performed poorly in them). I almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten my current job without the good word of a good friend who was working here at the time.

    And I must confess I struggled a lot with jealousy over friends of mine, often people I worked alongside or even over at Chimes, getting great jobs, jobs I would have wanted, jobs in careers I was after, while I was still struggling to get a foot in a door, any door. I wondered what I was doing wrong. What employers saw in them that they never saw in me. I wanted to be happy for them, and I was, but it was hard to not feel a little depressed or resentful too. I’m not proud of that but it is what it is.

    Sometimes I just have to take a step back and remember how good my life really is. Because it’s easy to forget.


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