Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Honoring Hard Work

For example...
It's funny the things that can push me into an emotional tail spin, depending on where I'm at inner-confidence-wise. Many other times in my life, a silly little info-graphic quote like this one, shared on Facebook, written in a distressed font and set over the backdrop of some mountainous splendor, wouldn't make me stop scrolling. Or it would make me proud of myself; be affirming. 

The particular motivational quote that started my recent slump has been lost to the netherworld of the Facebook Newsfeed, but that's OK because Pintrest is ripe with exactly the sort of prettied-up big words I'm talking about and I've provided an assortment here.

 You're getting the idea, I'm sure.

The best thing about this one is, I was 
exactly there, doing exactly what this anonymous
risk taker is doing in Huacachina, Peru in 2013,
yet it's still like a punch to the gut.  
Let me get this out of the way: I am so abundantly happy to be in the Twin Cities right now. I get to experience warm summer days next to the lake with friends, explore my home state again by car (and foot! and bike!) and try all the new breweries that have opened up in the metro. I have a day job that I love, one which challenges me and fulfills me and an evening/weekend job that helps pay the bills/mitigate the effects of 6 months living on the road.

I have everything I asked for. Everything I was hoping for when I left California a year ago.

Perhaps the most damning of all...
The thing about life is we're always living dualities. Multiple things are always, always true. And right now, even with all of that being said, I am majorly struggling with being present and focused on my current life situation. 

In retrospect, it was pretty silly of me to think I would come back from a 6 month adventure and be totally prepared to settle into "real life", the job, the house, the garden, the dog. My god, did I want all of that. Frankly, I still do.

I've always been really good at working hard, at putting my head down and pushing through a hospitality job or two on top of college classes, or - like now - on top of a busy and challenging 8-4 desk job. I work hard, and I play hard. I leave town for weekend backpacking trips, plan 2 week vacations to Sicily, find ways to finagle comp time into longer weekend adventures. 

I'm good at that, and I'm doing that now. But it's not the same as, well, backpacking through Europe for 6 months. Or WWOOFing my way across South East Asia, or spending a month on the Trans-Mongolian Express. I could keep going...

And then I see these stupid, enticing "if not now, when?" messages. They are obviously meant to grab your gut and make you second guess the cubicle your're sitting in. They're certainly even designed specifically for me - my age group, my income level, my race and my lifestyle. 

And they are so damn true. There is no time like the present. You shouldn't let yourself get stagnant or caught up in the work-a-day culture we have in the USA that sucks you away into no-paid-holiday-plus-student-debt-not-to-mention-cost-of-living vortex so fast I feel like I'm fighting an uphill, daily battle to unroot these cultural norms from my heart and soul. I know and remember that there is a wild world out there where people are moving from city to city in countries where they can't even read the language, dancing in circles in the Greek islands after picking figs and grapes all day, developing incredible relationships with people they may only know a few hours. 

I was once with them. 

But now I'm here. 

As enticing as these messages might be, I'm working very hard to look past them, and to honor not just the fact that this is, as I said, exactly what I wanted and worked so hard to gain, but also the fact that though all of the things I said above about traveling and exploring and giving up your life to gain it etc etc are true: there is a time and a place in life for hard work

And not just a time and a place (which is right now in the triangle between St. Paul, St. Louis Park and Roseville which I drive daily) but there is honor and worth in the work I'm doing right now, as well as in the community I'm reintegrating myself with, and the time I'm spending with friends and family. 

I'm not planning on leaving any time soon and I'll admit it: it's hard for me. Not only am I actually not able to leave any time soon, financially or otherwise, there are also really compelling reasons to work through the wanderlust and engage with this time and place. It's a continual process of turning inward and looking at the richness that exists in the life here, which includes schedules, working 60-70 hours a week and a whole lot of budgeting and none of that is as flashy or sexy as leaving with a one way plane ticket again. 

But I'm a Northwoods girl. I don't need flash or sex appeal to know I have an incredible life, behind me, before me and right now.

Are your current life circumstances feeling inadequate yet?