Wanting and (the art of) following through
It’s a stormy Friday afternoon. Outside, Typhoon “Inday” is flooding the streets of Metro Manila. Inside, I’m in the same half-sprawled position I’ve been in for hours now, in bed with my work laptop.
I was working from home, but at 4:30 p.m. I mentally checked out. It’s almost the weekend. I should be unwinding, yet here I am stewing over what I discovered earlier today: I am running out of time.
Here are a few of my truths: I’m 29 years old. I ruined my eyes reading at 8, and continued to do so even after two Lasik surgeries.
I have a bookshelf that’s a testament to how I grew up one piece of young adult fiction at a time. I flirted with a career in editing for a little over a year before stumbling into something else entirely.
On Sundays I sit down to write about nothing, anything, and everything in a journal no one will ever get to read. I’ve been doing this since 2010, and while I’m a creature of habit, that’s not why I do it.
I do it for memories. For documentation. For future reference (or future entertainment). Also because I love words, and sometimes they come so easily that I can fool myself to believe they love me back.
I gave you my neutral truths.
Here are the ugly ones because, I’m nothing if not self-aware: One of my biggest character flaws is that I don’t know what I want to do with my life, and on the rare occasions I do, I can’t find the motivation to do them. I am a high-functioning lazy person with an aversion to hard work.
In grade school, as everyone else filled out autograph books with what they wanted to be when they grew up — doctor, lawyer, businessman, athlete — I wrote “to be happy,” because I didn’t want to commit to something only to set myself up for failure.
I thought happiness was a safe answer, an easy answer. Boy, was I wrong. I turned 29 this June, and the most I can say is that on most days, I’m more happy than not.
The root of the problem, I’ve realized, is that I’m bad at wanting things. I’m a reluctant want-er, just like I’m a reluctant driver, writer and leader.
I’m not very good at pursuing my own happiness. Maybe it’s because I’m scared, or risk-averse, or uninspired. Or maybe because life has been good anyway, even if I’ve been more of a passive observer than an active participant.
Maybe it’s because I don’t take enough time to ask myself, “What do I want?” and, just as importantly, “What am I willing to do about it?”
Off the top of my head, here is a breakdown of what would constitute my happiness at this point in time, in no particular order: I want to see more of the world (I’m specifically looking at you Canadian Rockies and Swiss Alps). I want to find someone I can build a life with. I want a family of my own. I want to be a subject matter expert. I want to be a role model. I want to fill my life with stories to tell. I want to get published.
Here’s what I’m going to do. I’ve done a reality check, and the last point is what I have the most likelihood of achieving in the short term. I’m going to finish this essay over the weekend. I’m going to churn out the words, reread and edit. When I’m sick of it, I’m going to send it and hope for the best.
Here’s what will happen next. I’ll move on. After that … who knows. The most I can promise is to try. Try to be more deliberate in defining my happiness. Try to admit to wanting things, and play an active part in turning them to reality, hopefully before another deadline looms large in the horizon.
Try to create. Try to do. Try to follow through. A weekend of writing can’t resolve all of my issues, but it’s a start. That’s good enough.
It’s Sunday evening. Outside, another tropical depression is making its presence felt. Inside, the cursor on this Word document blinks in and out of my vision as if taunting me.
But I’m done. I beat the deadline because I wanted to. And, more than that, because I chose to.
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Dorothy Ann Lopez-Dee, 29, works as a talent acquisition professional for a multinational company in Parañaque.
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