Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Adventure Awaits

Perhaps coincidentally, or perhaps in a funny little twist of fate, it arrived exactly two months before I am scheduled to depart for Paris. It also arrived not a moment too soon, on a day when I was feeling a little down about the state of my life: the lack of progress in my career, the lack of prospects in my romantic life, the final nails in the coffins of some relationships with family and friends. It arrived just when I needed to be reminded that, while my life does contain some crap (whose doesn't?), something wondrous also lies just over the horizon.

My new banner. I'm going to hang it in my office at work.

A few months ago a friend emailed me after reading one of my blog posts that was more or less an expanded version of the sentiments expressed above: that I am unhappy with the state of some of my affairs. He's a good friend from college who sometimes knows my inner workings better than I do, and he saw past my complaints about feeling frustrated and asked a simple question: what would make me happy? I immediately envisioned all the things I want for myself: a skyrocketing career with a clearly drawn path, a stable and loving long-term relationship, a vibrant social life. Easy.

And then he told me to throw it out, to accept that the vision I've had for myself for the last 2o-something years is only that: a vision. To embrace the idea that my lived reality may not ever match that vision. To truly grieve the departure of that vision. And finally, to redefine  happiness for myself in a way that aligns with my real life.

I didn't want to hear any of that then. I still wanted that vision for myself, and in many ways, I still do. But I am starting to grapple with the idea that what I have always envisioned for myself may not come to be. My career may always just be "good enough." I may not ever find another long-term partner to share my life with. I may always stumble through periodic social doldrums. 

I may have to accept that in all of that, I can still find happiness. Even if my career isn't meteoric, I still genuinely like most of my coworkers and appreciate having a flexible schedule that allows me to pursue my hobbies and better health. While I don't have a romantic relationship, I'm not letting that hold me back from doing so many of the things I want to do, including travel and try new restaurants and generally enjoy life. And I'm joining new social groups and making new friends, so that when there is a big lag in my social calendar, I have plenty of people to turn to.

I still don't want to let the old vision go, and I'm certainly not ready to grieve it completely. But perhaps by slowly, gently loosening my grip on it, I can create a little room for a different vision of happiness to creep in.

Perhaps I can find happiness in knowing that, if I slowly embrace this new vision of happiness, a new kind of adventure awaits as well.

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