So, it turns out that I am not alone: 40 and with a sense that I ought to be doing more, doing something. A feeling that I have not achieved all that I am capable of. But coupled with a big question mark – what the hell is it that I want to do? What is ‘the thing’?! Which means that today, I have been thinking about that nagging feeling itself and what really causes it. If we don’t know what else it is that we desire or what else it is that we want to do, why do we feel dissatisfied in the first place?
Are we really missing something from our lives, is our happiness really incomplete, or is our understanding of achievement shaped by an inability to let go of what we think other people expect? Such that we cannot shake that sense of “I am 40, I ought to have land, drive a flashy Mercedes, go on exotic holidays and wear designer clothes”, when actually, if you look deep inside, you love your home even if it doesn’t have a play room or a cinema room; you love camping and hate the idea of sitting on a beach in the Maldives with nothing to do, and jeans are just jeans….
We are externally conditioned to always compare ourselves to others; we are eternally tempted to want bigger and better. Congratulations and admiration are so easily tinged with green – a feeling of jealousy and sometimes even resentment that you won’t admit but which speaks to you anyway.
Yet isn’t this just part of the human nature; isn’t this what sets man apart from beast? The will to survive, to succeed. That ability to advance, that yearning to question and develop. Were it not for the human instinct to strive, we would not enjoy the quality of life afforded to us today.
And if that’s the case, does that mean we are programmed never to be wholly content? Are we programmed to always be wanting more? Is that sense that we ought to be a better version of ourselves and achieve more, simply a biological reaction rather than something real and meaningful?
Do I really want to be a writer or is it just a label I have given to my human instinct to always strive, because again, as a natural consequence of my human being, I hate the unknown; I need to explain everything?
If I really want to be a writer why have I not taken more meaningful action? Why do I allow things to distract me and get in the way?
Or is this whole conversation in itself, just a very convoluted way of inventing another excuse not to take action?!
My conclusion today is that the nagging feeling which many of us share is real and needs listening to. It must be whispering to you every day for a reason. But the hardest thing for us to understand, is what it is calling us to do and that is because of the reasons above. It is astonishing that it is so difficult to hear what our hearts really want. The noise generated by comparing ourselves to friends and colleagues (by thinking we ought to live up to expectations defined by others and not by our own wants or loves), drowns out what we most desire. And because it is so challenging to find our way, we continue to ignore and neglect that calling.
I have been consciously wrestling with this for almost 2 years and I am still struggling to define my true aspirations, but I am so glad that I started listening to my nagging feeling. I am so glad I started to explore the reasons why I felt uneasy. Asking the questions themselves and peeling back the years of experience, disappointments, judgments and expectations is uncomfortable; equally the steps I am taking towards my future puts me in situations I sometimes want to run from. However, I would rather be doing something than arrive at 50 and regret my inaction and another 10 years of drift.
ps thanks to Pinterest for the image