What do I want from life?
A simple question, but it’s the question that plagues every thoughtful man and woman.
My life hasn’t turned out how I thought it would thus far. I never ever expected I would be divorced before I turned 30, but it happened. I never imagined I would give up a six figure job to pursue a creative career, but look at me go. And I certainly didn't expect to be planning a half-year trip across the world at the age of 31 with no definite plan on where my life is headed.
But here I am. And I'm not saying my life has turned out bad either. But then again, if I’m being honest, I’ve never really put that much thought into how my life was supposed to turn out.
I’ve never had a master plan for anything. I’ve never really known who I wanted to be, what things I wanted to own, where I wanted to end up, or who I wanted to end up with. I have friends that have planned all of these things out, and many of those people are following their path, some of them happy, and a few of them wondering what went wrong. But me? I’ve never had a “path”. I’ve always let things happen to me, and so far I’ve been pretty fortunate.
I’m not rich, however. I’m not married. I don’t have kids and my employment is essentially me writing and scraping together a living with my words. It’s my first earnest try at taking the reigns of my life and seeing what I’m capable of, and believe you and me: It’s HARD, and I fear I haven’t faced enough adversity in my life to this point to see it through.
But I still don’t know if that’s what I want. I love writing. I think I’m passably good at it too, and someday, through practice and hard work, I want to be great at it. But to tell you that it’s easy would be a lie, because it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and there is nothing natural about it.
Many people may envision writers as that prototypical coffee-drinking, comfy chair-sitting, drunk that pours out words onto a page and cares little about what the world thinks about it. Well, in my case, that’s mostly true, but there’s another side of the coin that non-writers don’t see.
Writing is spending hours and hours staring at a keyboard, fighting through anxiety and thoughts of inadequacy with no one to count upon but yourself. It’s spending three days writing four chapters, feeling really good about it too, and then reading all that work a week later and realizing it was all horseshit.
It’s being stuck inside your own head for hours at a time, with no one to talk to and no one to evaluate your work but yourself. That is, until you’re done; but months can go by before that happens, and even then it might all be shit. And guess what? YOU MIGHT NOT GET PAID
So, is this what I want? Right now, fuck yeah it is. And it feels great to say that, despite the hardship, the grind, the constant doubts, and the looks my friends and family give me when I tell them that writing is, in fact, my job and career. No, I’m sorry I'm not selling real estate, or engineering plans for a building, or installing furnaces and water heaters. I’m creating and building things with nothing but my mind and words on a page, and it is difficult work, and I’ve worked my ass off my entire life, given up half of the things that I own, rented out my place and moved from my home of ten years to give me the freedom to pursue this. I haven’t taken any half measures, and I’m proud of that.
But back to the question: Is this what I want? Do I have everything I want in life?
I wish there was an easy answer to that question. You see, I don’t value things that I own. I never have. I toss things aside, throw things out, mistreat the things I buy, and I absolutely love downsizing. I’ve essentially been anti-materialistic from the day I made my first buck selling shit I owned on the driveway of my childhood home to other kids on the block.
Furthermore, I’ve never truly come up with an answer on whether or not I want kids. Before, when I was still married, it seemed like a natural progression of things and I didn’t have to put much thought into it. Now that I’m divorced, I’m not so sure anymore. Now that I have the choice, I haven’t the fucking slightest. And for many people my age (30+) that don’t yet have children, it’s a question that many of us struggle to answer truthfully.
Do I want to get married again and settle down? I still don’t know. I keep telling myself that when I meet someone and fall in love, I’ll have the answer to that question. But I’ve been single for over two years, not from a lack of dating, and I honestly don’t know if I have the capacity to love. I don’t know whether I even truly know what love is. Sure it’s kind, it’s patient and all of that other stuff you hear at church weddings, but isn’t it a feeling? A knowing? I’m afraid it’s something that has escaped me my entire life, and it’s strange to think that I may never find it.
So, as I meander through this thought experiment, I have come up with a single realization:
I DON’T KNOW
Life is one big experiment for me right now, and I’m literally taking things a day at a time. And while it’s liberating, it can also be really shitty too, and the doubts I have about my future are too many to count.
So, I’m moving to Southeast Asia for a while, removing the comfort of family and friends and security and giving myself an opportunity to grow and maybe answer some of these big life questions. Am I going there to “find myself” like so many people who have their “shit together” ask me? Fuck yeah I am, and please sir or madam, remove that shit-eating grin from your enlightened face before I jump over the to your side of the booth and “find myself” with my ballsac resting in your glass of Long Island Iced-Tea.
After this trip, who knows where my head's gonna be at? I could drop writing altogether, or I could find that elusive thing called love on the other side of the planet. I might never leave, or I might miss home so much that I’ll spend two or three months instead of six, and perhaps I’ll come home with new clarity and purpose.
OR, I could end up in an opium den, take an unexpected liking to lady-boys and you’ll never fucking see me again.
I really don’t know.
If you're like me and at some point in your life you didn't have all the answers, comment below and tell me your about your wins, your clarifying moments and where you're still struggling. I'm there for you, (wo)man!
And for a bit of context on what kicked this life change into full gear, check THIS post out.