Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fries or Salad… or baked potato? Can too many options be a bad thing?

Since yesterday I wrote how I was grateful for my options (which I very much am!) but I also realize how they can be somewhat of a burden. Over the past few months, I have been coming to Teen on a weekly basis with grand ideas of what I want to do with my life. It always starts with “All I’ve *ever* wanted is to: ‘insert idea of the week here.’”

She started writing down everything I said, because it was driving her crazy, and the list looked something like this:

All I’ve *ever* wanted is to:

- Live in Copenhagen
- Have a farm with a goat
- Wrap my belongings in a handkerchief, tie it to a stick and wander the world
- Trek in Nepal
- Climb Kilimanjaro
- Work on farms around Europe
- Drive across Canada and visit Newfoundland
- Race the Mongol Rally

I won’t bore you with any more since I’m sure you get the gist. After I realized how often I’ve been doing this (which I believe is partly due to an overpowering feeling of being tied down right now, which I can’t stand) I started thinking about how having so many options can actually be a bad thing.

If you think about people throughout history, until the last couple hundred years or so, we were quite limited. Even 50 years ago most people would get married and pop out kids as soon as they were done high school. Dad goes to work. Mom plays house, white picket fence and all that jazz. Now, especially in Canada and other 1st world countries, we have almost endless options. Career and lifestyle possibilities are incredibly diverse, and most of us are capable of living whichever way we choose. Now I don’t know about you, but for me this can be very overwhelming.

There are so many options; I just don’t know what to choose. I scatter around from one idea to the other, meanwhile not accomplishing any of them! It is clear, however, that I need to get the fuck outta dodge for a while before I lose my mind; which led me to my next question:

Why don’t we do what we love?

We spend an unbelievable amount of time doing things we don’t enjoy. Sure, there are a number of obligations that come with life; laundry, dishes, bills etc. but in the big picture so many of us lead our lives in mediocrity. What makes us hold back from what we *really* want? For instance, when you’re on your death bed and you think back to your life, what would you like it to have looked like? What would you like those around you to remember you for? If there were nothing standing in your way (no time/money/obligatory restrictions) what would you do? Who are a couple of your heroes? Why? And why can’t you be like them?

I believe the answer is in the ever competing fear vs. love. These are two of the core human emotions that we will base our decisions on. For instance, to answer some of the questions above:

I would like people to remember me for being hard-working, fun, adventurous, reliable, well-traveled and someone who achieves their goals. If I had nothing holding me back, no obligations, I would take off and backpack the world. So why don’t I? A never ending list of “I have a good paying job, I don’t want to burn a bridge, I’m in school right now, I have to pay my mortgage…” Basically, I haven’t gone after my dream because of fear. Fear that I will potentially damage my working relationships or be in financial trouble. I’m not living my life fully for the things I love, and I believe this is the obstacle that comes between people and their own happiness.

There are certain precautions we can take to fit our dreams into our routine lives. I could spend all year saving (I actually am) and when my contract ends, take off. I am planning on it.

This is just one example I’m currently struggling with. We only have so many years to live and I don’t want to remember my life and regret never trying because it was easier to keep doing what I’m doing. I guess you just gotta take that risk, do what your heart tells you and don’t look back.

Daily Challenge

Word of the day: Equipoise - A counter-balance.

I am grateful that I get to be an animator for a living.

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