G E T T Y • V I L L A • L A
The quote starts with, "Don't worry about what the world wants from you." And bafflingly, my father gave this to me.
When I think about my folks, I wonder how they'd view my life. I wonder how proud they'd be. I know my father would be promoting the whole career mindset. He was foremost dedicated to his job, to a fault. I know he'd agree with this. And I don't cast judgment against those who look at work as the core for their purpose. For me, life is more complicated than just banging away at a paycheck. Hell, when I finished college, the only thing I cared about was making as much money in the fastest way possible. This way, of course, led directly to sadness. A ten-plus year malaise. You hopefully learn that doing things for the money robs you of character, self-fulfillment, happiness, and creativity.
For years, I lost connection with creativity. I wondered why constructing elaborate Excel spreadsheets and drafting complex systems in AutoCAD wasn't satisfying.
It was always someone else's design. Someone else's vision I was bringing into reality. You lose time doing everything for everyone else and that's key. Living your life in the service of others exclusively, fitting in your world wherever the free in-between moments emerge. You lose connection ultimately with yourself.
I'm not saying to stop helping others. Like everything, there's a line to walk. And helping others is a tantamount to living a fulfilling and altruistic path. Yet, merely helping others because you don't know how to invest in yourself and create the life you want deep down, coming up shirt at self-actualization. That's where I was--life stopped being fulfilling. Life was stress, after anxiety, after stress. One career goal to the next, every time getting to the next milestone with a mild celebration, only to return to the fold, burying my face in work and pushing again with bare fingers. It's a terrible way to exist. And when people ask why I'm grateful (at some level) for cancer, this is why. Cancer showed me how far I'd gone in letting go of the reigns.