(photo by Sacks08)
Last night something obvious hit me very suddenly, the most obvious things always seem to appear that way. I realized that part of my difficulties is accepting the fact that I am changing. Not physically (though that too), but in how I view the world and what I want out of life. I already knew this to a certain extent, I know its normal completely, but the tension is that I still like the plans I had for who I was to be when I was 18 or 22. Now a series of (good) decisions have taken my life on a completely different path. It doesn’t mean I am required to give up on my old dreams of traveling with the UN or National Geographic as a career, but it does mean that if I chose to pursue that it would be an overwhelming amount of work as well as a lot of negotiating a lifestyle change with J. Hard work I’m not sure I want to do.
While I’m still excited by those dreams, the travel, the meaningful and creative feelings of that sort of job, I’m not that person anymore. That’s difficult. To some extent its like mourning. I’m still in the denial stage, I haven’t accepted that my desires have changed and that changing doesn’t make my past desires wrong nor my future ones inadequate.
I have been stuck in one place (spread across two countries) since getting my Masters degree. I had finished checking all the boxes I had to complete before I ‘did my dream life’ and had no idea where to go from there. I had already made the decision not to live a nomad lifestyle and to be with J. I had already realized my dislike of bureaucracy that is inherent in traveling to troubled countries and dealing with international organizations. I had started to realize that my dream didn’t match me anymore, but I had no idea where to go. I also felt guilty that I had ‘failed’ to do what I always desired.
I was always very big on ‘not changing’ as a child/teenager. I vowed never to cut my hair. I vowed to keep my teenage diaries and never act like my mother. I vowed all sorts of things that I’ve, of course, broken since then. Just because it was silly of me to make these promises on my future self, it doesn’t mean there’s no old pain when I decide to break them.
So last night, while tearing up in bed explaining to J why I’m having such a hard time trying to figure out what I want our life to be like, I realized that it is in part because I have never let go of my old dreams. It is because I still love them (I haven’t changed that much). But you lose most things before you’re finished loving them. Perhaps tonight I’ll write out my ‘alternate’ life and seal it in an envelope, giving us our own space to move forward (the other on a parallel plane of existence).
I chose a different fork in the road, several actually, I’m still not sure what I want my life too look like. It will be different from what I expected–it will be much more about life outside of work than getting all my worth from my career. It may be much more like the life I grew up with than I expected (the life I yearned to out-achieve at 16). It may also be healthier for me. I may also be happier. I need to respect that these changes are real and valid. They are me and not some future impostor.
No one is particularly good at change (no one I’ve ever heard of anyway), but its part of human experience to learn to adapt. It’s funny how change can hide from you even after it’s happened. I can only fully turn to the future when I let go of the past. Here’s to starting to say goodbye and turn towards open possibilities.