I’ve had this notion in draft mode for about 9 months now, so I suppose it’s about time I pushed this baby out.
Nine months ago, I flippantly said to a friend,
I’m not doing that. I’m post-that.
I think it was the Silver Fox and I think he was suggesting we go to the gym…specifically so he could get into hiking shape for his then upcoming six-week shuffling through Europe trip.
It was a time in my life where I’d been scratching at the professional employment door for the better part of a year like an unwelcome cat.
I was mentally preparing myself for an upcoming summer of gorgeous PNW weather…and dreading the main outdoor physical activity available to me being cycling.
I thought about it for a bit and wondered what my motivation really was.
This old Groucho Marx quote:
I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member
It kept popping up in my mind and casually in conversation. It got to the point where I had to acknowledge it; aka: obsessively think about it.
Admittedly, I didn’t come up with the answer. I think ruminations like this evolve over time. What is important to get to – for me – was the core value that was anxiously raising its hand to say something just outside my figurative peripheral vision.
I’d been applying for jobs I wanted with companies I wanted to work for and maybe getting interviews, maybe not, definitely not getting hired.
When that didn’t work, I changed my focus and broadened my search to jobs with companies I didn’t necessarily want to work with, but knew I could meet the job expectations. Surprisingly, I got the same results. More surprisingly, I was offended at being rejected by companies I held in low regard.
It all reminded me of how true my dating/interviewing analogy has always been. The way you (should) put your best foot forward in either situation, learn about the “opportunity” and then mutually decide whether it’s a good match. Ideally, both parties reach the same decision.
<pause to glare at millennials>
But where do I move on to from there? That scenario – thanks to my own analogy – encompasses dating, too. There I was, kind of at the massive intersection of Work, Romance & Fitness Boulevards and I didn’t want to cross any of them.
Fortunately, I didn’t want to jump into traffic, either. I think that’s a good sign.
I really couldn’t tell if I was broken or protesting. It’s probably worth noting that this overlapped with my nine month haircut hiatus. My mother had gone from niggling at me to get a haircut to being envious of my natural hair flip to quietly telling me that my dad would like to see me get a haircut.
That last one kind of got to me and I started mentally preparing myself to face a haircut. It also got me thinking that maybe what motivated me to work was making my parents proud.
I kicked that one around for a bit.
Then I remembered that my parent’s pride in me seems innate, not earned. It was a realization that made me feel truly fortunate.
I’d written a book that literally dozens of people read.
My parents were proud of me.
I’d taken any job I could get – perhaps the only – just to get off my couch and do something.
My parents? Still proud.
So working professionally to please my parents wasn’t the answer.
Maybe I was asking the wrong figurative question, then?
I wandered back to dating. And quickly ran away from that notion. I’d have to be pretty self-loathing to expose myself to that group of people for answers. Because the answer to the collective question – What are you looking for? – for folks in the dating pool is not
Y’know, an old, out of shape dude who’s adrift and underemployed. Yeah, that’d be nice.
But what I did remember was my dating bar. I expected people I dated to enhance my happiness.
Not make me happy.
Certainly not erode my happiness.
That got me thinking that I should absolutely apply that same bar to my work life.
Then I remembered that I had and quit my last job because it was absolutely eroding my happiness.
And just like a shit boyfriend, behaved the same way when I pointed it out.
I had started this exercise where I’d admitted I didn’t know the answer. I was now at the point where I’d searched for an answer and not found one.
You know where that left me?
Can you believe that?
Who answers your prayers?
I’d long ago put my faith in myself. Not god.
Then I’d spent a few decades letting people take it away from me.
Maybe I should just reach out and take that faith back?
I mentioned earlier that I wrote a book that “no one” read.
Y’know what? That didn’t bug me.
I’d written a book!
That realization made me feel good.
Good about myself and that accomplishment that “few” achieve. Well, few people, but hundreds of monkeys – if you put them all in a room together with a typewriter.
But it also made me realize that there were people in my life urging me to do it for a decade.
Just a few.
Not even a gang.
They were never in the same room together and maybe only once crossed paths on the same Facebook thread.
But they were there.
Just like my parents.
Maybe the answer I was looking for was actually those few voices that spoke up but were drowned out by the constant droning white noise of everyone else.
I realized that those few voices were coming from the people I wanted to hear.
Needed to hear, honestly.
The sincere people in my life.
But I’d been conditioned to listen to the masses and their collective white noise voice.
That voice, however, was like the Great and All-Powerful Oz.
Big and loud, but behind it? Just a curtain hiding small, scared individuals.
I was over trying to get through to “them”, they didn’t listen, anyway. Without listening, there’s no conversation…just one-sided talk.
I decided I was over that.
Post screaming into a void and expecting an answer.
Gyms with mirrors that reflected only negative extremes: what was perfect or what was imperfect.
Declaring myself post allowed me the luxury to do what I wanted for my own satisfaction, not to meet the expectations of an undefined group of faceless people.
To find my own satisfaction.
Hell, to first define satisfaction for myself and start there.
And in finding the faith in myself to set that bar, I felt empowered and optimistic…and it was sustained for the first time in years. But it makes me think that stripping it down to that level will allow me to arrive at a place where the definition I have for happiness overall is stronger than any I’ve had before. I’m not standing there asking some company or stranger-I’m-fucking-and-calling-it-dating for a sign off on my happiness.
I’m doing my own happiness; specifically giving my time to activities and people that enhance my work-in-progress happiness.
And you know what?
Now I want to do the things that I was post-doing before.
So, that’s a pretty good place to end up.
PS: my favorite Groucho quote? Well, since you didn’t ask…
Go read a book!