Am I Running from Something?
Think back on a time in your life when you were making a big decision. The kind of decision that disrupts everything – your relationships, your routine, years invested on a certain path, a huge commitment that would feel impossible to break.
For some people, it may be the partner they’ve picked to marry, for others it may be the day they dropped an application in the mail for a Master’s program they couldn’t afford, and for a small group of people it could be the decision to quit a fruitful career to pursue their passion to play the trombone or write a book or save elephants in Thailand.
Now think about how you felt in that very moment. The split second in time where it was yes or no, left or right, pressing enter or delete, mailing that check, telling a boss that you are putting in your two week notice… you know, the moment you remember more vividly than anything that happened after that point in time.
How’d you feel? For most, it’s that butterflies-in-your-stomach, lump-in-your-throat feeling where you’re not sure if you’re going to throw up or start crying. It feels like you’re completely out of control and the master of your universe all at the same time.
Maybe this feeling is familiar to you, maybe not. But in my experience, it’s these kinds of decisions that become the titles for the “Tables of Contents” of our life. Each big decision introducing a new chapter in your personal memoir that brings unexpected twists and turns for your readers, completely throwing them off the path your last chapter took.
Just when they thought they had you all figured out… insert plot twist or cliffhanger.
As a kid it wasn’t obvious to me, but my obsession with these moments was probably pretty evident to my parents when as the seasons changed so did my interest in hobbies or my hairstyle or the sports I was playing or my wardrobe – and most importantly to me, my bedroom decor.
My dear sweet mother knew that come Spring while I was ready for the new year and subsequent new lease on life, I would have a Sherwin Williams color palette and new sheet set picked out ready for her to just open her checkbook.
Since I was always dubbed the “creative” of the family, she went with it. The only stipulation was that I had to shop at K-Mart, as she was looking to reduce the costs associated with my excessive whims.
So much of our society is designed around and puts pressure on finding a passion (with pressure ironically being on the opposite spectrum from passion), investing time and money in it, becoming successful and living “happily ever after” with this identity we’ve created for ourselves.
But what if your passion is finding new passions?
And what if you’re not a fan of this identity 10 years down the road? How does that work out, logistically speaking? Does that mean you will forever be chasing after dreams that can never be fulfilled or endlessly checking the “novice” category in your reinvented life?
I think it’s quite the opposite actually, as it takes guts to change… to explore… to put yourself out there and really suck at something new.
This is why as a successful adult I quickly became addicted to travel. You see, travel could be categorized as one hobby, but yet as part of this single interest you could always be visiting new places and experiencing completely unexpected and peculiar things… right? It’s a perfectly acceptable, stable interest that 99% of online daters consider interesting.
If you’re anything like me, you probably find yourself making excuses for your commitment to indecision.
I should be settled down with any of the dozens of men I’ve dated over the years, you might say. I should get a job I actually keep in a career I genuinely want to nurture, counting the hours in my cubicle while I responsibly contribute to my 401K so “one day” I can do what I really love.
But as much as you tell yourself it is, that “future” of yours isn’t really promised, not even the slightest bit. Any day now I could get hit by the M15 bus crossing Bowery in Lower East Side Manhattan. You want to do something? Now’s the time, buddy.
I recently heard a writer turned literary agent turned comedian turned actor turned podcaster say..
“I make creative career changes as though I am running from something. As though I’m being chased by the law.”
At first glance it may seem like a negative thing, someone running from aspects of their life that don’t make them happy in pursuit of something new and different, but it’s not that at all. It’s consistently stepping out of a comfort zone to chase something greater and scarier – an act of bravery, really.
Not running away from anything at all, but chasing an unfamiliar life with no guarantees of happiness or certain success… taking serious chances of failure, embarrassment and missteps.
So for those that think travelers are running from their lives back home, from something horrible that's happened, from that piece of the life puzzle they are missing, or from memories they want to cover up like divots in a piece of perfect turf...
Is it possible that those not challenging themselves and their choices to embark on new adventures, or hobbies, or relationships, or careers, or acts of self improvement (or whatever it may be), are actually the ones running from something?