Being in Control

I had an epiphany a couple of days ago while walking to the subway stop on my way to work. It really did feel like an epiphany. The thought seemingly dropped from the clouds and landed in the front of my brain. Of course, in true Universe fashion, a few moments followed throughout the week that completely solidified it.
Before I go through the epiphany… let me give you a little background. I really like to be in control. Maybe a little too much. But, for better or worse, feeling “out of control” is one of the worst feelings for me. I don’t like surprises. Plans and punctuality are two of my best friends. I also have a little bit of a problem when it comes to trusting other people, but I’ve definitely made some strides in this department over the past couple of years.
Frankly, I feel much happier when I feel in control. But lately I had been feeling like I wasn’t in control of anything. I felt like I was on a treadmill going full speed and couldn’t find the button to slow down or to even stop the stupid machine. I was growing frustrated as I felt the treadmill increasing speed– steadily, but increasing.
I woke up at 5:05 per my usual morning routine. (Oh yea, I like routines!!!) After showering, I got in bed…. in my robe… and got some emails answered. I finally went back into the normal swing of things, ….In the back of my mind I was thinking about all these things that I felt like I wasn’t in control of. The thoughts– as thoughts do– grew. And continued to grow until they had a life of their own.
It wasn’t until I was turning the corner to enter the subway station that it dawned on me.
I seriously was in control.

I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, but it was me that was doing it! I did feel better for the thirty feet to the subway knowing that (yay!) I actually was in control. During the 16ish minute ride to 14th street though, I was working through the process of how I needed to be happy with my decisions, or else figure out a way to change them.
1) Do I love what I do on my blog? YES.
2) Am I getting the experience I need (and want) from my (amazing) job? YES.
3) Do I like spending time with my friends here in the city? YES.
3a) Is it worth sacrificing a few hours every night to just hang out? Duh.
4) Is meeting new people and new companies worth the extra time and energy? YES x 498372.
5) Are all of my side projects things I really want to do? YES.
Once I took inventory of this, I realized how I was letting my control issue dictate the way I felt about L I F E. Oh-so-wrong approach.
Growing up, I always felt like I had to do things. I had to do X because it “looks good on a resume.” I had to do Y because my parents expected me to. I absolutely had to do Z because my professors required it. The school gave me no option but to take the ten “required” (but utterly uninteresting) classes to graduate.
Once I graduated I felt completely liberated. I turned down job offers that weren’t “me.” I could move to any city in the world that I wanted to. (That alone was the best feeling, even though I couldn’t picture myself anywhere by NYC!) I could pick one of my favorite but back-burnered hobbies of painting back up and travel the world as a starving artist. I could bootstrap the company I’ve always dreamed of running. I could get married and start a family.
I took control and did exactly what I wanted to do. But over the past few months, the routine has become…. well, routine. (That’s the funny thing about routines…) And that’s when I let everything start to get to me. I twisted the truth in my own head and let it affect me.
My rigidity can be a little much. I hang on to systems, best practices, numbers, and routines like a religion. But, at the end of the day, it’s me. My personality. My internal wiring. And if something is really not working, I can change that. Because, after all, I’m in control.
With all of that on the table, there were a couple of things that I had been pointing fingers elsewhere that really ended up swinging right back to me. (Point your index finger and three fingers point back to you! Eep!) I can’t go into the specifics, but I’ve set some systems to remedy this and with two days under my belt, I feel REMARKABLY better.
Have you ever felt “out of control” in a situation, only to find out that you really were in control the whole time?

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California College Student

Omg Carly! I just started my freshman year of college at UC Davis, and I so badly want to do everything "perfectly". And when I can't do things perfectly, I get so frustrated with myself! I try to control everything in my life, to the point of obsession. I'm still trying to find a happy medium between doing things well and being happy. This post was spot on!

Miranda Haley

I definitely get what you mean. I am in my last year about ready to move onto being on my own, and I feel that I don't have enough control of my life. The truth is school is getting old and I don't own my apartment, but I still have control over what I do for the most part. But it is hard when you feel things are getting routine. Maybe it is time to change it up a bit, if you are getting bored with your routine, even if it is for only a day, just for something new!


I totally Understand. I am senior in college, just registered for my last semester, My mind is going nuts. I have been caught up in so much papers, thesis, GRE prep and LIFE. I also like to have everything under control, well at least i try. Sometimes I think am I happy with my decisions ? is it okay what I am doing? Are my parents going to be proud of this or that? Should I move to another city after college or should I stay home and save up to get myself an apartment? I get stressed and frustrated and that's when I go and sit in central park by myself to clear my mind and all of those thoughts. And I say this is a process I have to go through to achieve what I want in life. I ask myself all these questions and at the end I leave much better and with appreciation of what I am achieving in life. This was wonderful Carly. I am happy to know I am not the only one.


I love being in control too. But I'm learning that being out of control is sometimes exactly what I need to grow. It can be humbling and hard to admit that I am not in control, but honestly, I don't control as much as I like to think I do.


I'm a junior in college and I feel like things are moving so out of control fast lately! I'm trying to slow down and enjoy it, but it seems like everything is piling up into one big due date in the future. And once I get to that due date, one comes up shortly after it with five more things I have to do! I'm enjoying my classes (except maybe Accounting and Business Statistics…ahem), but I'm in a rut where I want to slow down, but at the same time speed past these classes and get into the real world. I'm normally so good at making decisions, so I feel SO weird right now!


lillies & lattes

i cannot tell you how much your post means to me. yesterday was one of those days where i ended up questioning *everything* about my career & the path that I am on because I felt so powerless. waking up to this post? a breathe of fresh air & a new perspective. i completely adore you.

Daniela R.

I know exactly how you feel! I'm about to finish college (on FRIDAY eeek) and heard from the company I was interning in (and loved) that they wanted to hire me (!!!) I felt that my work demands, finals, graduation, the holidays and trying to still make time for my boyfriend and friends were to much, and that everything was spinning out of control. But at the end of the day, I love everything Im doing and even if it means doing some crazy hours like you I believe I HAVE things under control 🙂


It is good that you realize if your schedule is busy because you have taken on many endeavors that it really is within your control, even though sometimes it can feel a bit out of control. That kind of epiphany is a nice feeling.

However, I do think it's a bit problematic to think you have control over everything and it is good to let go a little bit. For example, if you want to be married ASAP, but have no men you're interested in your life at the moment, the timeline on when you will get married is entirely out of your control. You cannot choose when you will meet that person. And most people do not have the luxury of turning down jobs that aren't perfectly suited to them–they have to be able to support themselves, and in the current job market it would not be prudent for them to turn down an offer. Or perhaps a single mom who wishes she could stay home to raise her children, but cannot because she has to work to take care of them. The fact that her husband wanted to divorce her may have been entirely out of her control. A person may want to move to a different country, but the immigration laws in their country of choice are extremely strict and it would be nearly impossible to get a visa there. As much as we may not like it, certain things in life are completely out of our control, and I think realizing which part of our lives are actually within our control and which are not can be very helpful. You have been very lucky, but many people are not able to exercise the same level of control on many aspects of their lives–and it might be good to notice that.

Kate Elmes

Probably one of my favorite blog posts of yours ever! This really resonated with me.

I hope that on occasion you take a minute to think about how many readers that look up to you and how amazing and successful we all think you are.

Thank you for being you and sharing your life!