I don't like doing things that I don't want to do, and I don't like being in circumstances where I'm unhappy. When I find myself in either of those situations, I'll often ask myself, "What's the point?" or "why am I doing this?" or "is it worth it?"
It's been a little bit over a year since I've moved back home. Those questions have come up more times this year than I can count.
When the idea of moving home first popped into my head, I was thoroughly unenthusiastic - but ultimately I decided to move back to spend time with my family.
When the idea of going back to the church that I had grown up in popped into my head, I was thoroughly unenthusiastic - but ultimately I decided that I wanted to be there to help.
When I was asked to help out with the high schoolers at our church, I was thoroughly unenthusiastic - but ultimately I decided I wanted to be there because high school is a really important time.
But following through with these well intentioned decisions has been pretty difficult for me this year. Being home has exposed how selfish and lazy I can be, and it's often frustrating when I can't connect with my siblings. What's the point? Oftentimes the overall climate at church is a sort of lethargy and indifference, and it's been hard to maintain any sort of passion or enthusiasm. Why am I here? The high schoolers can often be disengaged, judgmental, or rude. Is this worth it? And multiple times throughout the year, I've wanted to peace out. It would be as easy as finding an apartment somewhere else in LA and just leaving. Wouldn't I be happier that way? If things were just easier, and I exclusively did things that I wanted to/that would make me happy?
In one month it will be 1 year since my ex and I broke up. She's doing well and has moved on. We've interacted a total of two times since the breakup, wishing each other happy birthday, and 'hope all is well'. But I don't want to see her. It's embarrassing knowing how well she's doing without me and how lame I've been this year.
So now to the obvious question. "Why not just move? Quit? Do something else? If you're so frequently unhappy, do something about it." Absolutely no one is forcing me to be where I'm at.
But as I learn to stick through things this year, I realize that the circumstances and the people are not the problem, the root of my frequent discontentment - ultimately, it's me. How I respond is entirely up to me. Whether or not I let circumstance or people dictate my attitude is up to me. If I choose to leave, it would not be long before I found something else in my new environment to be discontent and unthankful about, and I'd be back to square one.
Maybe I often feel frustrated and discontent because the circumstances are not comfortable, but maybe this sort of genuine discomfort signals potential for genuine growth. The idea that it's not about pursuing and protecting happiness exclusively, but that happiness can come out of discomfort and growth - this is new for me.
As I'm learning to stick things through, I'm learning to stop blaming people or circumstances and to instead be thankful and learn how to be content, and to thrive when it's hard. I'm learning that my myopia and my emotions are not absolute reality, and that when I stay, there are more opportunities for me to get out of my own head, to stop navel gazing and to look at where I really am. More opportunities to see things in the circumstances to be thankful for. More opportunities to truly change. And staying this past year has really shown that I need it.
The process of realizing errors in your thinking takes time. The process of actually following through and changing your thinking takes time. But the time to work and the opportunities to keep trying - these are things you have more of when you choose to stay.
So we'll keep trying. And maybe we'll keep missing the mark, but maybe we'll grow and learn to approach circumstances and people freely, in love and kindness and without bitterness. That would make me really happy.