Why Are We Letting People Tell Us How To Live Our Lives?
I can’t help you be productive — I literally just spent almost two hours clicking and refreshing before I could write, “I can’t help you be productive,” so really, what the hell do I know? Any advice I could give you right now would be terrible. Don’t listen to me.
This morning, I was on the floor about to meditate and, 30 minutes later, was still not meditating and instead was watching a video on my phone about social media obsession. My foot was asleep, but my mind was awake, refresh, refresh, refresh.
I try to get into a routine, to wake up at the same time every day and make my boring, same breakfast of eggs over easy and sourdough toast and write at the same exact time and do this every single day until I die, apparently? I hate routine. I hate being bored. Almost all the productivity tips I read are boring and routinized. Being productive as like a way of life seems awful. I am a person, not a robot!
I don’t know how to be successful. I mean, fuck, I don’t even know what success means. Is it millions of dollars? Is it being able to take vacations often at places like the Maldives? (Where even are the Maldives? Do they send you the coordinates once you get your black AmEx?) Is success millions of followers? A big house? A loud, aggressive car with doors that open in ways that other people’s car doors do not open? A staff of people at the ready to help you with all the mundane aspects of life? Who even knows?
We all want to be capital-s Successful, yet most success seems like the proverbial carrot that we’re all chasing. Maybe what we don’t realize is that the carrot is on a string, perpetually lifting just out of our reach. Success is out there, somewhere, vague and waiting for us to be perfect enough to get it.
Sometimes the pursuit of success feels self-punishing, like we’ll let ourselves feel successful once we deem our life good enough, which will be never because we are weirdly terrified of contentment even though we say we want it.
I don’t know how to be happy. Really. I turned thirty this year and I have made a mild attempt at being healthy, which means cutting down on alcohol and substances that alter the mind. In doing that, I’ve realized how much of my twenties were about altering my fucking mind to a point where I never even contemplated happiness — because I was drunk or high or chasing after sex or love or a night of both. I’m starting to believe that happiness is less of a thing you can pursue and more of a thing that has to do with a person’s personality, upbringing, current situation.
It’s actually an effort for some people to be happy and we can all write our 15-point lists on how to achieve it (achieve happiness! LOL, only in America do we think happiness can be achieved, but I digress…) This toxic idea that happiness can be solved is never going to help anyone. There are a lot of people writing terrible advice in no position to give it to truly vulnerable people who need good advice.
My advice? Listen to people’s stories. Find their truth and find your own in theirs. Point yourself in the direction of the life you want.
I want my life to be electric, to wake up with a buzz of creativity crackling through my veins, yet I hardly ever do wake up like that.
Most of the time I wake up anxious and stressed about something so ordinary and ridiculous that it sends me into self-loathing because I actually care about something so ordinary and ridiculous. Today I woke up anxious about cleaning out my refrigerator. Last night, I went to CVS on my way home and got trash bags because I thought, “If I wake up tomorrow and I’m out of trash bags, I will lose it from being so anxious.” Trash bags! Who knew my anxiety could hinge upon me remembering to pick up trash bags on my way home? This is what life is like as an adult and I hate it so much — the way my brain fixates on something so small, because it’s terrified of fixating on something as big as like what is the purpose of my life.
I don’t think you can solve your life by reading more or doing more or creating more or following these twenty-thousand steps to being more at peace. I think it comes from taking a step back for a hot fucking second and figuring out what your soul is trying to tell you.
Your soul is the little voice beyond the insanity in your mind. It’s the tiny inkling that says, go there or be here or say this or try this. It’s about slowing down long enough to hear the idea that seems wild and strange, but makes you excited enough to wake up in the morning with a start. All of us want to wake up in the morning excited to be alive.
I think I’ve cut myself off from my soul in many ways. I’ve become my to-do list, the things that have to get done and the things other people want from me. I’ve forgotten that I can stop and listen intently to the whisper inside of me, that there is a little magic in there that is waiting for me to stop being so fucking erratic, so dictated by Things That Must Get Done.
Sure, I have to be responsible and take care of things that I am committed to taking care of, but I can do those much quicker if I don’t resent them so intently — or I can do them a lot better when I feel like I’m alive in my life. If my life has become a monotonous assembly line of things I hate doing, then of course the things I really hate doing will have greater weight, greater resistance. I hate when I sleepwalk too long in my life and then it becomes a list of things I don’t like doing. I have to remind myself that just because I’m an adult now doesn’t mean I don’t get to have a fun, playful, interesting life. I am not dead. Fuck.
I don’t have any of the answers. I think most people have these little inklings inside of them that they ignore and, the more they ignore them, the unhappier they become. Maybe it really is that simple. There’s something under the chaos of the mind, a feeling of being alive and buzzing and inspired by the world. Maybe that’s what we’re all looking for — to wake up to whatever lives within us.
Maybe whatever we’re feeling — whatever anxiety or stress bubbles up in us — is a bloating from the soul. Maybe whatever we ignore for so long fills us up with symptoms, oddities, maladies, like the soul is leaking from us, trying to be heard. I think we all want to feel alive, to feel like we’ve come here to this Earth for a purpose, that our lives are not just a meaningless march to our graves. But, it takes a long time for some of us to find what the soul is trying to tell us. It takes time. We have to clear out the clutter, find space in our lives to listen to our wild ideas. Maybe that’s the whole point — that eventually there is space to listen and that’s when we start to buzz.
I don’t know. But I’m listening. I’m clearing out. I’m waiting.