Read This When Your Life Feels Messy

man holding pair of ski poles in front of trees
Oziel Gómez / Unsplash

Life is messy.

This isn’t groundbreaking news. Yet for some reason we get so tied up in unimportant things day to day that we start to simplify our own lives down to graduate college, get a 9-5 job, save for retirement, and so on.

I recently read an article that turned my whole thoughts on life upside down. In Lessons from a Great Thinker, Margaret Hefferman says “… Alfred Chandler ensured his business success by recognizing that you can’t understand business by simplifying it – you have to master its complexity.” For some god forsaken reason, I read this sentence and felt as if someone had punched me in the gut.

I’ve been stuck in this rut of thinking only about the future, never stopping and appreciating the present. I feel like my life has just become planning, planning, planning. But planning for what? What happens when you realize that all this planning just numbs the memories of today, and makes the present seem unimportant? Why should we have to plan each day, week after week, year after year, until we have nothing else to look forward to?

I’m a recent college graduate, so I constantly get asked that dreadful question: “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?” As if I have a reasonable answer at 21 years old. News flash: SHIT CHANGES QUICK. If I even bother to make a plan today, I promise it will be different tomorrow.

What I can’t wrap my head around is why it isn’t enough to say that I want to see places I’ve never been, I want to laugh and drink wine with my friends, I want to go skydiving, I want to stand under the aurora borealis, I want to find my true inner happiness and peace. No, this question is purely about a career. Why is it that your career pretty much sums up who you are as a person? When I’m on my deathbed, I damn sure won’t be thinking, “Gee, I can’t say much for my life, but I sure was a great employee.”

So how do you break this bad habit of living in the future? No fucking clue, but I’ll sure let you know when I figure it out. As of now, my goal is to attack each day as it comes at me. Be real and honest with myself and others about what I want.

I always tend to get hung up on this idea that I haven’t truly ‘found myself’ yet. Kristen Ashley said, “We’re all lost. The best chance we got is to wander this life with the people who matter.” Life is complex, it’s hard, it throws curveballs at you, and we’ve just got to take it one day at a time or we’ll drive ourselves absolutely mad. Maybe this whole crazy charade isn’t about finding ourselves, but finding others.

It’s time for us to live in the present. Don’t succumb to the mundane. Appreciate the friends and family you have by your side. Take a hot bath with a glass of wine, take a deep breath, and just accept the point you’re at in life. TC mark

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