Recently, I was tearing my house apart looking for some film camera equipment I haven’t seen since our move to our new house five years ago. While I was looking, I ran across a journal that started in 11/2006 and ended in 8/2008 in which large chunks of time are not accounted. I was thirty-six in 2006, my daughters all still living at home, my grandmother and mother were still alive which was essentially a whole other world for me compared to today. I read through most of the journal entries and was confronted with some truths about myself that I was not thrilled to learn.
Painful Truth No. 1 – I’ve spent an inordinate amount of my life since age 11 worrying about my weight, body size, calories, what I eat, how I look and today I’m still doing the same things. The same vicious cycle. And guess what? It hasn’t fixed much of anything. It’s been pointed out that I should probably go back and read my older blog posts. That I’ve been doing the same things over and over. I use a food journal, I quit, I swear off diets and scales, then I go back. You get the idea. This realization made me realize that it was time to just give it all up. It hasn’t worked long term. It’s wasted a huge chunk of my life. So fuck it, enough is enough. I will have to retrain my thoughts and start trusting my body. I guess if I get bigger, I get bigger, if I get smaller, I get smaller though I bet I stay pretty much the same size. Either way, I give up. I grant myself permission to be free of all this nonsense.
Painful Truth No. 2 – I ask myself the same life’s purpose and direction questions over and over and over. Should I pursue this college degree? What do I want to be when I grow up? Should I start my own business again on the side? Fourteen years (and more) I’ve been asking the same crap. Maybe I think there is a magic answer out there? This realization was the most surprising. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been asking these questions for this long. Literally, I’m beating a dead horse and now it’s nothing but dust. If I’m asking the same kind of questions, then I’ve found no answers. There is no celestial guidance, no sudden aha moment and my life suddenly all falls into place. I’ve been running in my life’s purpose circle for years. Chasing my tail like a dog and never quite catching it. I’ve pondered over this for several days, trying to figure out how I can let go.
Obviously, I’m a classic over-thinker which I hear that is common especially in introverted people. This painful truth is not so easy to resolve. I feel a great amount of anxiety when I consider letting go of this useless behavior. Maybe this over-thinking is a security blanket that if I quit trying to find my life’s great purpose then I must acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, I don’t have some great worldly contribution. That I am ordinary and like everyone else for the most part. That I might just be average and mediocre never writing a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel or curing cancer or making a stunning mark on this world that will be remembered in history books. When I consider that statement, I realize, I don’t even care if I’m in the history books and really rather I was not immortalized in a text book. What is it that I feel must achieve and why the continual push for excelling? I don’t know.
But it is time to stop another one of my useless behaviors. It’s time to stop thinking and get more into living, doing instead of mulling over my thoughts for hours on end. I can live my life or I can think about my life. I chose to live it. I grant myself the permission to stop over-thinking about my life’s purpose and live my life, freely and unencumbered by vague expectations that come from who knows where. Living in my thoughts is a safe place to be, a place where there are no real risks because you never leave your mind. It’s safe that way but safe is boring and I’d been complaining about where is the excitement in my life, why am I not like I was when I was younger? Well, because I quit taking risks and branching out. I’m afraid to look stupid or fail or both.
I’m grateful that I found that old journal even if I haven’t yet turned up my old camera equipment. I’m grateful for painful truths as they help to guide me to more positive ways of living. Now, I just have to put what I’ve learned into practice. Wish me luck friends!