Sunday, October 6, 2013

Unattached

My mom recently told me she thought I was holding myself back. She thought I was adding too many restrictions to myself—that I won’t do this thing for this reason or that thing for that reason, etc—and not taking enough risks. I know the reason she said this was mostly because she wants me to be able to find a better job and to have more opportunities to do things. I have to admit that I felt somewhat bothered by what she said though.

I know it is true that in some ways I have actually held myself back. I think I’ve had some really good reasons in doing so, but I also know that holding myself back is not entirely the reason why I haven’t moved along in life as much I should have, or would have wanted or liked to, by now. I have taken many risks and stepped way beyond my comfort zone many a time. But I have also come up against personal politics, a lack of job openings, and in some circumstances, my own ignorance. My circumstances, to some extent, have just been largely out of my control. I haven’t liked this. I’ve hated it, I’ve prayed relentlessly about it, I’ve worried about it, I’ve asked for advice, I’ve taken advice, I’ve tried to learn from past mistakes, and I honestly feel like I’ve tried my best with all of it. It just hasn’t been good enough though.

When Mom said what she did, it just made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. With what she said, along with a few other things that has happened in the last few months, I feel like she blames me for not being further along. When it comes to holding myself back, yes, I will admit that in some ways I have. I don’t want to move a hundred miles away or to another state. I like where I live. Besides that, I absolutely hate the thought of being away from my family like that. I know I don’t have enough courage to be so completely on my own, so far away from family and friends. Keeping those things in mind, I have held myself back some.

I tried explaining some of this to Mom. She understands, but not fully. She’s never really liked living around here, so she just thinks I’m nuts for actually liking it. She told me she thought I was lucky (Me? Lucky? I couldn’t wait to hear her thoughts on this). She said I was lucky because I didn’t have any attachments. I don’t have a wife, I don’t have any kids, I don’t have family right now that just has to have me around, I’m not in school anymore, I’m not indebted in any way to anyone or anything that would keep me from moving… all in all, I’m free to go where I please and do as I wish.

I’ve thought about all of this a lot. I know my Mom is right. I do have that sort of freedom right now. But in knowing this, I can’t help feeling somewhat sad about it and in some ways not wanting it. I honestly thought I was needed more, and it kind of sucks to find out that apparently others don’t think so. And that just makes me feel so unappreciated for the things I have done for them. I know this isn’t what my Mom wanted me to feel, but it does make me question just how close we really are, and how close I might be to others.

I know what my goals are, what my dreams are, where I eventually want to wind up, and I do believe I am on course for getting where I want to be in life. But it is slow going. And it is easy to want to give up. The trick is to not give up though. I believe the worst thing I could do right now is to just run off any ole place just to get a quick fix. It wouldn’t be a fix. It would just be some short term solution, throwing me off course, and causing me more problems than not.

I know my Mom wants good things for me, and I know she is tired of seeing me try for something that is so slow achieving (and it has been tough), but in this one regard I do believe she is wrong about what I should do. I honestly do believe that if I just keep building up, keep working hard, and keep having faith and patience to get where I’d like to go, I will eventually get there. And that option will be so much better for me and for others around me than taking some short term quick fix.

Having said that, I do feel tired though. I know I’m not doing certain things right, and I’m not just talking about in trying to find a job. The thing is, I really haven’t wanted to care about a lot of things that I know I should care more about. I’m tired of caring. And I know how horrible that sounds, but it is the truth. I’m so tired I just don’t want to care. In this, I know I need God’s strength. But it goes much further than that. I just don’t feel right.

I keep trying not to think too far ahead, but to rather take one day at a time. In this, I know I need God’s hope. I know that’s something I’ve not felt much of lately: hopefulness.

And I know I’m having a hard time dealing with loss. In the last few years, I’ve lost a lot of things. Things I cherished in my childhood, things that shaped how I think and feel about myself, dreams and goals for my future… my grandma. I miss my grandma terribly. She was such an important part of my life. She lived across from me almost my entire life. I was so used to seeing her and being around her. Now that she’s gone, a part of my life just seems empty. I feel like a part of me was torn away. I feel that way really in all the things I’ve lost.

And I hate getting older. I’ve never liked the thought of it. I don’t want to lose people. I don’t want to see one dream after the next come crashing to an end. I don’t want to see and feel my body age.

I turned 30 this last spring. I think it shows on my face. I do look older, more worn, less energetic. My hair keeps getting grayer, my eyes tired, my joints more sore. It terrifies me, the thought of getting older. Even worse, however, is the thought that I will not live to be very old. I have always had a very strong feeling that I won’t live a long life. This, to some extent, is an even more terrifying thought, because it makes what time I do have seem all the more urgent. And I feel as though I’ve wasted, intentionally and unintentionally, a lot of that time. At this point, I had hoped to be so much further along than I am. All combined, however, either outcome makes me somewhat panicked feeling about my future.

