A friend of mine was recently bending my ear, frustrated by the fact that she just could NOT seem to commit to something that she was pretty sure she actually wanted.
She’d done the work; thought about the pros and cons, researched the situation, did some serious soul-searching about what felt right to her. Heck, she even took the job hoping that the opportunity that was presented to her would come up; but now that it’s here, she’s hesitating about taking it.
Why do we do this to ourselves? I think I know why, only because I myself have written the book on this subject. Shiny Object Syndrome, Wanderlust… whatever you want to call it, I’ve got it. I realize that I’m a lot like Eowyn, from The Lord of the Rings. (but of course.)
Well for one, I am no man. 😉 (sorry, LOTR insider joke.) But aside from that….Eowyn is an important Lady of her kingdom. She is capable in so many ways, and wants to fight alongside the men when they go off to war. She is told to stay back, that her best place is to lead in the King’s place as he knows he will more than likely die in battle. Most of us would think it’s pretty cool to be entrusted with that role and that being Queen would be the ultimate success, but Eowyn does not want this title; she wants to be free to defend her land like everyone else. She mentions that the only thing she fears is a cage.
That is so me, Big Time. I think it’s a lot of us, especially when we are told to follow our dreams no matter what. When those dreams become the stuff of real life (having a roof over our heads, transportation, food to eat, Netflix) instead of the shiny objects we originally thought was our destiny (ruling the world, owning an island, becoming a mermaid) even though we know these ‘regular’ life stuffs are pretty great, we still yearn for the fantasy. It’s human nature. We still think, even at 102, that if there is even a remote CHANCE that we can live happily ever after with Jared Leto on a yacht, we’d better not encumber ourselves with, you know, living a perfectly happy ‘normal’ life. We’d better be free and easy and ready to hit the road any time. We’d better not COMMIT.
I know, it’s a slippery slope. I am certainly not one to tell you NOT to chase your dreams. But I think it’s important to break those dreams down into feeling states. Ask yourself, not what it is that you want to do with your life, but what is it that you want to feel?
Eowyn didn’t want to fight in a battle because she wanted to prove to everyone that she was strong; someone who is chosen to be the King’s successor is definitely recognized as someone with strength and power. Her ultimate feeling state was to feel free; unencumbered, footloose and fancy. Let’s face it: being a King or Queen is a pretty cool thing to put on your resume and will more than likely get you pretty far in life. But if you don’t like the responsibility, or sending off everyone else to do the work that you’d rather be doing yourself, no matter how cool it sounds to you and everyone else, it’s not for you.
Let’s bring this back to the 21st century—to our planet earth instead of Middle Earth. Take my friend. If I ask her how she wants to feel, she says things like, “Creative. A part of a team. Challenged. Stretched. Secure.” If she looks at her current position at work, does she feel that way? If she thinks about the position she’s offered, will she feel that way? Then I asked her to look at some of her fantasy things that she’s keeping herself open for.
As you come up with feeing states you would like to be experiencing, think about what each choice would bring to you. This would be in a job, a relationship, whatever. Let’s say you’ve always had this dream to drop everything and try your hand at an acting career in Hollywood. Sure, that sounds really fun and ‘actor’ has a pretty nice ring to it when someone asks what you do….but if ‘secure’ is high on your feeling state list, you may want to rethink that. I’ll bet even if you asked established, successful actors they would tell you that their lives are anything but secure….if someone is lucky enough to get (and keep!) a break they may make good money, but that’s when they know they are working. They probably have to move around a lot, too, and be away from their families for weeks to months on end. Not super secure.
Are you wanting to keep yourself available to an old dream? A lie you told yourself, that you’d only be worth something if you did or became something extraordinary? Or something someone else from your past led you to believe you SHOULD be doing?
I realize it’s a slippery slope, my friends….I don’t want you to think that I don’t want you to go for something you want to try, or keep searching for that pot of gold at the end of your rainbow. I just want to make sure that when you get there, it’s what you really want. And that you don’t already have everything you want right in front of you, just wrapped up in a different package.
And to add onto that, nothing is forever. What we are experiencing right now is but a chapter in our lives. You never know what the next opportunity will be, how that story will eventually end. You have a say in your Happy Ending, and it will be happy if you ignore everyone else’s version of a fairy tale and focus on what your heart truly wants, one chapter at a time.
I’m telling you this from experience as well—I left Hollywood and gave up my dream of becoming a ‘rock star’ not because I didn’t have many chances that could have led to that very thing, but because I realized that even if I had ‘made it’ it wasn’t the kind of life I wanted to live. That specific fairy tale wouldn’t have given me the feeling states I wanted and needed. It wouldn’t have led to my Happy Ending after all, no matter how pretty of a bow it was wrapped up in.
It takes work and effort and a whole lotta self-searching wisdom to see and feel what it is we really want out of our lives. We have messages coming at us from all sides, all the damn time. We are told that just having a ‘normal’ job or title or life that isn’t glamorous just isn’t enough. I want you to remember that if where you are at now or what you are working towards is perfectly ‘ordinary’ and is making you feel all the things you want to feel, it’s fucking extraordinary. You can’t get much more glamorous than that.