A year ago at this time, I sat in a Starbucks, escaping what had come to be my previous life. I threw myself into my work, about which I was, very luckily, extremely passionate, and I decided one of the ways that I would propel myself forward was by starting a blog. I titled it The Thinking Specialist: The Musings of a Heterological Teacher. That day, I threw together a scattered and poorly written account of what I thought it meant to be a teacher, intertwined with an anecdote from a bar that I thought to be funny, and even though I didn’t communicate it clearly, I know now that it was all with some sort of perceived goal in mind.
When I started this blog, I think I was using it as a means to find some security and stability. I thought that if I didn’t have security or stability in other parts of my life, that maybe I could create it by solidifying my professional life and maybe even creating something to which to aspire long-term. Maybe I could aspire to being a writer. Maybe I could aspire to being a master teacher. Maybe starting a blog would help me become discovered as a writer, and propel me further into that part of my career.
And so I continued, passionately writing each week, gaining some readers, gaining praise, and gaining a sense of what it mean to be a writer. But the dangerous part of it all was that I had always kept in mind the end product–what it would look like when I was “good” at blogging.
I think about these end products, these intricately fantasized visions that I seem to conjure in my crystal ball. Instead of setting my mind on the present, I choose to set my mind on the future, oblivious and unappreciative of what has been laid before me–or what I’ve laid before myself. Perhaps I had grown accustomed to being unhappy in my present, and dreaming about the future helped me get through the days and look forward; perhaps it’s not all bad, and having a goal-oriented personality has served me well thus far. But what I really think is that it’s a combination, or at least it should be.
I’m realizing now, that in this current version of myself, I’ve focused far too much on the end-goal, that my motives for action are too heavily reliant on the perception that I will gain something in the future–that I would be working towards what I perceived as this “happiness” that I haven’t yet achieved. It seemed to me that in happiness I would find safety–safety that I had not yet achieved, nor really ever achieved, for that matter. And so I continued and have continued to work towards this abstract goal that we call happiness, that we call a future, instead of appreciating and accepting what is in my life currently.
Safety, Security, and Happiness
In retrospect, it seems like I’ve been externalizing what it means to be safe, secure, and happy. Instead of going inward and looking for these things within myself, I’ve gone outward, trying to find methods for validation. And in those moments where I was going outward and looking for this validation elsewhere than from within, I have denied myself the opportunity to be fully open and honest, not necessarily just with others, but with myself.
It’s never seemed so hard and so scary, though–and confusing, for that matter. Being vulnerable to oneself means to focus more on the present, and focusing on the present means an absence of thought about the future, but a lack of focus on the future seems irresponsible to me. It’s almost like there are certain things about which we can dream and think forward, but that there are other things that are only destroyed by too much forethought.
About what can I dream?
To what can I aspire?
What goals can I set for myself without completely robbing myself of the beautiful present that I have already created thus far?
How I can I be happy now, instead of waiting to be happy in the future?
But in a way, I’m really glad that I’ve externalized this year of my life–the ups and downs, and the in-betweens–because it’s allowing me to see that meticulous planning and worrying is only done in vain. It’s kind of ironic, actually, because it’s really been the process of blogging, the process of letting go, and really the process of processing through each day–taking each blog post as it comes and not planning for the next one–that has helped me to grow and develop as a writer and human being. It’s the idea that I could not have planned this product–this current version of myself or my blog. It was something that had to unfold and occur naturally.
And it’s beautiful. Maybe at times tragically beautiful, and at other times gloriously beautiful. Hell, maybe at other times it’s not beautiful at all, and that’s okay. I am, and always will be, no more than the sum of my experiences, and I can no longer see myself in terms of the discrepancies between my present and my perceived future.