I am slightly obsessed with comedian Aziz Ansari. I just picked up his new book Modern Romance from the glorious Petersburg library. In his book, Ansari pulls data from sociologists, anthropologists and Tinder-user focus groups that span the globe–from Qatar to Wichita to France. He mines for information about how cultures date and how the fantasy of choice has taken over. He manages to slip in some information about the hunt for “the perfect job” compared to the quest for “the perfect soul mate.” His findings are interesting because they are evidence-based. I am not at all surprised to see that, according to his data, more choices do not actually lead to more happiness.
Lately I’ve been questioning what my higher purpose is on this planet. Now that I am sober, I have the freedom to explore all sorts of choices because I am available to do so. I promised myself early on in recovery that I would work hard to follow my dreams. What I’ve found almost two years in is that my dreams have changed. As it turns out, I am in the “good enough” mind set that Ansari speaks about in his book. Many daters 40 years ago chose partners based on proximity and subsequently participated in life things with a less-than-perfect spouse. Who says I can’t do the same for a job? Or better yet, a vocation?
I realize I am not as important as I thought I was. I don’t mean to say that I am not a universe in and of myself; I am. What I’m getting at here is that my quest to find my higher purpose only yields results when I keep things simple–and keep my ego out of it. The world will go on if I get a shitty job just to pay the bills. Earth will keep spinning on its axis if I don’t find a job that pays more than minimum wage. My purpose right now is to keep my inner peace and to just show up.
I heard my friend say at a meeting on Friday that sometimes he has to say to himself, “You know what? I woke up sober. That might be the only important thing I do all day. And that has to be enough.” I am elated when I hear shares like this one. It takes the pressure off of me to “make things happen.” I tend to put a shit ton of pressure on myself to find a job that reflects what a badass I am–in both my salary and my title. But that rubric of “needs” no longer serves me. Now that I have taken a very part-time job as a high school online electives facilitator (read, mentor) a new world of possible choices has opened up to me. Yes, I continue to write during the day when I am not at school, but I also get to spend time with young people helping to set them up for a great future. My former sponsor told me before I started writing this blog to “remember why I started.” I do remember. In fact, I think about it every day. I started writing so I could help people. Now I see I want to help young people, too. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Today, I choose to apply calmness and rationality to my life situation. I live with my mother, who provides me rides to meetings and helps me get to my job. I am eternally grateful to her for being willing to help me out in the most difficult period of my life. I am filing for bankruptcy in December, because years of people-pleasing to get/keep cars for jobs to get/keep said jobs, to live in cool places well beyond my means, to buy drinks when I had no money to do so–all of that nonsense caught up with me. Simply put, today I choose to participate in a hard reset of my life and my dreams. My Modern Guilt about my Modern Romance with choice belongs in the rubbish bin, along with my old ideas about who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.
If anyone reading this is around my age (29), then I am sure you have had your share of self doubt and impossible quandaries about your future. The best piece of advice anyone ever gave me was that no one knows what they are doing. There is not a single person on this planet who “has it figured out.” Gratitude for the present helps me to see that where I am is “good enough.” A quote I’ve shared before that my friend happened to post this morning reminds me what living my higher purpose looks like:
“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”
I wrote a paper in French about Albert Camus when I was a freshman in college in 2004-2005. I loved that French class, and I pursued a double major in French and Political Science simply because I loved both subjects too much to choose. People told me I chose not one, but TWO useless majors. I proved them wrong by obtaining political jobs right out of college for nearly six years. I applied French when I spoke fluently with Haitian cab drivers after nights of blackout drinking. I showed them.
Though I no longer have political jobs or drunken conversations with drivers from francophone countries, I am happy I followed my bliss when I was in college. Had I not taken the political route, I would have never ended up in Los Angeles. Hell, I may never have gotten to such a stressed out state to get sober, either. The truth is, I may never know. What I hold close to me is that my choices led me to where I am at this very moment: writing to help people, not just to help myself.
According to my good friend, Ziggy Stardust/Nicole (see previous blog post), I am experiencing my Saturn Return. In astrological speak, this means that I am undergoing a huge life change that shifts my perspective completely. Maybe in a few years all of this change will make more sense. In ten years, I might be having a very similar conversation with family and/or friends about how grateful I am I lived with my mother having no idea what I was going to be when I grew up. Maybe good enough is better than anything I could dream of right now.
Maybe good enough is enough, simply because it has to be.
Photo courtesy of uinterview