“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?” – Luke 12:25

I think about this verse a lot. I know I’m worrying too much. In this, again, I know I need God’s strength and hope. I need faith, too, that everything, regardless of outcome, will be as it should in the end.

How much longer must I wait though? How much longer before I can begin living as I’d like to live? Will that day ever come? If not, then what? How do I accept my life being something I don’t like?  I find all of these questions beyond my answer, but ones that carry so much weight.

My mom may be right. Maybe I do hold myself back too much, and maybe I don’t have any attachments. But that’s not what I want, or how I wish it was. Regardless of any faults I might have, this is not where I’d hoped to be in life. This is not how I had hoped my life would be. And yet, even in that thought do I find conflict, realizing that maybe what I want really isn’t in some way what is best for me. Again, how do I come to accept this? When will God ever lay this upon my heart, if it is true?

Perhaps what I really need to do right now, more than anything, is to try to learn how to be better content with the present. God, I know I need your help though.

2 comments:

naturgesetz said...

Brandon, you know what you want, and you won't settle for a quick fix. That's good. But I think you should realize that there is no guarantee that you will get what you want, even if you are patient, and refuse to settle for something that doesn't lead to that goal.

What I'd suggest is looking at the opportunities that open up, not merely on the basis of whether they advance you toward what you want, but also on the basis of where they actually could lead. Consider whether that could also be worthwhile. Would it be better to have that than to hold out and never reach the goal you have set for yourself?

Remember, also, that even if you accept something that doesn't lead to the goal you've set, that needn't prevent you from continuing to look for something that would lead to it.

I can understand not wanting to leave the area where you live. I've had the same home town all my life (I'm 70), and I don't want to leave. But my experience of being away for college and grad school, as well as a number of trips has made me realize that there are many attractive places in this world. Indeed, almost everywhere other than a slum has its good points. So I think if you gave yourself a chance, you'd find another location pleasant enough.

And moving away doesn't mean no further contact with your family. There are all the means of communication, and surely you'd be able to go home for holidays and vacations as long as you wanted — although I'd suggest traveling to new places some of the time.

So I'd say, listen to your mother. She has your best interest at heart. She loves you. And as you retell it, what she says makes sense.

Brandon said...

N,

I think maybe I should have been somewhat more specific concerning my goals and wants. I can sacrifice (and have) a lot of those things. But concerning career… this is the one area I feel the most frustrated about. I went back to school in ’08, graduated winter ’10, put forward such a tremendous amount of work into getting my degree, and yet I still haven’t been able to find a job matching my degree. Mom thinks I should be more willing to look outside of my county, region, and maybe even state. However, I know my best chances are still just to keep on course, with my foot already in the door someplace, than to run off and try someplace else with even fewer guarantees. I have tried in other places, but the market is just so overwhelmed right now that unless your foot is in the door somehow, you’re just not going to get hired. The problem is that I can’t afford to be out on my own, living someplace else, trying to get my foot in the door like that. I honestly don’t think I’d have much luck getting hired anywhere else at the moment. And the only way I will ever get hired where I’m currently at, is just to stay on course. Frankly, neither option is very appealing though. I don’t like the thought of moving off, but I don’t really like my current circumstances either—one scares the heck of out me, and the other just makes me feel stuck. I will concede, however, that I am a coward. I know there are other places I could probably move to and enjoy living at, but the thought of it truly does scare me. I’m too sentimental about my hometown, including my family’s land. I don’t feel too dissimilar to how Scarlett O’Hara felt towards her home place in the movie Gone with the Wind. It holds a deep connection to me. And I know that as close as I have been to my family, it would kill me to be away from them so much like that. Regardless, and even with those thoughts, I have considered and even been willing to move to a few other places. But getting back to career, it just really bothers me to think that I might not actually be able to put my degree to good use. I’ve worked so hard for that dream, and felt so pushed by God in it, that to just let that dream die and to go off and do something else (which I concede I really might have to do) is just so incredibly frustrating and depressing. And then I have to wonder, what else is there? What else can I do? I’ll be perfectly blunt, I really don’t know. But as for family, if I did move off, I know myself well enough to know that that would probably not be such a good thing. It takes so much out of me to stay engaged and involved with other people sometimes, and usually it really is my family that helps bring me out of that state of being. I don’t think they’re aware of this, but just by being close, being around, they help me to break back into some level of social activity. I worry if they’re not around what would happen. Would I be less likely to bounce back from those moments? As I said in this post, it just feels and seems as though I have so many questions and no real clear answers or paths for what to do. And I am sure some of this is just worrying more than I should, maybe in some ways even a bit too much resistance on my part as well. I honestly am trying to keep all of my options open though. But I know I still have to take into account, at least to some degree, what I believe will work for me and what won’t. Thank you for the advice. I always appreciate your comments. Feel free to send me a few more lines anytime. :)