You Can’t Waste the Day Wishing It’d Slow Down*
I hate conversations about goals.
Though I happily abandoned mine a few years ago, the no-goals ideology is a hard one to hold on to. Because after all, this is America and if you don’t want more of something, then why are you even breathing? There’s also the fact that 95.8% of my friends have achievement addictions that have yielded fantastic results for them. And finally, there’s the overachiever that dominated my spirit the first twenty-five years of my life. I have to stomp her out because she gets way too chummy with the Monster In My Head and thus doesn’t achieve much outside of making me feel like swallowing a bottle full of pills or driving my car off a bridge are preferable outcomes to “wasting my potential.”
Needless to say with this cocktail of elements, goals conversations get a wee bit awkward for me.
So when a friend in a group conversation asked “Where do ya’ll wanna be in two years,” I answered as honestly as I could: “Anywhere but in a strait jacket.” (If being institutionalized does nothing else, it makes you never want to be institutionalized again. The burning image of the neon green “Akron General Hospital” sign outside my room during a 48-hour psych ward stay is often the only thing that keeps me from falling over the ledge.) As the rest of the homies rolled out their far more ambitious and detailed two-year visions, the Monster took its usual loud, unrelenting position: reminding me why I’m not–and never will be–worth a damn.
I survived it. Holding still until the Monster tired itself out and went on about my day.
The following day, as I rode the bus home from work, I came across a blog for INFP types (as determined by the Meyers-Briggs personality test) and did some looking around. One of the key characteristics of my personality profile is an obsession with the Ideal Self.
An INFP is the butterfly that can’t wake up from its dream of being a caterpillar dreaming of becoming the butterfly.
We observe our progression to our Ideal Self as linear much like how we perceive time. However, our Self is non-linear where Past Self, Becoming Self and Ideal Self exist as one. Since all three exist at once, INFPs experience periodic moments where we inhabit our Ideal Self. These periods are extended moments of wholeness where we have a clarity of Self. I call it Waking State. It feels like barely waking and realizing that we’re only dreaming before we fall back asleep again
When I thought of all the mental difficulty I’ve had this summer–I may be *just* below the “I should see a professional” mark I’ve created for myself–I realized most of what was bugging me was the lack of connection to the Self I like to be. With all my material worries (job, the slow but sure impending death of my vehicle, scraping together cash to travel for a good friend’s wedding), I’d sentenced myself to a dull summer of not leaving Cleveland and barely leaving my apartment. The result? An aching wanderlust that had me considering everything from moving back in with my mother to relieve myself of living expenses, to selling all my possessions for a one-way ticket to Seattle to start from scratch. Never mind that I’d never been to Seattle. Minor detail.
I’d only had a few spare moments of true happiness in the previous few days: starting my new routine of commuting to work via public transportation to save my car some wear and tear; discovering that Sara Bareilles (one of my favorite singers) would be in concert 10 minutes from my house on my birthday weekend for $40; pumping new work into the blog; and booking a MegaBus ticket for a day trip to Buffalo next month, where I’d cop a day-long bus pass and see where the day led.
This all came back to me as I pondered my Ideal Self. I realized those things made me happy because they were things my Ideal Self does. She wanders. And takes scenic routes that allow her marvel at the sites. And loves live music. And writes dope shit. She also wears cute shoes (an area I’ve been slipping on for maybe the last year).
There is room for that person, I think–the me I’m always working towards–and the responsible adult I’m beating myself into becoming. I can find ways to inject pizzazz and spontaneity into life without completely falling off the discipline wagon. At least, I hope I can. My mental and emotional survival depend on it.
I guess I never see the things I want as “goals” because they aren’t true benchmarks. But there is a person I’m progressing toward. One who ventures to uncharted territory with a bus pass and no real plans. And rocks out at small venue concerts. And bares her soul via written word.
There’s nowhere I feel the need to be in two years. There’s only more of myself at my best. Better traveled. More live shows under my belt. Another two years’ worth of honest, raw blog material.
And definitely wearing better shoes.
[* - As taken from a line of my current life anthem and Sara Bareilles track, "Many the Miles."]