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A Road Not Taken

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1999. I had an idea. The internet was an unwieldy behemoth few people understood.

Especially me.

Still, my idea gnawed at my insides. Pounded on the underpinnings of my skull. I nurtured it for weeks, before finally speaking it aloud.

To the man I loved, the man I was dating, the man who dumped me a few months later.

I explained it all to him: how I could record exercise routines online, and how people could sign in and pay a small amount of money to work out wherever they were. I was dazzled by dollar signs and my own brilliance.

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, Andra. Nobody would ever do that.”

And, just like that, my dream fizzled. I left its molecules hanging in the air between us, a failure before I tried.

Life gives us two kinds of folks: those who tell us we can’t, and those who make us believe we can. At the base of it, we have to trust ourselves. That’s true.

But one callous can’t might mean the difference between reality and what might have been.

Are you a cheerleader? Do you have strong cheerleaders in your life?

89 Comments Post a comment
  1. I think they are few and far between for all of us Andra! He sounded like a keeper

    January 6, 2014
    • NOT. πŸ™‚ Things turned out exactly the way they should’ve, Jim. I was sad at the time, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my life if it meant not ending up with MTM.

      January 6, 2014
  2. Andra, this is so very very true! A can’t from an influencer in your life erases any can that may have been possible. I have a few cheerleaders in my life but after reading this I believe it’s more important to be one for others. Hope all of your other dreams are bubbling over instead of fizzing out πŸ™‚

    January 6, 2014
    • This is as much a message to me to remember to cheer others. Glad you have a few people who lift you up, Gale. πŸ™‚

      January 6, 2014
  3. The power of one comment like that to kill the dream never fails to amaze me. I hope that my ‘cheerleading’ of my children throughout their life has made a difference. But then, I’m just Mum… πŸ˜‰

    January 6, 2014
    • I think it says more about where I was at the time than anything else. I didn’t believe I could do it, but I wanted someone else to blame for why I didn’t.

      January 6, 2014
      • Yes, a very good point…

        January 6, 2014
  4. Hey Andra, I had one of those. He thought my writing was a “cute hobby.” So I wrote a story about him checking into a haunted motel, where a ghost girl chopped off his brother’s head and made him watch. He never called my writing cute again.

    January 6, 2014
    • Haha. Very good one, Tracy.

      The only thing I ever remember this person telling me I could do well was write. At the time, I was still trying to make my way in public accounting, though, and didn’t believe any creative endeavor would be fruitful.

      January 6, 2014
  5. Andrea, that was indeed a superb and brilliant idea, and you should always be proud of your spark of intelligence to conceive it. It’s a shame that it did not materialize in your hands, because of the negativity that overpowered……sometimes it happens!

    Thanks for sharing this experience, for there is a great lesson to learn – to keep away from negativity and get rid of “can’t” from life, because in real world, the person who wins at the end is the one who thinks she can….and that makes a hue difference. One of my favorite poems reiterates the same message, and I am tempted to provide this link below because of its relevance.

    http://dshenai.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/favorite-poem-if-you-think-you-are-beaten-by-walter-d-wintle/

    Happy 2014!

    -Deo,

    January 6, 2014
    • Deo, I think I learned that poem in school. It’s so, so true.

      January 6, 2014
      • Thanks. It’s surely a great poem.

        Next time, when you will come up with such a brilliant idea, and I am sure you will, please do not let others dampen your inventive spirit. As the famous Latin phrase goes: “Illegitimi non carborundum!” πŸ™‚

        Cheers!

        January 6, 2014
  6. i am happy that he broke up with you, not for your hurt, but for you to have ended up with such a supportive partner. as it was meant to be. i’ve had both kinds of people in my life, and at this point, i choose to only be around those who are supportive. i love to be the cheerleader for others too, especially for my daughters and my friends. )

    January 6, 2014
    • I’m happy he dumped me, too. I wasn’t very happy about it then, but things turned out exactly as they should. I cannot imagine life without MTM. He said the other day that he couldn’t remember what life was like before me, but I remember my life before him vividly………because it makes me appreciate him every day.

      It’s great to get to a place in life where we can see that having the right people in our lives really does matter, and to know that we need to be the right person for others around us.

      January 6, 2014
      • tarakianwarrior #

        Love your reply Andra.

        January 6, 2014
  7. I like to believe that in all the ways and for all the times we pushed down our brilliance, or someone trampled on it before we had a chance to catch our breath, it manifests in other ways. See that was me, cheering you… and me… on. Go, go, go. πŸ™‚ And I bet you look amazing in a short skirt. Have you been working out? πŸ™‚

    January 6, 2014
    • I think you’re right, Angie.

      And yes, between yoga and walking, I’m going to look pretty fit by March. (I may look like a stressed-out hag from the neck up, though. Ha.)

