Musings

The Courage of Authentic Choice

I haven’t been blogging much lately. My last post was in October. That’s over four months ago.

One of the things I’ve found difficult about blogging is trying to decide what’s worth writing about. What can I say to the world that’s actually useful and valuable?

I feel like I have a responsibility to provide high-quality content. I feel as if I can’t say anything that could hurt anyone in any way. What if I give a piece of advice and someone takes it and it doesn’t work for them, or worse, causes damage? It’s too much pressure. It makes blogging scary.

And so perhaps I should just write about my own experiences in life. At least then I’m not trying to give advice that could go awry. But would anyone really be interested in hearing my experiences, as-is, with no real purpose other than to share? Experiences that may not make much sense, but are real and authentic and as messy as life actually is?

Perhaps.

Maybe just sharing my humanity is enough. Maybe then people can relate to me and that lets them feel a little less alone.

Let’s try that, then. Let’s try sharing my humanity. My messiness. My as-is experiences.

Ok, here goes…

You know how when people give out breakup advice, they always preface it with something like, “you may think your situation doesn’t apply here, but trust us, you’re not unique”?

Well, I’d like to disagree with them. I am unique. And so are a lot of people.

Here’s the thing. So much modern breakup advice talks about removing your ex-partner from your life completely. Going cold turkey. Essentially treating them like they didn’t matter, that they never mattered.

And that just doesn’t work for me.

You see, my partner and I broke up back in November. Maybe this is why I haven’t been blogging, or maybe not. Who knows? But here’s the thing…we’re still friends. Good friends. Best friends.

And for now, I still live with him. Crazy, right? Totally against the grain of all sanity and conformity. An unhealthy dynamic where I’m kidding myself, not actually healing my heart, holding on too tight, etc, etc.

Or is it? Let me explain…

I’ve lived my whole life trying to do things the way I’m supposed to do them. The way other people think I should be doing them.

I chose my major in college because I thought it would get me a stable job making enough money to finally not just survive, but thrive. And it did, but now I have limited passion for what I do, and that means I don’t have very much to carry me through the really rough days at work.

I started out my life pleasing my parents. Doing what I thought would make them love me, rather than abandon me. And now, at 28 years old, living away from them, hardly interacting with them, I still try to please them. They have become these phantoms in my brain who hover over me and judge my decisions, giving me advice I never wanted, causing me guilt if I choose something that works for me but not for them.

I do this with society too. I live my life based on what society thinks I should do. And it’s even worse in this case because society is broken up into different factions of various opinions that are polar opposites of each other. It’s extremely confusing. For example…

I stay in my stable job because one chunk of society rewards me for hard work and perseverance and the pursuit of the American dream. But I also beat myself up day after day for not having the courage to leave said job, because another part of society tells me I should follow my dreams and honor my authentic self. I am pulled in opposite directions by the wants of people from all walks of life, unable to see what works for me.

And so when I look at my breakup and I compare it to the applauded-kind-of-breakup that American or western culture expects, I feel that pressure to conform. I feel that pressure to extricate myself from my previous life. To let my best friend go. The person who I loved and still love more than the world. I feel like I’m supposed to get away from him as fast and as far as possible. So that I can “heal” and all that mumbo jumbo…

But I don’t want to. And I’m quite frankly tired of being told I should.

And when I hear the words “get back out there” and “you’ll find love again,” I want to ask, “why?” It’s not that I don’t think I’ll find the right partner for me in the future, but why so much pressure? Why can’t I just be single for a really long time? What’s so wrong with that?

Why can’t I experience the joys of my own company and my own life for a long time without it being some sort of segue into a new and improved relationship? Whenever I hear people talking about being single after a breakup, it’s always in relation to getting into an even better partnership in the future.

But what happens if I’m just single for the sake of living my most authentic life? And then whatever falls into place after that does so just because it does? Not because I’m trying so hard to achieve a specific outcome?

The same can be said for the whole “kids” question. My likelihood of finding a partner who doesn’t want children is lower than finding one who does. But why should that motivate me to change my mind about not wanting kids? Why should I follow the pressure of society to obtain this life path that everyone says is so great, but doesn’t quite feel so great to me?

And if I never leave my job, what does that mean? Does it mean I’m a failure? That I failed to pursue my dreams? Or does it mean that I’m responsible and strong and resilient?

No! It doesn’t mean any of these things. It just means that’s what I chose to do with my life. It’s what I figured was best given the information and experience I had. It doesn’t mean anything about my worth or character, good or bad.

Being friends with my ex doesn’t mean that I have no boundaries. It doesn’t mean that I still want to be with him romantically. And it also doesn’t mean that I’m some amazing emotionally intelligent person who can get past the hurt and heal easily. It just means that I really love my friend and I don’t want to lose him. I’m willing to spend a little longer in the healing phase because it’s worth it to me. It’s so simple if you think about it. It’s just a choice.

Not wanting kids and perhaps not finding a partner because of it doesn’t mean I’m a selfish beast who doesn’t deserve love. And it doesn’t mean I’m a strong individual who chooses to live against the grain. It just means I decided I don’t want kids, and that’s alright, and whatever happens, happens.

So I guess my point in writing all this is…I just want to live my life. Not read so many advice articles. Not take everyone’s opinions so seriously. Do what feels right for me, in each moment, and change my path on a whim if I so desire.

And for goodness’ sake, not create all these value judgments about myself based on these choices.

Just breathe, live, stop thinking so hard about it all (although let’s be honest, I’ll probably never stop thinking deeply about things). But maybe a little bit, no?

Relax a little and live. That’s all I really want right now. Less pressure, more freedom. Freedom to be myself. Freedom to let go of expectations the world has placed on me. Expectations I’ve placed on myself.

Freedom to simply be.

1 thought on “The Courage of Authentic Choice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *