Is there some basic form of unadorned wanderlust? Like on a scale of “just really need to get out of the city for the weekend,” to, “drop me off on an uncharted island and here’s the paperwork to cut my social security benefits for my family members…”
Seriously. I have known a few folks of the latter spirit, and I get it, but that’s not me… Yet.
Last summer I had just been hired at my job of choice, the business I had wanted to work with since I first moved to Atlanta three years ago in 2013. It was a feeling of, “Great! I’ve made it… But now what?”
This season was full of new feelings that contrasted the normal outcomes and perceptions I was used to. I felt accomplished, but I hadn’t thought out where I would go from that point or how I would apply the experience I was gaining there. I so enjoyed the type of work I was doing, getting to be outside in the sunshine for the majority of my work day, talking with people about plants and garden design, having an awesome chill and responsible team of coworkers, and getting a good deal of exercise on the job… These were all incredibly satisfying aspects of my work for me.
Even outside of work my personal and social life was rockin it. I was experiencing a renaissance in my dancing as I had reconnected with a lively Zouk community that was giving me what I had been missing from my previous dance circles. I had made a solid break from an incredibly unhealthy relationship prior to that and was liberated to simply do things for myself and my own happiness.
For the next 3 or 4 months, I was loving living in Atlanta more than ever, to the point of thinking that I never wanted to give up what I had found in my community and in myself. I remember often tossing around the question, “If I had to give up all possibility of ever Traveling to new and old places and the rest of my life looked exactly like the past three months, I think I’d be completely OK with that and perfectly happy doing exactly what I’m doing now with exactly these people…”
What?! Did seriously I almost just click the devil’s stopwatch? Listen. I don’t fucking settle down. Anywhere. Not even in my favorite places on earth. Stay in one place from here on out for the rest of my life? Stop floating around at only 27 years of age? Never go back to the Southwest? What about my family living 3 states away? What if I get stir crazy? What if my friends here leave first? Did I really just genuinely feel like …staying?
Yup, sure did. Made me nervous as hell, entertaining the thought of laying my inner nomad to rest. As you can already guess that impulse did not hold weight immediately, but it was important for me to sit with that feeling and try it out for once in my life. I gave it a fairer shot than I ever had; and it took maybe 72 hours tops for that notion to shatter into bits.
Family, partners, and friends who had projected the belief of “work is work and you can’t be too picky,” always received a wall of resistance from me. My recent partner would literally say this to me on a regular basis. I guess in so firmly moving on from that relationship it helped me feel like I was drawing an immovable viscous line in the sand between me and all the mindsets of living that I wanted nothing to do with. Ever. Fuck complacency and being a simple kind of man. I knew if I didn’t force myself to ask very scrutinizing questions about my current circumstance and experience, it would be all too easy to just keep being pulled in all the directions of my immediate surroundings.
And honestly, I was beginning to realize that though this season was doing great things to balance out lots of crazy low points of the previous year (which I won’t get into here), it still wasn’t balanced in itself or giving me all of what I needed in the long term…(read: I wasn’t balanced or giving me all of what I needed in the long term).
The unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are not being true to yourself can undo you. I’ve seen it happen to many friends. Some work towards their career paths so diligently, unwaiveringly, but at very high costs of their health and sanity. I had ungracefully battled with burnout a few times before, and I see the condition as a symptom rather than a root problem. Many of us see burnout as a thing that we need to keep away, that we just happen to be feeling that way and that we can’t let it get to us. Numb out that burnout! I won’t say that this isn’t necessarily untrue all the time- there are definitely times when we have to know when to press on through waivering energy, emotions, adversity, and dry spells. But you know what else makes us waiver? The threat of losing the “security” of a good thing. It can seem counter intuitive or even deplorable to give up good thing because you have some big ambition that things could be better. You might even shame yourself into thinking that you have “grass is greener” syndrome or you just need to learn to be content. Again, there’s no easy equation for answering this question, and everyone has to answer to themselves at the end of the day.
Me? I will say that through this season I have reconciled my relationship with anxiety through this past seasons. No really, anxiety is on par with any of my most trusted friends now. And by listening to it closely instead of trying to kill it for making me suffer, I chose the explorer’s route, picked up the dice and rolled for another round.