I am not reckless. I am not even spontaneous. I am logical. I am a planner. I am organized within an inch of compulsion.
I sometimes look at my life and worry that I play it too safe. I’m not complaining; I am thankful for the success & happiness I have found, and I am proud of my accomplishments… but will I regret the stories I’ll never have to tell? Sure, I have some: Winning New Year’s, Being Unable to Learn a Map of Budapest, or The Night Graham Had a Plan (tidbits that mean nothing to you but so very much to me), but am I skipping out on others that could shape me into an even better ‘Me’? When I look at my life, it is like I’ve been working down the standard checklist.
- High School: Check
- With Honors & Scholarships: Check
- University: Check
- A Degree in a Respected Profession: Check
- A Degree with Immediate Employ-ability: Check
- Summer Work in my Appropriate Field: Check
And after school I went straight into a job which I could have stayed at for the rest of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t make every decision based on what I’m supposed to do. I quit that first job after a year and spent 7 months unemployed. 4 of those months I was backpacking through Europe, living the dream. It was one of the greatest decisions I ever made; you really do find out important things about yourself during an experience like that and I have memories that mean the world to me. The other 3 months were spent job searching. During that period of resumes and interviews I turned down multiple positions that would have been great: in my field with comfortable pay & benefits. But they weren’t exactly what I wanted to do. I was adamant that I find a job that wasn’t just a paycheck; I had to love it. I had to be inspired. It would not just be a job but the start of my career and I was determined that these first steps continue to be in the proper direction.
And now I go to work each day and dedicate myself to that job. I strive for the reputation and skills that will make me the best; the one people go to, the one people rely on. Check. What scares me is the rest of the checklist…
- Work for the next 35 years at this job (or at least in this field)
- Buy a House
- Get Married
- Have Kids
… The constant push towards your Ultimate Goals …
But what if I’m not sure the standard checklist is right for me anymore? There’s nothing wrong with that checklist, but is it me? How will I know if I don’t know what my ultimate goals are? So far I’ve lived my life so typically but, at the same time, I don’t feel like I’m typical. I love my home but does that mean this is where I should always stay? I love my job but does that mean I have to do it forever… or even for all of right now?
I make a goal of enjoying the now, because I am such a planner. I know that I could get lost in ‘what could be’s or ‘one day’s and stop paying attention to the ‘what is’. My friends and I try to take advantage of the random festivals and events in our city. I travel whenever possible. Especially lately, I have had so many quality interactions with people who are important to me… just enjoying our time together. But am I being lazy to just rest on that and not push for new things? Out of the box things? I added a quote to my journal that reads, “I have the insane need to be where I am not”. My roommate told me this is sad in its unsettled nature but I wonder if we have to look at it that way. Can’t it be enticing? Can’t it be exciting? Can’t it mean adventure but also comfort? Why does it have to mean I am not happy to be where I am? Can’t it mean I just also want more? Am I allowed to want more when I already have so much?
The thing is, I don’t have any of the answers to these questions. How can you be sure that you will be satisfied with your success when your goals are so clouded? How can you be logical in your decisions when you don’t know what you want… or need…? How do you plan your route when you don’t know where you’re going? I really don’t know. And that’s scary. But, again, maybe it can also be enticing. And exciting. Full of adventure. And comfort. Maybe staying where I am isn’t lazy or ‘safe’ but comfortable and happy. Maybe making a change isn’t reckless but brave and full of possibility. Maybe I don’t have to have it all figured out yet.
Perhaps living in the now means realizing decisions don’t have to last forever. My current life doesn’t have an expiration date. I can live it forever. Or I can put it on the shelf for a while, to come back to after experiencing a different one. Which presents a different problem, one that I guess I am lucky to have: How do you choose what’s next when everything is possible?
Love & Luck,
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