I did not expect that traveling alone for a month would change me as profoundly as it did. After all, I took the trip in celebration of being admitted to grad school. My top priority of the trip was fun! Even so, between the train rides from Venice to Florence to Milan and my EIGHT HOUR delay from New York to Reykjavik, I had a lot of time to myself to think.
And when I say that I thought, I thought. I thought about everything and everyone. It was the first time in years when I wasn’t five minutes away from feeling anxious or stressed about something, anything. I didn’t realize how long it had been since I thought that clearly because I rarely gave myself time to.
I was frightened at first by all of my newfound realizations. I thought I had my life figured out, only to lie in bed one very hot summer’s night in Venice and realize that I had it all wrong. Everything was too structured. Too predictable. Too planned.
It’s easy to create a plan, especially when everyone continues to ask about your short term and long term goals. Do we have plans because we need to? Or do we have plans because we think we need to? Planning is essential to reach our goals in some capacity; however, plans also stifle creativity. For example, if you ask me if I’ll want a laptop in 10 years, I’ll probably say “yes”. I plan to be writing something in 10 years, and my laptop is more often than not my method to do so. But what if something else comes about? Maybe I’ll want something else that hasn’t been created yet.
Many of the limits that exist are self-imposed.
I had to ask myself if I was then making a solid 5 year plan or if I was instead creating a series of limits around what I think I should be doing and where I think I should be. I can’t tell you exactly where I’ll be and exactly what I’ll be doing because that would only limit the scope of what I could be doing.
It’s difficult to plan for the future that you can’t see. Because I’m not only interested in what I know. I’m interested in what I don’t know.
Even though I’m not back at work right now, I’m back in school. And despite the many years that have passed since the beginning of undergrad, so much of it feels the same. Except that I’m now on the run from my former self. I’m running from the person who couldn’t think clearly. Admittedly, I’m on the run from a state of being. How do I avoid something as intangible as that?
I have no idea.
And that’s what I keep finding myself saying these days. That I don’t know. That I don’t understand everything. And then sometimes I laugh about it because no one’s perfect and at the end of the day what are we chasing? What does it add up to? What does it mean?
I still have no idea.
I have different questions about my path and purpose in life, but I’m realizing things haven’t changed that much. That it’s still dark out there.
Before I acknowledged the fact that I am injured, I would often tell people that I’m a half marathoner. (Runner’s high is real). And the first question I always got was: “How fast did you run it?” I love running sprints, but I have to ask myself sometimes why speed matters. Why does my love for running need to be boxed up and quantified? Does it matter less because I’ve never run a sub 2:00 half? Training for a race is an intense mental journey. Can we unpack that? Why do numbers matter? In the end, we may connect them to our self-worth, intentionally or inadvertently, but what do my personal metrics prove to the world? If I decide they don’t matter to me (which I haven’t but that’s not the point), then they definitely shouldn’t matter to anyone else.
If I got caught up in this metrics game, I’d have no blog or Instagram anymore. I would’ve stopped running the first time I got passed by someone twice my age. I would have discontinued the things I’m passionate about because I didn’t hit a number.
This again brings me back to question of what is it exactly that we are chasing? And what is the why?
So, I guess for now I’m saying that my goal is to always have a why in whatever I’m doing. A why that doesn’t involve measurements for the sake of measurements. A why that challenges me and strengthens me as a person. A why that allows me to wake up in the morning with the clarity I had to cross the Atlantic Ocean to find again.