Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Envisioning the Future

It's hard, right? To look into the future and "see" what it will look like, the way all self help gurus want you to. It's as if you should be able to clearly see yourself doing all of the things you want to do. It should be as sharp as your HDTV and you should believe it immediately. And they're all going to "give you the tools you need" to get there. And you're picturing this svelt, yoga-doing, stylish CEO of  a mom who balances her job and her kid and her husband and her dog and her charitable work perfectly and still finds the time to have brunch with her girlfriend and still finds the money to spend $500 on a pair of shoes that she'll wear once to a wedding to impress the chick her high school boyfriend left her for in 1997 when she was just a schlub writing poetry in a flannel shirt and workman's pants and beat up old Vans. And you're sure as you listen to this self help guru that you can do it. And then three weeks later, the image has become blurry and you need those future shifting glasses back and they're not there because you've finished the book. And then what?

I propose that this woman who's being fantastically created in our imaginations is not real.  Oh sure, she's something to strive for, and don't get me wrong, I will damn well make sure I'm balancing it all at some point, but if you're picking "this woman" who you should be, you may just lose sight of who you are.


Yes, the first step in any self-help regimen is identifying who you are.  And once you do, you're supposed to be able to "fix" whatever is wrong with that you - the you who can never find the time, doesn't make enough money, is just disappointing - and move on from that you, the you who you were before you decided you were unhappy.  There is validity in wanting to change to better your life, and I'm in the process of doing so myself right now. But the other day, I was in the car and an older punk rock song (or really, punk rock opera of sorts - NOFX's The Decline) got me pumped up. I found myself missing those 16 year old Doc Martens and the cursing of the establishment, that soul searing satisfaction you feel when you're sure someone else is to blame for all of the world's problems, and realized that I don't have to be nostalgic for that person. I don't have to lose that person because she doesn't fit the picture of what the gurus and society as a whole expect me to be as a professional woman, a mom, a wife, a human.  I can still have me and change for the better. I just have to change that which I actually want to change, not that which I think others might want me to change.


In my rambling here, I'm trying to say that you should, absolutely, envision your future.  Identify what you want to do that you're not doing already and do it. But don't forget who you are - not who you were.  You can leave parts of yourself that no longer serve you on the road behind the truck, but that which makes you feel, that should hang out somewhere near you, maybe in a box, a trunk, a bag, until you decide it's a great car ride home to listen to some punk rock and take it out again. 

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