Over the past year, I placed a big carrot in front of me. I wanted to achieve something I have never had in my adult life, and I focused my attention on that one thing. At the age of 36, I was finally going to be debt free, by making a huge life change, and sacrificing home ownership for the removal of this mental burden. Why am I sharing this with you? Because, it hasn’t happened yet. And in the interim of this will it, or won’t it scenario, I am learning a whole bunch about myself, and my mental health.
It turns out, having a carrot to work towards, is not something that gives me peace. It is just too big a goal, and far beyond my direct control. Thus, I placed my mental happiness on something in the future, and one that was not a sure thing. I am going to tell you with complete honesty, that it came close to destroying me. I forgot to find joy in the day to day. I became consumed with this idea, that my happiness depended on this far off event, and if I just held out for a few more days, weeks, months, then I could finally smile again. Then, I could breath a huge sigh of relief.
I’ve made this mistake in the past. I put all my eggs into a basket, that seems like a sure thing, and allow my mental well being to just kind of simmer, until this goal is achieved. I’ve done this with my career, with my past relationships (maybe even my current one, but that is too close to home to analyze right now), and I just snapped myself out of doing this for a moment longer with my debt.
The thing is, I do have to make sacrifices right now. I have put the exploration of my sexual fluidity on hold. I was so excited to have a first date with a female, but the reality is, dating is expensive and very time consuming. I know this. And it would not be fair or even rational to put myself out there right now. But, as I am figuring out, not everything I do has to feel like I am giving something up. I can enjoy my 20 minutes of yoga a day, with clarity. I can take breaks to play video games because it makes me happy, and my brain needs mental breaks throughout the day. And yes, I feel proud of all the writing and progress I am making working from home part time.
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In the past little while, I have resisted posting pity me social media status’s and it has been difficult. I cried out loud to my partner, that I just wished someone would finally feel sorry for me, and tell me that I have come so far after such a difficult journey. Let me just have one person feel sorry for me, I sobbed. And you know what? He did the complete opposite. He told me that I could be proud of what I had done, and reminded me, that it is OK to take breaks and not work so hard. I don’t have to prove to myself that I work 80 hours a week, to feel good about myself. I can work half that, and enjoy my breaks and the little things. And that my friends, is when I realized that I was using this carrot as my permission slip to be happy. And, well, that is change I am making in my life. I may never be out of debt, and I may never enjoy the financial freedom that I believe I would as a child. And you know what? I very well still could. This isn’t that I am giving up on achieving a goal. Instead, I am trying to be more aware and conscious that I can be proud of myself right now. That I can celebrate small victories with as much intensity as the big ones. And well, just writing that, the lump in my throat went down. I breathed a sigh of relief, and the tears that were brimming as I typed, slowly just went away. I don’t need to spell out all my obstacles and hurdles to you all to elicit sympathy. Instead, I can let that go, and focus on the joy and the smaller moments. Life is what you make of it right?
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