Thursday is my birthday. I’ll be turning 27.
I thought it would be cool to write a post called “27 Awesome Things I did while 26” or something like that. I sat down and I began to make a list. And something weird happened.
While I did do an amazing amount of awesome things this past year (3 international trips can hardly be beat), what really stood out for me as I wrote that list weren’t the major events themselves, although they were highlights for sure. Instead I kept thinking about the choice part of those events; and how those choices have defined this past year. I’m not going to lie, this past year is a culmination of what has been a series of tough years. In terms of where I’ve been (mostly mostly mentally) over the past three years, this one has been the best, but I can’t say it’s been easy. It hasn’t so much been hard in a fighting-tooth-and-nail-sense so much as making lots of choices, changing my mind, then making some more choices.
Choices are fucking hard, just for the record.
But in the immortal words of Dumbledore, “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
(And I think the same could be said for our choices vs. events in our life)
I decided to apply to grad school.
I got in, but decided not to go.
I decided to travel. On my own, and with friends. I decided to travel lots.
I chose to put myself out in situations that were outside my comfort zone (mostly in the emotional sense).
I chose to have fun.
The last one might seem oh-so-duh (like jeese Bronwyn you went traveling, obviously you had fun!) but for me it was a big one. It’s not that I’ve never had fun in my life before, but between trying to get into university, wanting to get into dietetics (a very competitive program) and wanting to just generally be “a success” I spent a lot of time in my late teens and early-mid twenties either a) working my butt off doing the “right thing” or b) feeling anxious that I wasn’t working hard enough or doing the right thing enough to get to the next stage of “a successful life”.
Then I realized that being “a success” is pretty vague. And actually every time I achieved a major goal, I didn’t quite feel how I thought I would feel. Don’t get me wrong, I felt pretty proud and pretty awesome, but a lot of the things I’d done didn’t leave me filling as fulfilled or satisfied as I thought I would feel.
So I spent a lot of time reading about that sort of thing this year (afterall if there is one thing I know it’s that I’m not alone in my experiences, and if others have wisdom to share on similar struggles, then let me hear it).
I realized I thought I knew what would make me happy in the future, but I didn’t actually know what would make me happy right now. Right this very moment. And so I didn’t really know what would make me happy in the future because, well, barring any sort of head injury or weird personality disorder appearing in my life, I’m probably going to be the same person I am in this moment 10 moments from now, or 10 thousand billion trillion moments from now. Perhaps it sounds odd, but when you’re focused on getting to that next life thing, it can kind of trap your mind in a constant future-thinking cycle, where happiness is somewhere out there. Because if I think about what I really wanted when I thought about becoming “a success” I thought about being happy, and while traditional success sounds cool (you know go to school, work your way up, maybe go to grad school and get a PhD or work your way up the corporate/work ladder) I’m not actually sure that is what will make me happy.
And I guess if I had to start out being 27 with any kind of goal or intention, that would be it: what would make me happy right this very moment?
So I think for now, I’ll focus on the now, and on doing the things that make me happy, because then I might actually be able to define what success looks like to me.