For most of my life I have been naïve and shortsighted. I have forgotten to plan for more than love. I have expected the pinnacle of my achievements to be engaging with another mind, body, and soul, and to find completion and happiness there. I believed everything would fall into place after that happened; that all other aspects of life would follow naturally and complement the bond I had. Love at first sight—true love, a single person for you—what I was truly believing, and though I did not or could not enunciate it to myself, was that love meant happiness, all the time, that there could be no true happiness without love, and that to fulfill my expectations of life all I needed was love.
Needless to say, this is not how life goes. There are other needs, other expectations, other obstacles to happiness, say, a career. A career or a job is an important thing to have in life. One could even argue a career or job is a necessity of life. For whatever reason, my mind was not in that game. Vaguely, to be sure, and I’ve always been relatively aware of dreams of what I may “want to be,” but as those general ideas were shut down— veterinarian due to a no-nonsense book about being a vet that made me realize I would fall into depression, writer as I realized that I was not prolific enough to make it freelance, botanist as I realized I would be in a lab or some random jungle my entire life— I neglected to pick up the slack and think about something new I could pursue. Due to jobs in certain areas, I half-heartedly looked into Human Resources, Staff Education, Pastry Chef, Marketing. I realized I was not quite a good fit for any of those entry level positions and was again at a loss.
By random chance and the good luck of having been heavily involved in student affairs at my university, I realized that I would like nothing better than to pursue a job where I was able to work with student groups and student leaders each and every day, whether that be helping them follow rules or contract a DJ or throw a fundraiser. I wanted to be doing and helping… yes, ‘making a difference’ in the world. So that is what I have decided to pursue. And I think it will make me happy.
Yet just because you have one part of your life settled doesn’t mean everything else will line up cheerfully, according to your wishes and desires. It seems as soon as I manage to secure one part of my life after grappling and tugging and twisting and yanking, and am ready to let my arms fall by my side, a different part of my life snaps from its moorings and requires desperate attention and dedication. I never expected balancing all aspects of life to be easy, and often I experience massive amounts of guilt when I think of how much worse some lives are and how unbalanced they are, without my access to resources such as family and even the place I am living. I wonder how I can let my own trifling burdens weigh me down so much in light of these other lives, these completely different worlds.
As often as you are able to remind yourself of this, though, it is ever so tempting to only compare yourself to those who coexist in the same socioeconomic plane that you do, or those who exist in higher ones. It is much easier to lament one’s position than to let those burdens lighten on your shoulders by realizing it really could get much worse.
I am not suggesting a solution to this problem, nor am I suggesting that you should always make light of your own problems, no matter how trivial. Problems are problems and need to be solved, some in their own manner and own time. I certainly do believe that it is healthy, though, to take a step back and re-examine your existence in comparison to others before convincing yourself you are at the bottom of a pit with no way out.
The crux of it all is I forgot the most basic rule about love: it changes.