      January 6, 2014
  8. Theres something you have to be careful with:
    -What do you think about X saying all those nice things about your work.
    -I hope its true.
    -Just that?
    -Yes, because, If I believe in the good, then you have to believe in the bad too, so.

    Lets say he actually supported you and said it was a great idea, then he dumps you, as it happened (I dont know why, its just an example).
    Thats the main reason I dont do scratchbacking for my blog, I only care about the good stuff, for me obviously.

    January 6, 2014
    • Some people never support anything for anyone else. The world is full of very selfish people.

      This post was a big reminder to myself to remember, even when I am overwhelmed, when I’m exhausted, when I’m not sleeping well, when I think I can’t do another thing in a day, that I am so fortunate to be able to make a dream come true. It may not turn out the way I want. Most likely, I will fail. But I will have made something happen that matters to me. I need to relish that, to savor it, to breathe into the hard stuff, and to enjoy the hell out of every second of it.

      January 6, 2014
      • πŸ™‚

        January 7, 2014
  9. James Moffitt #

    January 6, 2014
  10. I try to be a cheerleader. I have had a lot of naysayers in my life, which is part of the reason I struggle with believing in myself right now. I am trying to surround myself with cheerleaders.

    January 6, 2014
    • You’re finding some in the Great Blogosphere. You deserve to have cheerleaders, Lisa.

      January 6, 2014
  11. Let’s hope he’s now kicking himself in the ass for (1) discouraging you and (2) leaving you. What a moron. I try to be a cheerleader for my friends and family, even when I think their ideas are crazy. I can’t judge. I tried to develop a mail-order yarn company by, ahem, spinning and dyeing my own f**kin’ yarn. Talk about hard labor, and I had a day job as well so the only time I could “work” was evenings and weekends. Suffice to say it never quite got off the ground, but I learned a lot in the process. And I still have that itch to be my own boss. Someday.

    January 6, 2014
    • Now that I’ve been my own boss for a decade, I can’t imagine life any other way. That’s not to say it’s always easy, because it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I get tired of having to do everything sometimes. But I don’t regret it for a second, and you wouldn’t either. I hope you scratch that itch very soon. πŸ™‚

      And my mother-in-law is a big knitter and buys alpaca yarn from a llama farm where they do those things. I don’t know how they manage it all.

      January 6, 2014
      • It really helps if you love what you do. While I loved to spin, I came to love it a lot less because I was trying to make a business out of it. No regrets, though. Sometimes you have to do to find out what you don’t want to do. And kudos to your mother-in-law for buying directly from the source. That gives the llama farm a better profit margin than if she went through a middleman.

        January 6, 2014
  12. I am glad that the “you” I know is a person who will always forge ahead and do what needs to be done and what you want to do.

    January 6, 2014
  13. Very few people follow their dreams – even fewer are entrepreneurs – I applaud people who do both. I, while not following my dream, have at least found my passion to follow

    January 6, 2014
  14. For much of my life, I was surrounded by those who constantly told me I was wrong, or silly or stupid… it was not until I distanced myself from them and their ilk that I was able to take baby steps toward my goals and let my creativity blossom into something beautiful and rewarding. I learned that I had allowed others to define who I was, and even I believed them! This has been a long, difficult an extremely rewarding journey… worth every step and misstep. I applaud you for your accomplishments as an author. You inspire me.

    January 6, 2014
    • I had allowed others to define who I was, too. It took me almost a decade to stop doing that, to learn who I was and what I wanted. I’m glad you’ve made that journey, too, and come through it on the other side a stronger person.

      January 6, 2014
  15. β€œWhether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford Such a simple lesson yet, for many of us, so very difficult to learn.

    You may have allowed that particular dream to be stolen, but I think you “got” the lesson, because you’re certainly tenacious now. You’re also an awesome cheerleader. πŸ™‚

    January 6, 2014
    • Eventually, I got the lesson. It still took several more years of head-banging to get it right. πŸ™‚

      January 6, 2014
  16. It’s a good lesson, not to let anyone get in the way of your dreams. It’s hard when the people around you don’t believe in you. Glad you’ve found a better way.

    January 6, 2014
  17. You are so very right. It is so very easy to crush people with a callus word or negative phrase, and most often it is done in an offhand manner. We never even realize we have done it. But the damage goes deep – especially to children.

    I have a hard time seeing you a a person who would be hit by this, but then I remember some of our talks. Some of the things you have told me, and I realized that we all are susceptible to this. No matter how strong a person appears on the outside, they are still flesh and bone and child not he inside, and negative statements can hurt.

    I hope I don’t do that to you or anyone else. It is abuse of the worse kind.

