Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Next Big Thing

I think I'm in a rut. Or a slump. Or maybe just a really bad mood that has now lasted for several days. Whatever it is, I know the cause of it but it still makes me mad at myself for letting it get to me when I have so much else going on that I ought to be thankful for.

I realized the other day that for the first time in quite possibly my entire life I'm not working towards something big. I'm not preparing for the "next big thing." I don't have a goal in mind that I'm focused on achieving. For the first time, maybe ever, I'm just sort of living. Surviving. Existing from one day to the next. Growing up there was always something I was working towards--the next grade level up...moving from middle school to high school...getting my driver's license...applying to college...going to college. Then it was finishing college...finishing graduate school...getting married...finding a job...moving. For the most part I've always been so busy looking ahead that I never had time to sit back and think much about the day to dayness of it all.

Then I take a look at my life right now and I realize I'm in a dead-end job that's going nowhere, I'm not in any type of relationship (serious and committed or otherwise) that is moving in any type of direction, I don't even have anything big that I'm working on in my personal life outside of work. I mean, I'm having fun and I'm not unhappy per se, but I don't feel much sense of purpose or direction right now, and frankly, that makes me sad. Sad and frustrated actually, because I like having a plan and a goal and something to look forward to. (And for the record, I'm not complaining about this, or looking for sympathy at all. I'm mostly just reflecting).

So I brought this up at family dinner night last night so that I could take advantage of the wisdom of some of my wonderful friends. I told them about this feeling I have of just existing right now. Of living day to day and of not having something big going on to look forward to. We talked about it a lot. We talked about what it means to be content vs. settling for less. We talked about what it means to be patient, and to trust that there is a bigger plan. We talked about how frustrating it is when it feels as though nothing is going your way, but how ultimately, things always tend to work themselves out for the best in the end.

I thought a lot about what they said and I started to ask myself, what's so wrong with just living life day to day sometimes? What's wrong with surviving? What is so bad about not always having something big coming up, not always having "the next big thing" on the horizon? My friend Amy pointed out that in America, we have come to expect to always be comfortable, to always be happy and to always be content. We are so averse to any type of discomfort, anything that we find the least little bit unpleasant, that we end up basically wishing our lives away by looking for the next big thing to come along. We get so focused on what we need to attain somewhere down the road in order to make us happy, that we completely miss out on the happiness that comes just from being alive and living every day. That's pretty humbling for me because I know I am very guilty of it.

Amy also pointed out that sometimes its GOOD to not have something we have to be working towards, because that gives us the opportunity to take our time and pick something that really matters to us, something that we choose to focus on, as opposed to things that we do just because they seem like the natural next step.

So! I made myself a goal that I'm going to do my darndest to stick to (which should be easy since I don't exactly have a lot else vying for my attention these days). My goal is to do my best to live in the here and now. I want to get to a point where I can be content, if not happy, about my current situation and circumstances. No, this isn't what I want forever and I'm still doing everything I can to search for new jobs and that sort of thing, but until the "next big thing" comes along, I want to be able to find some joy in every day. I don't want to wish my life away waiting for whatever comes next and end up missing out on all the good of right now.

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