Brigitte Lacombe
Opinion

Gretchen Carlson: What I Learned From My Biggest Challenges

July 25, 2017

'We need to work for it'

Last night, I had a dream that I have frequently.

I’m on my way … somewhere. The place I’m going always changes, as do the people I’m going with. But the message of the dream always the same. My bags are too heavy and too many. Even though I’m pulling, dragging, fighting and lifting my luggage, I just can’t seem to get to my final destination. Ugh!

In last night’s version, I was going to Nice, France. I’m not sure why — I guess I read about it recently or just subconsciously knew that it would be a lovely place to go. I was traveling with my husband and two teenage kids, my support system. Our flight was delayed, so we decided to pass the time by playing cards. As the hours ticked by, nothing seemed to be amiss. But then suddenly, we were supposed to be at the gate immediately.

That’s when the dream turns into “the struggle.” Suddenly, my kids and husband are no longer there. I’m all alone. But I still have all of their heavy bags — and I’m responsible for somehow carrying all of them on the long walk to the gate. And, oh yeah, it’s all uphill. It’s like rappelling the streets of San Francisco with 200 pounds on my back.

As long as the journey is already tough, we might as well add a bit more misery. Suddenly, I’m dodging huge plastic balls that people are rolling down the hill like bowling balls in an attempt to take out the individuals making the long, steep climb.

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Sound familiar?

I’ve had this dream — or some version of it — my whole life. I’m sure you’ve have too. It’s the classic challenge of trying to get somewhere fast, but having so many obstacles in our way that it feels like we may never get there. And, as absurd as the dream may be, it’s a feeling we know all too well when we’re faced with challenges in our waking life.

There’s no doubt about it: life isn’t easy — no matter who you are. We often have moments where it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders and no matter how much work we put into climbing that huge mountain before us, it seems like we may never get there.

Of course, the mountain stands in for some sort of challenge in our lives. Some days, it may just be getting out of bed. On others, it may be doing the best you can on a test in school. Or it may be finally finding the courage to say enough is enough.

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The lesson in the dream isn’t whether our fight to get to the top is for something big or small. It’s to realize that a good, happy life isn’t just handed to us. We need to work for it. We need to strap on the heavy bags and take the first step forward in the long journey up the mountain. Yes, we’ll all sweat, complain and wish we were somewhere else (maybe on that beach in Nice…). But we’ll also develop the strength to say: “I’ll make it to the top — no matter what.”

Last night, I woke up — as usual — before I got to the top of the hill in my dream. I’ll interpret that as meaning my journey isn’t over yet. There’s much more work to be done. That work lies not only in my personal life as a mom and wife, but also in my professional life as I focus on my “Gift of Courage” fund helping women and girls be empowered, my upcoming book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment And Take Your Power Back, my advocacy work on Capitol Hill and the next chapter of my life on TV. But the biggest work of all is my quest to feel happy and content and know that I’ve done what I can to live every day to the fullest and be the best I can be.

I hope you feel the same way about climbing your mountains — even when those bags feel damn heavy.

Gretchen Carlson is a former anchor on Fox News and an advocate for workplace equality and the empowerment of women.

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