Learning to break the cycle of external validation
14 June 2017
There's always something. Whether you're fantasizing about that dream escape or just trying to get a few moments of peace amidst a hectic day, there's always something you think must be handled before you can take care of yourself properly. This may sound easy, but the truth is far more complicated than it seems. As modern adults we all have that to-do list we must work our way through if we wish to end up an accomplished and mature person. Find somewhere to live, land a dream job, meet your significant other, and keep maintaining these things or else risk a bleak and depressing life. And important as it is to strive for the things you want, it's important to prevent yourself from giving too much weight to the external factors in your world. It's those who can't take a moment to reflect and grow are destined to struggle to find true contentment.
This particular brand of struggle is one I know well, especially since I graduated college. Once I was out of school I, like many other fellow recent grads, scoured countless job listings and applied to everything that wouldn't risk my bodily or mental health. And while many of my friends went off on trips and experiences to celebrate their accomplishment, I refused to leave my hot AC-less apartment, convinced I couldn't let myself come home until I secured that job I was supposed to have to be happy. And so I applied and waited for months, just existing in my quiet corner of Brooklyn waiting for that validation to arrive from the world and tell me I had finally evolved to adult status. Cut to almost a year and I'm still here in New York, employed and in a new apartment, but continuing to put off grand trips to London or really anywhere outside of my family's home in California. Because of course at that point I'm just too darn busy to let myself put off my responsibilities for a vacation
It's taken some time, but I'm beginning to see the delusion of delaying the things you want. While we all seek security in our lives and journeys, to wait for the external world to give you a sign you're ready means being able to even see the signs when they're presented (the "two boats and a helicopter" dilemma). And while stopping to take a breath may come easier to some, the idea that it should be treated as less important than our cultural fear of failure risks dooming us all to suffer. Nothing will ever be perfect in any person's life. There will be work to complete, messes to clean up, political movements to support, and any number of tasks waiting for you from when you get out of bed to when you collapse back into at night. All you can do is life your life in a way that enables yourself to a moment or two of happiness, even if it means leaving some things on your checklist unfinished.