    January 6, 2014
    • I was a very stupid woman back then. If I just do this, he will love me a little more. If I just give that, everything will finally be perfect. If I just let go of this thing I really care about, he will see how much I love him. The changes are wrought in bits and pieces, but over almost four years, they can fundamentally alter a person. Takers never appreciate what they’re given, because at the base of it, they don’t deem themselves worthy and thus disdain the giver for thinking them so.

      January 6, 2014
      • I think you are talking to me about something …

        Thanks for being my friend and buddy!

        January 6, 2014
      • And where did my avatar go?

        January 7, 2014
  18. I’m sorry you went through that. You’re better off without him. But you already know that. πŸ™‚ It wouldn’t surprise me if he took your idea and tried to make a go of it himself after discouraging you.

    January 6, 2014
    • Nah. He went in a different direction with his life, and I hope he’s happy.

      January 6, 2014
  19. I think I’ve always been more of a cheerleader. I don’t think I’ve had that many cheerleaders in my life cheering for me. that is why Bill is so important in my life he is an essential cheerleader. if there was one thing I really would change about my life it would be that I would have a better mentor early on in my career life.

    January 6, 2014
    • I’d love to have had that as well. I made so many mistakes back then.

      You are one of my best cheerleaders, Cheryl.

      January 6, 2014
      • Thank you Andra! You know that I know that there will be those who say…”And I had the chance to…”

        January 6, 2014
  20. So, wait. YOU could have been the Jane Fonda of the 90’s and early 2000’s and someone stomped on your dream? Wah!

    Hmmm. I’ll stop here before I start thinking about Barbarella clips. Still, you’d have been Barbell-era to a legion of loyal fans, but would that have changed your writing career? Hmmm… well, time travel doesn’t exist (or DOES it?), so it’s best to move forward, right?

    January 6, 2014
    • I hate exercise so much that I can’t believe I ever considered such a thing. I mean, I make myself do it, but I’ve always HATED it. πŸ™‚ I’m where I need to be right now.

      January 6, 2014
  21. tarakianwarrior #

    This is so very true. Yes, I know you know this – I’m stating the obvious just to let you know I was here and I hear you. πŸ˜€

    January 6, 2014
  22. The danger, I think, is that the secondary/external “I can’t” amplifies the internal voice already whispering “I can’t” to the point that it becomes deafening. That your external “I can’t” came from someone you loved and trusted would have carried that much more weight.

    I’m so happy for you now, being with someone who tells you “you can”, and believes it.

    January 6, 2014
    • I’d never be able to do what I do without MTM. That’s the truth. He has to love me, because that’s the only way he can possibly put up with me.

      January 6, 2014
  23. Carlos Ovalle #

    Sometimes one needs a cheerleader, sometimes a muse. But there is nothing like a naysayer to truly test your willpower and resolve. Sometimes you need to grasp the nettle and pull your way up to victory; the excruciating pain will transform into immense joy.

    January 6, 2014
    • These days, naysayers just make me say, “I’ll show them.” I had to grow into that, though. I haven’t always been that way.

      January 6, 2014
  24. Andra,
    I love what you wrote here,”But I will have made something happen that matters to me.” That is the very best of reasons why we do what we do. And every idea, successful or not, leads to another. Giving ourselves permission to ride the wave of creativity is so very life affirming, and as you said, makes us less reliant on what others may think.

    January 6, 2014
    • It always helps to be surrounded by people who appreciate that wave and ride it, too.

      January 6, 2014
  25. I have a couple apps on my ipad that bear a striking similarity to what you were thinking. Talk about having no vision.

    Those who see only what is in front of them shall always be intimidated by those who can see what is possible.

    January 6, 2014
  26. Yes, to both; I always TRY to be a person of encouragement and think I am, though it is good to be cognizant of how a word, a smile, a tilt of the head can influence someone negatively.

    I’ve had both cheerleaders and nay-sayers in my life. The nay-sayers made me stronger in the long run – then, I do have a stubborn streak (so sayeth my family). Tell me I can’t and I’ll make it happen.

    The first time I ran for a local public office, many told me I couldn’t get elected because of where I lived in town, while others encouraged me, yes, do it. Eleven people were running for four positions (three were incumbents). Against my better judgement, I was convinced to at least call a political strategist (yes, they are used in local home grown elections). I called, with my best, best, best campaign manager listening in, two hours before I needed to make a big speech in front of a caucus. Mr. Friendly asked me a few questions, then laughed, and said I could never win because of where I lived, I wasn’t in business, yada yada. I hung up, lump in my throat, tears ready to flow . . . then, I got all gussied-up, practiced my speech, and got madder that the mad hatter.

    I won! Big time! Three times! That call was the best thing to happen. No, I didn’t hire the bloke. My cheerleaders helped me every step of the way.

    January 6, 2014
    • I’ve always loved this story, Penny. I’m so glad you stuck it out, followed your gut, and WON.

