Being Content with Discontent

Reflecting on this last year, I can’t help but feel as though I should regret my choices… or feel guilt for:

  • Quitting my job of four and a half years to figure out my next career move.
  • Living on a shoestring, not getting a consistent pay check and squandering my savings to embark on a one-month trip across California.
  • Freelancing and attempting entrepreneurship while an invisible being nags me to settle down and return to full time employment.

All of these pressures I have come to realize are derived from societal norms, such as where I should be in my career and life as a false measure of ‘success.’
In contrast, had I not gone down this path, I would not have had the freedom or at least I would have doubted or changed my decisions to:

  • Take a one month road trip — I would have asked my employer for a flexible work arrangement or shortened my trip to two weeks.
  • Hop on a plane to Malaysia to attend a funeral and be with family — I would have, again, stayed a maximum of two weeks instead of 25 days.
  • Explore the San Francisco Bay Area and take a side trip to St. Louis — I would not have had the opportunity to enjoy these experiences at all.

There is a parallax with how we view our lives, one that is pegged against society and its norms, and the other where it is just you and your ambitions.

Why is it then that we compare ourselves to others and are never content with our current situation? Risk aversion and fear keep us frozen from trying new things, and when we go back to a place or talk to friends a year from now, not much has changed. Even if we’re striving for something better whatever that happens to be, we fail to be content. So starting now — not in the new year, not as a resolution, but as a way of being, I will be content with discontent.

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” ―Thomas A. Edison

I encourage you to do the same and stop comparing your path in life to others or allow fear to numb you from pursuing what you want to do. I have been fortunate enough to try it for myself and even though every day isn’t always rainbows and butterflies (it’s filled with discontent), I have made an attempt.