Feb 4, 2011

Forget “It” & The Ground Hog & Try To Balance

I want it all!”
Those four words are engrained in the foundation of the American Dream.  Anyone can have it (whatever “it” is) as long as their willing to work for it.  So, we 20somethings, trudge through school in hopes of finding “it”.  We secure a job in able to work at achieving “it.”  We focus on “it” and we make it our goal, our passion, our dream.
The irony is, that those people who seem most “together,” the ones that are certain they’re going to find “it”, can end up the most lost.  Those people who appear to know the program, the ones that are “on the right track” from the start… they are the ones who risk being farthest from “it.”
I can make this general statement with confidence because I was one of those people.
Smart, driven, confident and determined—all of which sounds good on paper, but can actually be a lethal combination.
When you have these qualities and you chose to focus on the wrong thing; or if you find yourself pursuing the wrong “it”, well then you end up making quite a mess for yourself. 
In our (my) defense, the trouble is that you never really know your pursuing the wrong “it,” until you’ve lost all perspective.  All that damn determination, confidence and wit has you convincing yourself that you’re doing the right thing.  Heading you in the right direction and surrounding yourself with the right people.  I mean come on…  you’re so smart, how could you not know exactly what you’re doing?
(Note the sarcasm)
Once you convince yourself that “it” is the one and only; goal, school, career, car, person, place—whatever it is… once you hone in on “it” and drive full speed toward it, you put on blinders.  Not just any blinders, either, it’s the big dark leather blinders, the kind they put on horses, the kind that blocks out everything in your peripheral. 
Which would be fine if you’re going in the right direction… but what if you’re not?  What if you need a moment to look away or a chance to see the bigger picture?  What if you need a second to assess your whole picture... you can’t do it.  You can’t do it because you’ve put so much pressure on yourself to keep chasing this one “it,” that you can’t give up now.  You’re so close…
In fact, you’re so savvy that you’ve even convinced the people around you that this is your “thing,” your “it,” and you find them cheering you on from the sidelines.  You’ve tricked the bystanders and worse, you’ve tricked yourself. 

So you get deeper into the commitment, the schooling, the contract, the job or the relationship.  So deep that before you know it… that thing is your “it.”  That schooling is your degree, that job your career, that relationship your life, and now you suddenly feel pigeon holed by life.
It’s the “This is it?” feeling. It’s disheartening, like finding out Santa isn’t real, or letting the air out of a balloon painfully slow, until it lays limp on the floor, an unrecognized shriveled version of its former self.

You spent all of that time and effort pursuing this?  You put blinders on for this?  But, by the time you realize “this isn’t for me,” you’re so far in; it feels as if you’ll never be able to get out.
But don’t worry… it only feels that way.
The truth is that, the second you start to look outside of the blinders you’re able to get a good grasp on the real picture.
And the real picture is that finding fulfillment from “it” (job, place, goal, relationship, accomplishment) doesn’t actually exist.  Pursuing one thing head-on is a fruitless battle because that one thing won’t ever be truly enough. We’re programmed to want it all, remember?
That’s the frustration because we can’t ever really have it all.
No matter how good you are at one thing, whatever “it” is… the bottom line is that it’s only ONE thing. Just because you have the job, now you want the promotion, the career, the relationship, the real estate, the bank account… you just keep adding things to your “Want” list. 
Maybe this is why people have always been so fond of that Groundhog Day movie.  Where the same day that plays over and over again.  People like this movie because they identify with it.  The silly comedy hits a heartstring because it portrays the real fear that life will be end up being one mundane routine that plays over and over again. Day in and day out.  We fear we will never feel fulfilled and we will continually chase one goal after another in a tired cyclical fashion. 
I think the solution to that movie… to the conundrum that is Ground Hogs Day, is to remember that life is about ebb and flow.  It’s not about ONE thing.  It’s about TONS of things and the hush-hush secret to a contented life is - balance.  You have to have a little focus on success, mixed with a hint of competition, peppered with a desire to find love and acceptance, and finished with a dash of whatever “it” is that you love.  The real key is to know when we have enough… 

The best recipes are made with tons of ingredients; the best movies (with the exception of Ground Hogs Day) are created with a variety of scenes and vignettes… so why should life be any different?  Forget ONE thing… Forget “it”.  Life shouldn’t be singular; it’s supposed to be a complex plural, so strive for a hearty plethora of spice and pizzazz and leave the Ground Hog out of it…  what does he know anyway?

 "That's the key to having it all: stop expecting it to look like what you thought it was going to look like" ~Quote from Sex and the City