ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Just The Tip: How to Avoid Becoming a High Strung, Stressed-Out Jockstrap.

In: Just The Tip,

Stress.

If handling it well means binge pooping and frantically screaming at the furniture delivery man that he ruined your life by bringing the wrong color chaise lounge chair instead of this gorgeous one THAT I WAS SO EXCITED TO SIT ON, then I get an A+.

I don’t like stressy people—they’re a bunch of jockstraps.

So the fact that I was turning into one wasn’t exactly my ideal, ahem, position in life.

And so last year, I made the decision to take the entire month of October off and do the whole “retreat” thing. For thirty whole days. Just me and a bunch of chicks. No hot lesbian action. (Though one girl did say she liked my butt.)

The criteria for the retreat center I’d pick?

1. No green smoothie horse dong.

2. No god talk.

3. And no unshaved pits. (Person voted most likely to write “YUMMY!” on their 333rd uploaded green smoothie photo.)

The goals:

1. Stop picking at my fingers like an insane anxious weird person who always seems like they’re hiding something. (Not useful at immigration.)

2. Be thrilled to get a friend’s Facebook message. (Instead of viewing it as yet another task.)

3. To take pleasure in slowly, artfully and deliberately writing out cursive letters—and remembering the joy of writing—real writing, with a pen and paper—which is how I fell in love with the written word in the first place.

4. Watch every single show that’s come out since Steve Urkel & Family Matters. (I made it to Mad Men.)

5. Read something other than non-fiction books about consumer psychology & buying behavior. Like celebrity gossip magazines. PRECISELY LIKE CELEBRITY GOSSIP MAGAZINES.

6. Move my fucking ass a little.

7. Save the whales. (In progress.)

So the day finally shimmied its way onto the calendar – October 1 – and I cried as I pulled up to the place.

Not because I’m one of those sentimental fucks, but because I instantly reverted back to the first day of kindergarten, scared no one would like me. That they’d look at me like a spoiled brat who didn’t deserve to be there (running the world's most fun creative company online from a Macbook while I travel the world isn’t the most harrowing of circumstances, after all), and that I’d made the wrong choice. That I didn’t belong there. And that I should just suck it up and push through the deadlines and the work and the pressures and the clients and the partners and the expectations and the responsibilities and the exhaustion.

Here was me: The girl who used to get stoned off the unknown; the girl who used to chide her friends into taking spontaneous trips, dance on stage with the band, take airplane flying lessons in red cowboy boots, jump into hotel pools in business suits, visit foreign countries alone, and walk into any business meeting and dominate it. The higher the stakes the better.

And yet, there I was. In the world’s most non-threatening place on earth—the state of Vermont—and more unsure than ever.

But like any thing else, I did what I always do when I’m unsure about something: I get sure.

I placed one foot out of the car, and I stood up. And then after that? (Listen to this crazy shit.) I took a step forward. And then another one. And then another one. And then another one. And then suddenly I looked up and I’m checking-in…instead of chickening out.

Thirty days.

I drank a lot of tea, relaxed, started to feel like my old self again, and did everything that I wanted to while I was there—and that included not checking email. I’m not sure when email got to be such a pain in the ass, but it is—and especially when you get one with a disrespectful, belligerent attitude. You know what I do with those geniuses? I report them for spam. It’s like – hey, man. You opted in to get my emails. But I certainly did not opt-in to get yours.

Taking the month of October off may, in fact, become a yearly ritual. I brought some stones from Vermont back to Costa Rica with me, where I’m currently living, and use them as a reminder that everybody else’s urgent problems are not yours (even though they will try and make them yours), and the phrase “keep your eye on the ball” exists for a reason. Mostly because you don’t want a black eye, but also, because if you don’t you’ll never hit a home run. And then you’ll just spend your life being a glorified ball girl, picking up everybody else’s balls.

Do you get what I’m saying here?

If you have shit you want to do in life, please for the love of jockstrap analogies, make it the priority. Everyone else comes after that priority, okay? I don’t care if they beg. I don’t care if they write you emails with the subject line, “URGENT.” (These dictators need to be euthanized.) And I don’t even care if you feel bad about it. (We all feel bad about it. Get over it. And then get on with your life.)

Even if it requires taking an entire month of shoving your every one else's responsibilities down a big, black hole so you can do you?

SO BE IT.

We all think the world will get upset with us if we take our October—whatever that may look like.

We all think we’re going to have too many consequences to face.

We all think people are going to think we’re irresponsible, that they’re going to say nasty things about us, and we'd feel like we weren't “hustling” enough, à la Gary Vaynerchuk. 

But that doesn’t make those thoughts right.

They’re just thoughts.

And as easily as you can view your figurative October like a spoiled, undeserving, self-indulgent, ignoble thing to do (especially when you’re trying to build—gasp!—a business), you can also view your October as a strong-willed, fact-of-the-matter, incredibly intelligent, smart move that gives you your edge.

At the very least? You won’t become a binge pooping jockstrap who frantically screams at innocent delivery men. Because that just makes you look as psycho as you feel. And let’s face it:

Stress is the one thing that really does make your butt look big.

Enter your email address and I'll rummage around in my bag of tricks for JUST the thing.

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151 thoughts on "Just The Tip: How to Avoid Becoming a High Strung, Stressed-Out Jockstrap."

  1. Steve Roy says:

    Ash,
    Not that you need to read another one of these, but my stress right now is related to the overwhelming fear that my new online business will take a shit. I quit my job a while back and have been struggling to get it together. You already know this from personal experience, but not knowing if you’ll have enough $ to pay for food (or heroin) is a tad daunting…

  2. Elle says:

    I’m so happy I finally got to this post in my RSS feed because I am absolutely becoming that stressed out jockstrap. I’ve been in business for myself for nine years and this is my best, busiest year ever. I may actually need to hire help. Stress, but good stress. I’m really proud of myself, in fact. We’re in the process of adopting a baby. Stress, but good stress. Working toward a goal. My secret stress: My in-laws are going on their dream trip to a country overseas, they’re bringing us, my brother & sister-in-law and their two kids. I am the world’s biggest brat for complaining about free airfare and hotel across the ocean, but I would rather break my leg, have anesthesia-free surgery, live in my car, etc. than go on this trip. A 12-hour flight, 14-hour time difference, few people speak English and we don’t speak the language, a trip they’re calling their “last hurrah” (no pressure), bickering old people, kids off their regular schedules, everyone on pins and needles not to “set off” my temperamental mother-in-law, I have no idea where we’re going/what we’re doing other than a long, motion-sick bus ride, being on someone else’s schedule and seeing what someone else wants to see on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I rarely need a vacation, but this year I really *do* need a vacation and I really *NEED* to relax for once. This is the exact wrong trip at the exact wrong time and I’m making myself sick over it and I hate my bad attitude about it and I’m the worst, but … there you go. Damn. I really am the world’s biggest brat.

  3. Chad says:

    My secret stress is I’ve worked a job for 13 years that I hate, and I know I shouldn’t be there. But, I don’t know what the hell else to do with myself!

  4. Jealous says:

    The first thing I got out of this article is you live in Costa Rica and vacation in Vermont. How weird is THAT?