I never used to be content.
I had a revelation last night. I was having a conversation with my former roommate, Nanuka. She and I had lived together for less than a year, and there was always the hint of a friendship there, but back then we were roommates first, and friends second. I haven't seen her in two and half years, and in the span of a few hours we had a deeper conversation than we had ever had when we lived together.
There was a moment of startling clarity that, as it happened, I realized I had to write about, because it's integral to my journey. Nanuka asked me how I've changed in the last two years since we've seen each other, which is a question I hadn't asked myself. It caught me off guard, but I wanted to dig deep and find the answer. It came in the form of how I look at the present, the future, and how I evaluate my priorities.
I used to seek outside validation for nearly everything I did. I think my 365 day Instagram challenge kind of grew from that, as did my desire to move abroad, just to say that I had done it. But being abroad has had an unintended consequence. I've stopped wanting to share so much with the broader world, instead focusing my efforts on what I want, rather than what I think I should be wanting. I've also become more cognizant of my own self-imposed mental barriers when making decisions about my future. As I look back, I didn't make any decisions I regret, but I know that moving forward I have a feeling of clarity that wasn't there before.
Additionally, I was always focused on what was next. I hadn't often been as present as I could have been. Being forced to plan out logistics in Chile for our various moves and travels has actually made me less future focused, because everything that needs to get taken care of in the future, gets taken care of. On the contentment piece, those past anxieties of what the future would hold, or how my experiences would compare to my expectations, created a significant mental distraction. I'm not completely present, even today, but I feel that I'm making progress, and I'm happy with that.
It took me moving to another hemisphere to figure out that I don't really know what my next step in life is. That used to freak me out, not because of my own fear, but because of my fear of what people thought of that. Perhaps it's because right now, life is going according to plan, and I no longer feel the need to seek approval or share it with everyone I know. When I told this to Nanuka, she had an incredible pearl of wisdom: "When you're doing what you actually love, it doesn't matter if other people know that you're doing it. The need to brag or show off falls away." I guess that's kind of where I'm at right now. But I'm not trying to brag about it.