Someone once shared a quote with me:
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson
Recently, life punched me in the face. Hard.
My plans tend to look differently from most. Rather than plot my moves I tend to envision different realities. What will my life look like if I keep this job? Move here? Stay with this person? I have a million different “plans” or ideas of what I’d like my life to look and feel like factoring in all these choices I could make.
For example, when I was deciding whether or not to move to Cambodia I looked at my current situation. If I stayed at my job or took one I was being interviewed for at the time I could save some money, get a fancy apartment, buy nice clothes, go out to fancy dinners with friends, etc. If I took the job in Cambodia I didn’t really know what to expect but I knew it would be an adventure. I chose the adventure and it offered a whole new, diverse set of variables for me to factor into new potential futures.
Like I said, I might not have had a solid plan in place but I had factored some variables I didn’t really want to lose. The past month has been a struggle, trying to stop the bleeding, if you will, shaking it off. I’ve been struggling with a lot of different emotions; doubt, insecurity, anger, while trying to piece what I left back together to make a new plan.
The Tyson quote reminds me of a conversation I had a while back at an event at the 1961, way before I started working there. It was almost like a networking event, which tend to cause me serious anxiety, not that this one didn’t, but I went anyway. I had recently hit a wall inspirationally. I worked 9-to-5 with a few freelance projects on the side but my heart wasn’t really in anything. My weekends weren’t much better, spent out with friends partying until the wee morning hours. By Sunday night I felt more exhausted than refreshed. I felt like I was on autopilot, just hovering along without really going anywhere.
One of my friends (who was also quickly growing tired of this routine) and I decided it was time we branch out and expand our friend network to include those people we never see out, because they are, you know, doing life things. So when I saw the event post I knew we had to go.
The gathering, Choices: a conversation, was about probably exactly what you think: how do we make decisions given all of our different choices?
Before we really got into the discussion we had an icebreaker: talk to someone we didn’t know and share about why we were there. My palms instantly started to sweat. I wiped them on my cat-dress (a dress with cats on it, not a dress for cats – unlike the cat-socks at the $1.80 Japanese store which are in fact, socks for cats) and approached a non-intimidating looking woman. I began to relax as we casually chatted about ourselves, what brought us to Cambodia, and ultimately to this event. It’s been about a year since that conversation and I couldn’t tell you her name, or why she was in Cambodia but one thing she said to me has stuck: I’ve been going along, doing what I think I want until the universe knocks me back.
Growing up in a Christian household in a Christian community I am very familiar with this line of thinking. We think we know what’s best for us but God has a way of interfering when you stray from His plan. We think we know what we want and where we should be and what we should be doing but if we stray from our path the universe (or God, whichever you choose to believe) finds a way to get you back on track, and not always in the most gentle manner. We always think we know what is best for us and it hurts when you’re told “Nope. Move along.” And it only hurts more the longer you fight it or linger on it’s memory.
The past couple weeks I’ve been trying let go of what I think I want and focus critically on the things I know I need in my life:
- a supportive community of friends
- more frequent contact with my family
- a routine made up of healthy practices
- a career that fills me with a sense of purpose
- time for my creative endeavors
- spiritual reflection
It’s hard. I’ve been spending a lot of time alone, examining all of the things I have thought I needed against those things I actually need to feel fulfilled. This doesn’t mean I’ve been able to simply move on. Letting go is hard and doesn’t feel natural. I want to be selfish and want everything to work out the way I planned, but we don’t always get our way. I wrestle with my emotions, part of me wanting to wallow and hide away while the other part gets sick and tired of feeling like shit.
I stumbled across another quote on the Blogilates Instagram (part of my new, healthy routine):
I’ve been keeping this in mind, sometimes repeating it to myself over and over. I’ve been given so many choices and even though right now it seems like everything is slipping out of my control maybe it’s just the pieces of my life falling away so I can see what I should be doing more clearly.
p.s. I’ve been illustrating more than writing recently, check it out: awkwardandaware.com