I don’t believe in signs. I used to think I did and searched for meaning everywhere. I spent hours interpreting what my horoscope meant and read way too much into fortune cookies. Along with this, I also asked everyone I knew for advice on whatever decision I was trying to make—and also everyone I didn’t know. As in, “Hey pizza delivery guy, do you think I should quit my job/break up with my boyfriend/get bangs?”. Now I know that this is because I didn’t have confidence in my own decision-making abilities. I hadn’t yet met The Voice.
Call it intuition, God, whatever you want, but The Voice tells always me what my next step is. It has never failed me. I, however, have definitely failed The Voice. I failed it for a long time by not acknowledging it existed, and instead seeking outside answers to questions that could only be decided from the inside. I failed it by being too scared or too busy (which is often another word for scared) to get quiet and listen for it. I failed it by pretending that I didn’t hear it, sending it to directly to voicemail even when it called me clearly and repeatedly. I failed it by deciding to listen to a different voice instead, the one that tells me I deserve that fourth cookie/those ridiculously expensive shoes/to defend myself on social media with a snarky comment.
The Voice and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship. We first met in my twenties, while I was working long hours making good money as a banker in New York. I’d never particularly valued money or power, but I followed the crowd after school and took a job with a reputation for providing both. I was miserable and couldn’t put my finger on why. Then one day I walked up to the shiny downtown tower where I worked and saw two fire-red Lamborghinis parked out front. It was bonus day, and crowd of guys in expensive suits stood around the cars, petting and prodding them.
This is not you.
At first I thought the person next to me had whispered in my ear, but when I turned there was no one. I heard the same words every day for the next three months until I finally listened and found another job that paid significantly less but made me much happier.
There have been times when The Voice has been quiet for long periods. I’ve I learned that this does not mean it has abandoned me. The silence simply means “Not enough information today, try again tomorrow”. This is hard when, like me, you are not a patient person. I detest the feeling of wasting time by not taking action. We forget, though, that waiting is an action.
The Voice’s longest period of quiet was when I was trying to decide whether to end my first marriage. I went to marriage counseling, made lists of pros and cons, and sought the counsel of friends. Ultimately, though, I knew I had to wait for The Voice to weigh in. Every day when I woke up, I took a deep breath and listened. Every day for a long time the same thing came back to me out of the silence.
So, I waited. I waited while the months slipped by. I waited and worried that with them went my chance to have a family someday, either with my current partner or someone else. I trusted, though, that The Voice would speak up. Then one day out of the morning quiet came something different.
You are finished here.
That was literally the day things ended. Many describe a roller coaster of emotions after they end a relationship, including pain, loneliness, and remorse. The only things I felt were peace and relief. I know this is because I followed The Voice’s cue and waited to act until I was absolutely confident my happiness lay elsewhere.
The Voice has also steered me through more joyful decisions. Like when I met my current husband and it said, Yes, him. Or when I considered whether to uproot my life and career to follow him across the country, and it said Go.
So no, I don’t believe in signs. I do believe in getting quiet for at least a few minutes every day and listening for The Voice. Which, spoiler alert, is you. Deep down, you know what you should do. You know what is good for you and how to run your life. You’ve got this, you just need to filter out the noise and listen. Turn off the radio and drive to work in silence. Put down your headphones and go for a run with the soundtrack of your thoughts. Take three deep breaths instead of picking up your phone in a moment of boredom. That’s when it happens, I promise. When you listen, it’s amazing what you’ll hear.
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