      January 6, 2014
  27. Hooray that you found MTM–or MTM found you. I suspect I’m a cheerleader and I’m blessed to have a number of them in my life. I remember the internet in 1999. Interesting world back then.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    January 6, 2014
  28. “We have to trust ourselves.” Absolutely! Lovely post.

    January 6, 2014
  29. Am I cheerleader? Only when I know someone’s not trying to use me as slave labor. Been there, done that. Do I have any cheerleaders in my life? I think it comes down to this: I have some cheerleaders, as long as they can pay lip service and then forget about it. Where the rubber meets the road, I’m not so sure.

    January 6, 2014
    • Slave labor is never a good thing. I’ve been there, too.

      January 6, 2014
  30. I am definitely a cheerleader, Andra. I think it comes naturally to me, maybe because I have always had a lot of support and plenty of cheerleaders in my life! I like to see people try and experiment and reach for something new and different. Why other people feel the compulsion to shoot someone down I really don’t know.. I think we need to eliminate anyone in our lives who holds us down and can’t be happy for us and with us! Sounds like you dodged a bullet and you were saved from Mr. Negativity!

    January 6, 2014
    • I think it’s human nature for people to automatically compare themselves to others, to diminish the accomplishments and enthusiasm of others and to envy others. When someone shoots another person down, they’re really revealing a lot about themselves. I have to endure these conversations all the time these days, and I’ve taken to just wondering what the other person didn’t do that they wanted to do, rather than taking it personally.

      January 6, 2014
  31. Oh Yes! And I am a great cheerleader for others! I believe you can’t see the beautiful blue of the sky with your eyes closed. I am always encouraging others to follow their plans, dreams, hunches. Whatever. If you don’t make it, you don’t make it. So what? Try something new! Why others put us down I don’t know. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to take a chance on dreaming. It’s easier to not try at all. Thanks for the great pick me up this morning!

    January 6, 2014
    • Claudia, I suspect they want to take chances but are too afraid. That can lead to all kinds of angst, and it has nothing to do with me.

      January 6, 2014
  32. Rah Rah Rah. I used to be my own cheerleader, but since starting blogging I have found I can relax on cheering a little. Motivation does need to be internal, but having folks say you are doing a good job is important. ahem…Andra…YOU ARE THE GREATEST…siss boom bah *cymbal crash*

    January 6, 2014
    • The people I’ve met in the Great Blogosphere are some of the best people on earth. We’re both very lucky in that regard, John.

      January 6, 2014
  33. I do try to champion the dreamers and the doers, because I am one myself, come what may of it. And wow, would you have been on the cutting edge of awesome in 1999! Damn.

    January 6, 2014
    • I still don’t want to think about it. It still doesn’t compare to the idea I had for a website that tracked orgasms……….

      January 6, 2014
  34. Always glad to add my name to your cheerleading squad who can be found on this blogsite every day.

    And to the genius who dumped you, I can only say… “You should see her now, Pal!”

    January 6, 2014
  35. Not only am I a cheerleader with myself and others but I actually played one on tv (in High School I was a basketball and football cheerleader – dare I admit.)

    Think of the millions you would have made on the 1999 version of fit bit…but that’s ok, you wouldn’t have had the time to write. LOL.

    January 6, 2014
    • I know, really. πŸ™‚ (Nice to meet a fellow cheerleader.)

      January 6, 2014
  36. Well..here’s the thing: 1. You *are* brilliantly creative to think of something like that when it wasn’t even an idea. 2. May have been your idea molecules that someone picked up πŸ˜‰

    I’m more of a cheer leader to others…I’m learning to be a cheer leader to myself though..hehe

    January 8, 2014
  37. Listen to the mustn’ts child. Listen to the don’ts.
    Listen to the shouldn’t haves, the impossibles, the won’ts.
    Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me.
    Anything can happen child. Anything can be.

    ~ Shel Silverstein

    When we look within, using an internal reference point, we unearth our Inner Cheerleader who NEVER has an agenda other than encouraging us to be the best we can be.

    January 8, 2014
    • Carlos Ovalle #

      Beautiful, and how true!
      Reminds me of something told to me as a youngster by a bona fide genius, “nothing has to be”.

      January 8, 2014
  38. I liked how you mentioned on Beth’s recent post, that you tended to ‘excuse’ men’s poor behaviors. I tended to do that for quite a long period of my life. I think this man was inexcusably rude! Too bad that you didn’t go with your profitable and great idea, anyway! But lessons learned and a valuable one is, you weren’t meant to be with that guy! Smiles, Robin

    January 8, 2014
  39. I don’t really have any, personally – my younger life is a series of dreams pursued and then crushed by my mom or my grandparents assuring me that it will never pay the bills. That’s why I don’t invite them to read my blog!

    January 16, 2014
  40. Oh, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that your idea was both brilliant and slightly ahead of its time.

    January 16, 2014

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