Something strange has happened in the past few months, I unintentionally started on a journey. Actually no, I started this journey earlier, but it was not, until recently, that I realized there was no stopping, there was no going back.
If I think back, I think it actually started in 2014. Things were not well for me emotionally. Probably what some would call a mid-life crisis...except, I was nowhere near mid-life. Something was missing, and I started on this search for that something. Fast forward, some years later and after lots of conversations, reading tons of self-help books, and having some pretty crazy experiences (not all positive), I realized nothing was missing. It was just that I kept doing things according to everybody else´s expectations, and instead of creating a life for myself, I created a life for others. I was not doing much of the "wants," I was doing most of the "musts." Musts without wants are a recipe for disaster.
I am not one to give in to disaster. I have always felt that most things have a solution (other than death), and if they don´t, it´s a matter of re-framing the problem. I decided to start doing things that used to bring me back joy. You know, those things that you used to do when you were a child. Those things you did without anybody else telling you to do them so. The things that brought you joy. I wrote, I found a group of girls to play basketball with, I started a dance class, I started studying art, I started with yoga. I rebelled. I was tired of living everybody else´s life and finally lost the fear of living my own. I found a way to handle the musts and did not let others dictate my wants. It was still exhausting. There are after all, only 24 hours in a day and I also had a full time job and small kids to take care off.
The thing is, during this activity-intense period (that was also accompanied by a lot of critique as if the intensity was not enough), it suddenly became very apparent to me what were the things that gave me energy, and which were the things that did not. I also realized which of the wants were maintainable for me, in this stage of my life. I realized, what were the things that were worth giving a f**k. Art was one of them. I started going part time to a multidisciplinary art study. Not your typical, lots of homework and deadlines, but more of a free philosophical approach to art. I re-discovered this huge part of my life that I had downplayed for so long, due to insecurities, to expectations and to the silly thought that whenever you did something it had to be part of a goal.
So my journey began. At first, tentatively, with the constant doubt and my "impostor" syndrome, then a bit more sure, yet not sure of how. Until recently, when it took off with a fury that I have not felt before. It was triggered by a few coincidences, words of encouragement from those that cared and a couple of opportunities that generated thousands of thoughts, internal battles and more. But I could not talk myself back to not trying. The artist is out of the closet and she is not going to go back in. The journey has began.
I have embarked on this journey. I have a sense of direction, an idea of where I want to go, but that is not so important. Things are usually not as we expect them to be. We assume that the result will be one thing, that we will feel a certain way, and then often, once the awaited moment arrives, everything is different. We do not feel as we thought we would and we feel disappointed or we may feel that it was better than expected. In the end nobody knows.
In the rush of getting to the final destination, we often forget to enjoy and savor the journey. We sometimes miss out on alternative paths because the focus is so strongly on the final goal. Don´t get me wrong, all of this is, of course, relative. We still cannot forget the musts and the goals give you direction, yet we cannot be so inflexible that we become blind to other opportunities besides the goal.
The musts, they must be managed. But they don´t need to determine our wants. They need to be put through a heartfelt analysis: Are they REALLY a must? Why? Who benefits? Who doesn´t? What is the worst that could happen is this must is not done? These musts, are sometimes taken too seriously, specially in this time and age when we run too fast, when everything is a rush. If we just took a break and reflected a bit more, we would realize that there is no rush and that there really is not that many musts. It is we, that make it difficult for ourselves and sometimes others, with all of our musts. Then we forget our wants, or we may not even know that we have them, cause the musts have been so ingrained into us that they don´t let us feel our true wants.
The funny thing with all of this is that the musts are so much easier to do, when you prioritize your wants. I found an important want, in art, for now. A big one. And so, I continue my journey to follow my want from today. Going on a direction in a journey that will still have a lot of musts, but they will never again, take full control. They will not take over the wants, because we only live once and I am making it a must to pursue those things I want. I recommend that you do so as well. Think of what you want...and go for it..don´t let too many musts get in the way.