Stop Forcing It

When Things Don’t Work…

Today I used my bank’s drive-thru ATM, and it was an experience in futility and ridiculous expectations. 

I put my card in the slot. Punched in my PIN number. Made it to the Options screen.

And there was no option to make a deposit, no button to push to make this machine take my cash.

Immediately I was annoyed, pushing buttons: Back. Select. Back. Select. I took out my card, put my card back in. I’ve used this bank’s ATM’s a hundred times – I’ve used this exact ATM at least a dozen. Normally you don’t even have to enter into the actual menu to do this (enter your PIN and the first real option you’re given is to make a deposit).

My mind was spinning with ways to explain: Maybe it’s out of service? Could it be malfunctioning? What if they’ve decided drive-thru ATM’s aren’t going to have this capacity anymore? 

I also felt convinced I was not the first customer this had happened to, which made me wonder why they couldn’t have put out some sort of sign so I could have not wasted my time. If done correctly, they could have even made me smile. But nope, not my bank.


So I tell it to give me my debit card back, and when it does, I realize that everything around me is red and black, but the card I just got back? That’s sky blue. 

Blue like the basic card you get when you open a business account at a different bank. Blue like a card that allows me to check my account balance at any ATM in the world, but saves me from the foolishness of depositing money into random tiny money counting gnomes that aren’t going to be able to give me credit for it.

Blue like a card that was never meant to do what I was asking it to do.

Slightly humbled, I put that one away and tried my trusty red card. And guess what? The first thing it asked me was if I wanted to deposit money. Just like I knew it was supposed to.

When I asked it to do what it was meant to do, it executed flawlessly.

When I tried to force it to do something it wasn’t capable of, it failed miserably. And in addition to failing? It made me crabby, resentful, and impatient. 

With the case of the swapped-out bank card, I’m pretty understanding. After all, you can only expect so much of an inanimate object that’s used to being used on Amazon. My bad, nothing to see here!

But when it’s me…I don’t have that much grace.

When I was working at a job that clearly wasn’t a good fit for me…

When I had a major I was pretty sure I didn’t want to major in…

When I was having a lot of questions about faith and spirituality and how all that works…

When other people treated me poorly and didn’t respect my boundaries…

My starting point tends to be that same Hannah who kept jamming the wrong card in the slot: Select, Back, Select, Back, Eject, Restart. All the while feeling frustrated, mostly blaming myself, and having the definite sense that something was broken. (At the bank I was pretty sure it was the machine…in my life I tend to assume it’s me.)

I’ve had a really bad habit at looking around and assuming that if everyone else has an ATM that’s flawlessly depositing their money (or they love their careers, are passionate about their major, have the faith thing on lock, and have boundaries for miles) that I’m broken if it’s not happening for me too.

But lately I’ve started to realize two things: 

  • I’ve tried to show up in the same place and way as other people just because I thought I was supposed to, and it rarely works out well (Go to the blue bank if you want to use the blue card!)

  • I’ve felt the pressure of expectations that were never mine to meet, and it’s made me miserable (These expectations are for the red card, and they have nothing to do with me!)

Life tends to work best when we show up fully, excited about the gifts and abilities we actually have. When we honor our own intuition about our own hopes, dreams, desires, gifts, talents, passions – that’s when everything starts to click into place.

So if you’ve been putting the same card in the same ATM for a while now, and the honest truth is that you’re just really, really tired of feeling broken…

What if you just stopped?

Stop trying to bring something into being that clearly isn’t working. Allow yourself to consider who you actually want to become.

Stop treating yourself as less than, broken down, or dysfunctional just because you can’t perform well at something you weren’t designed for.

Stop forcing it.

And if you can relate (or if you have a really funny ATM meme), jump in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!


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