Waging War On Complacency
On leaving, struggling, falling apart and finding what makes you happy.
Shortly after you graduate college, you’re going to want to get away. From everything, from everyone. You’ll dream often of heading to the airport in the middle of the night and leaving, to wherever the next flight is headed. The concept of running away will be beautifully romantic in your mind. But for the time being, you will stay where you are and you will start to resent the people and places you once loved as your fear of complacency will make you forget the magic you used to see in them.
Then one day two armed men will enter your apartment and take your money and your possessions and worse yet, the last thing that was keeping you here: the peace of mind that you had developed in this home that you’ve made. That night you and your roommate will go to the bar as you try to prove to the burglars that they didn’t win this round, they didn’t affect your life. You’ll drink too much and that night lying in bed you’ll make the decision that this time you’re really going to leave. So you buy a plane ticket to a city where nobody knows you. Austin, TX.
One week later it’s all happening. You’ve said your abrupt goodbyes and can’t wait for this adventure to begin. It will be so perfect won’t it? What stories you’ll have to tell about your travels. You’ll get to the airport at 4 o’clock in the morning and you’re bouncing off the walls with excitement. You’ll spend the entire plane ride furiously writing in your notebook tales of adventures yet to come. And then the plane will land. It’s time, you’ll think to yourself, and so it begins.
You arrive at the apartment you secured two days ago and you’re greeted by the roommate you’ve never met before. How spontaneous of you. Everything is new to you, and everything is perfect.
You’ll meet a beautiful girl right away, and she’ll speak in a perfectly exotic southern accent that makes you think she was put in front of you to symbolize your new start in this new place. She’ll show you all around town and you’ll hold hands too soon and everything will be too perfect. You’ll go out the next night too, and she’ll go out of her way to cheer you up when your favorite hockey team loses in OT and you’re sadder then you should be about it. You’ll get a job on your second day too. You’ve transitioned perfectly. New city, new girl, new job. Go you.
But on the third day of this great adventure you’ll show up for work and you’ll hate your job. You’ll wonder why you moved across the country to work at another restaurant when you had career opportunity sitting on the table in your old city. So will your parents. And though your checking account is already waving the white flag, you’ll quit that job after just six hours. You’ll go to a bar that night and text the girl you’d met. She won’t text back. That night you’ll fall asleep listening to the songs you know better then to play when you’re already depressed. But it’ll be ok, tomorrow is a new day, and new adventures surely must await.
The next day she’ll text you back but not to make plans. In fact, you won’t see her again for two weeks. You’ll want to call your friends and meet them for a drink, but they’re 2,000 miles away. That night you’ll walk around the city with no destination in mind. Suddenly roaming won’t represent adventure to you anymore, it’ll represent misdirection. Your spontaneity will now feel misguided misguided, you’ll fear you’ve made a mistake and you’ll miss everyone. You’ll resent the girl you’d met for showing you all around the city because now everywhere you go reminds you of her. And this is how you’ll spend the rest of the first week of your great adventure.
Late one night you’ll be walking in circles, giving yourself too much time alone with your thoughts. You’re listening to those songs again, the ones you promised you’d never play at moments like these. Suddenly, an old friend from home will call you. They’ll ask you how you’re doing, you must be having such an amazing time. But you’re not having an amazing time. You’re walking home broke and alone on the side of a highway in Central Texas. And at that moment you’ll break for the first time.
For the next two weeks you’ll let yourself continue to break. You’ll struggle in your creative interests, fall in and out with the girl that is making you miserable, and have run-ins with newer ones that don’t make you feel any better. You’ll learn to hate yourself for signing a six-month lease that now feels like a jail sentence. And you continue to break.
But one day you’ll wake up strangely early and look in the mirror and you’re going to get really really upset with yourself. And it will be a good thing. You need to do this. You’re going to tell yourself that it’s time to put yourself back together and you decide you need to get out and do what you came here to do: explore. So you sling your camera over your back and hop on your bike and you’ll start to pedal. And you’ll pedal. And you’ll pedal. You’ll fill your notebook and your camera. And you’ll pedal.
By the time your first month in this new city comes to a close, you’ll start to feel ok with yourself again. You’ll still see her occasionally, but it’s no longer important to you. You’ve made new memories with new friends in all the places that used to remind you of her. You’re with someone new anyway, and it’s going as well as you need it to. At night you’ll sit outside on your porch writing and tackling all the projects that you came here to complete. You’ll make new friends and your days will get busier and busier.
Pretty soon you’ll have been in this new city for almost two months. You’ve just gotten THE job, the exact job you had hoped you would get when you graduated with your shiny new college degree three months ago. You did it, you stayed true to your word and didn’t settle for any of the other lesser opportunities that had presented themselves in the months prior. You’re more inspired then ever to create and you spend all day blissfully enveloped by the projects that you can’t get out of your head.
And your birthday will roll around. In fact, your birthday is today. An old friend from home that you secretly-but-not-so-secretly really care about is in town and you spend the day with her. At night you find yourself surrounded by new friends. It’s your birthday, your least favorite day of the year, but not this year.
That night you fell asleep in the same bed that just one month ago you had laid in as you stared blankly at the ceiling for nights on end. You remembered how you’d broken, how you’d let yourself fall apart only to pick yourself back up. And you thought to yourself, “that’s exactly what was supposed to happen.” It became clear to you that you had hopped on that plane to wage war with complacency, and when you’re at war with complacency you’re going to face some days that bring you to your knees.
That’s how you know you’re winning.
You have to keep moving, no matter what.
I can’t wait to break all over again.