I’ve had entirely too much introspective thinking time as of late. It hasn’t actually been all bad, it has given me a chance to refocus on my goals and actually define what my real goals are verses what I thought they should be. Overall, introspective thinking generally rocks, but occasionally it also leads to the realization that the things you’ve been placing so much importance on aren’t things you actually care about. They are just the things you’ve convinced yourself you’re supposed to care about.
An example of mine is my so-called “career”. I say so-called because it’s really just a job, but once you get to a certain age it feels like you’ve failed at life if you don’t start calling it a career. So I have a career, not one I picked, rather it was the only place that would hire me after I’d been a stay-at-home mom for four years which is the career equivalent of dropping off the face of the earth. I like my job well enough, but for quite a while I thought I needed to keep pushing to make a good job into a fulfilling career. This isn’t really fair to the job, it’s just there to pay the bills and get me out of the house five days a week so I don’t go stir crazy. I shouldn’t hang all my hopes and dreams of being successful on something I just stumbled into, but that’s pretty much what I’d been doing.
It be easy to put the blame for this on society for giving me an unrealistic understanding of success. According to the media, success is all about power suites and luxury vacations. If you don’t have those things then clearly you have failed at life. So, what happens when you realize that you don’t actually want those things? It’s a bit disorienting to say the least.
Here I am in my thirties, still scrambling to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Of course I’ve always wanted to be an author, but that has always been more of a dream than a goal and always secondary to somehow finding success at a “real” job. Lately I’ve realized what a shitty thing that is to do to myself. Clearly it’s time to get my priorities in line and stop trying to force myself into someone else’s definition of success. If I want to be an author than I need to focus my efforts on writing instead of on pursuing goals I never meant to set for myself.
This isn’t about making grand life changing decisions, it’s more about making small every-day choices that let me find my own way to feel rewarded. It’s about letting go of the idea that the only way to make something of myself is to try to fit into a narrowly defined mould of what other people find successful. Sure I might have to skip out on the business trips and the flashy pant suites of female executives, but I never wanted that stuff anyway so I think I’ll find a way to cope.
The first step is letting myself treat my job like what it really is, a day job that pays my bills. Of course I’ll still need to put forth the effort to get my work done, but I don’t have to waste any more time worrying about how I can force prosperity out of it. I can use that time to focus on the things I really want to achieve and actually get somewhere with them. Time management!
The same is true of this blog in a way. I tend to over analyze any topics until I’ve watered down my opinion enough to keep from offending all but the most conservative whiners in the audience. Trouble with this is that at some point I end up not saying anything at all. Luckily it has come to my attention that I am extremely unlikely to take up a sudden interest in holding public office or indeed any high-profile position where my musings might come back to bite me in the ass. As such, I can now use colorful expletives and share my demented thoughts without fear of repercussion at some indeterminate time in the future. A time when I can only assume sentient robots have used the internet to enslave humanity, assuming the zombie apocalypse fails to wipe us out.
What I’m actually saying here is that I’m reconciling myself with the fact that I’m not going to be able to make everyone happy. Frankly, trying to keep everything I put out into the world tame enough to pass for mentally stable is already exhausting. So, as an experiment, I’m going to try going at this without all the self-imposed filters. There is a small chance that if I just get out of my own way and focus on the things that really matter to me I could at least make myself happy. I’m pretty sure there is an overpaid lifecoach somewhere who would say that in itself was the true measure of success. Of course they’d probably be saying this from the deck of their yacht.