This feeling has absolutely fascinated me over the past six months.
(I've been dying to write about it. I haven't quite had the ammo for full piece - and it is probably still a little weak - but I woke up at 3:57 this morning full of energy (only about a half an hour before the alarm was actually set) and I knew I had to find some time to put this together.)
Every person on the planet has made a series of decisions to get themselves to where they currently are. Whether you know it or not, and whether you were intentional with your decisions or not; they have created the YOU that you are right now. Even if you don't agree with someone or something - there is an incredible amount of beauty in each and every human's story of how they got to where they are.
Every second of the day that you spend, you spend getting better at something.
It is either work, or raising a family, or reading, or studying, or exercising, or on social media, or watching TV, or following sports... the list goes on, but the bottom line is that the "essence of you" is a product of how you have spent your time plus who you spent it with multiplied by your attitude toward that time spent. You are perpetually getting better at SOMETHING. The SOMETHING is your choice.
I have friends who play amazing instruments, write gorgeous songs, snap breathtaking pictures, edit tear-jerking videos... friends who bring friends together and make good times great, some facilitate ideas and see the world as Playdough. I have a friend who I have actually never met, who wanted to be an editor, so she spent time and created a website and then asked people to write pieces for her. Now she edits writing like no one else I know. Most of these things, I will never be able to do, because I don't choose to spend my time doing them.
Notice the word choice, I didn't say, "I am too busy for them."
"Busy" is a decision. I've sworn off using the term "I am too busy." I think it is a cop out and a really poor euphemism for "I don't want to do that."
Often I am asked, "How do you run so far?" - the answer is simple - I have spent a lot of time running, thinking about running, and planning my days/weeks around running. The catch is that I am mediocre at my job, often neglecting friends who like spending time with me, and will never be able to foster a meaningful relationship given the time I put into it- none of this will change unless I change where I invest my time.
This is what makes major life changes so hard and heartbreaking to deal with. Whether it is a break up, loss of a pet or a loved one, change of career... whatever.
You've spent so much time and energy invested with something else (job, pet, person...) and you've not only allowed that thing to to change you and your life... but you've willingly invited them to change it - then welcomed the change - then told yourself it was good.
After the loss, whether it be death or a break up, you are forced to go back and reevaluate why you made the decisions that you did. And it is a vicious circle because are you are reevaluating these things, you can no longer relate or confide in the people or groups that you once found so much meaning in. You can't reach out your person anymore, or go down to the dog park, or, on a very basic level, even find meaning in the fact that another person on the planet values the things you are bringing into the world.
There is resilience and growth in finding new things and people to place value in, though. Appreciating what some thing, some person, some event, or some goal has brought into your life, realizing that it changed you in ways that you wanted at the time, but recognizing you'll learn and grow more in new ways with new goals and new people.
The magic comes in being proud of what you have become and being proud of the journey you are on. Check in with yourself as often as you can to make sure you are on the path you want to be on. You have earned everything you have become... but there is always room to grow... no matter what your starting point may have been.
I think the trick is to recognize that there is actually no "finish line" to your journey. You are never going to get to a magic place and time where you say to yourself, "Ahhh, this is it! I have everything I want and I am done now."
The caveat to that last line is that you can actually have that moment and magic place whenever you want it by simply taking a breath and a quick second to realize all that you DO have and all that you have become.
It's easy to get caught up in someone else and their journey. They have spent a ton of time (maybe even dedicated their life to) being good at things that you'll never be good at or even spend any time trying to be good at. These days, it is easier than ever to get jealous of these things that other people do or have - just flip open Instagram and you'll be bombarded by people telling you how great they are, what they value, and who they like.
If you spend your time getting caught up in the journeys of others, without the same allotted time for yourself, you'll likely find yourself angry or sad most of the time. You'll then spend time taking it out on other people, screaming and beeping in traffic, yelling at people because you're right and they are wrong, or being rude to the Poland Spring delivery man because the delivery was late. This is also a vicious cycle because as you spend time being pissed off at people... you also get better at THAT. So again, I say, check in often with yourself and your intentions.
It takes effort to be happy with what you have.
On a personal note, I wish I could play an instrument, I wish I was better at my job, I wish I kept in touch with people and friends better... I wish I paid closer attention to street signs in Boston so I didn't have to budget $250 a month for my car getting towed or parking tickets.
My appreciation right now comes in a great group of friends, being able to run seemingly long distances, writing about how I feel, and biking everywhere. That's just who I am and what makes me happy right now. It is where I spend a ridiculous amount of my time.
So if you truly aren't happy or proud of you, take a look at where you spend your time and who you spend it with. These are the simplest things and you need no skills whatsoever to change these things... just a conscious mind and active intention.