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Women's History Month: Carly Lutz

Shifting Mindset & Finding the Positive in Transition

By: Carly Lutz

When I graduated from college in San Diego, I resisted coming back to the Bay Area. I felt stifled. I felt that in SF, I was unable to get outside of my comfort zone, that I wasn’t living by my mantra of “tourunning the globe,” so to speak! I was playing it too safe. That I was just another girl who came back to the Bay and roamed the Marina scene. I started putting all these labels on myself and on SF and putting restrictions on who I could be if I stayed here.

When I quit my job in tech, I felt an even stronger surge of defiance against everything and a sense of urgency to get out of my own skin. I put my head down and started rapidly applying to jobs in LA and NYC, committing myself to online applications and rigorous interview processes. I moved to the final round of three different companies that I was thrilled about…I worried they would smell my desperation from across the phone. “Please take me so that I can get out of this hell hole!” Simultaneously, I was working out incessantly, pushing my body and mind to sheer exhaustion.

When I was not the final candidate for any of these roles, I was crushed. My dreams of fleeing my dark apartment and throwing a giant middle finger to San Francisco to be the next Carrie Bradshaw in the Big Apple seemed to disintegrate. My plan of leaving my heartbreak from a painful breakup in NorCal suddenly seemed silly, as I was splashed with every insecurity I had ever carried with me. I realized I had been carrying a sense of desperation, an over-eagerness to escape the present, into every interview. I realized I was not exhibiting any sense of groundedness or “Carlyness” in those final interviews, where I was salivating over the opportunity to escape my current situation.

It wasn’t until I looked up from my LinkedIn, portfolio and resume, my emails, and started leaning into my existing and new communities in SF that my view of the city, and my internal sense of frustration, seemed to change and ease. I pondered the idea, “what if I stopped making SF such a miserable place for myself?” I began to tap into writing outlets like Medium, connecting deeper with my coworkers, looking for Yoga Teaching opportunities and discovering groups that align with my goals and values: Run clubs, women’s groups, volunteer organizations…. With the help of my friends and mentors, I shifted my mindset:

“Even if I do leave, what if I started creating a life that I don’t hate here, and stripped away my preconceived notions of myself and of who I have to be if I live in San Francisco? What if I took off the label of being a ‘stifled 20-something living at home who will never find a fulfilling job or life here’ to a different narrative: ‘a strong woman who is being smart by saving money, who stepped out of her comfort zone to pursue a career focusing on women’s and girl’s health and education, who seeks work and a life with purpose and authentic mission, who seeks to be challenged and surround herself with people from different backgrounds, who is open-minded and grateful for this — for this here and now?”

When we shift to a more positive view of ourselves and the present moment, the way the world perceives us starts to change and the more miraculous the present imperfect moment seems to become.

Changing my own internal narrative has also altered how I view San Francisco and my current situation. Acknowledging my own strengths and weaknesses in a non-judgmental, less critical way has empowered me and inadvertently brought some amazing people into my life. I rely less on external validation, or rejection, as the basis for my own value and self worth. I lean in with a bit more ease to those points of tensions and remain curious instead of fearful when it feels like things are falling apart. I still have a heck of a long way to go, but the present moment isn’t so miserable anymore, and I finally trust the person I see in the mirror.

Our own internal dialogues and the outside world have both explicit and nuanced ways of telling us that this — your here and now — is not enough; you are not enough; you need more; you should be somewhere else… But we have to stop the madness.

Here’s to not always looking for the next thing, the next new shiny adventure, the next new place to see or person to be, but rather in finding our salvation right here “in this imperfect moment,” as Heather Havrilesky says in her insightful book of essays, What If This Were Enough?

Here’s to shifting internal dialogues, tapping into communities that feed and energize our souls, and to changing perspective. Shoutout to San Francisco for keeping me humble and for all the good juicy pain this past year.

To any 20-Something in any city feeling lost, confused, disgruntled, or wondering ‘Am I doing this right?’ you are not alone. The next time you feel down on yourself or the environment you are living in, take inventory of not only external factors that might need shifting, but also reflect on your thoughts and mindset.

Consider reflecting on the following:

  1. How can you shift the narrative and perspective to one that will build you up, not exhaust you and tear you down?

  2. Is your workout routine energizing you or draining you?

  3. Are you getting enough sleep?

  4. What phrases or words are you telling yourself frequently? Are they positive, negative, kind or aggressive?

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