I’m back on track. It feels good to feel secure and enthusiastic about my next steps, big or small.
About a month ago, I started to crumble. I was shattering into pieces, and too exhausted and depressed to do anything about it. I took a week for myself to discover why. I looked into myself and at first couldn’t see myself. When I stripped away all the guilt and fear and other negativity I had surrounded myself with, I still didn’t see anything because that’s what I had reduced myself to: nothing. How have I let myself come this far down? It was, I dimly realized, high time that I actively decided my own future.
In order to do that, I had to be brave to admit what I really wanted, what really mattered to me. Deciding to study Law was my first mistake, but a mistake with benefits. Not dropping out a year ago was my second mistake. I almost made a third when I thought I’d study Political Science instead. At that time, I thought “This is a choice I can live with”, promptly forgetting that that’s just what I was thinking two years ago when I decided on Law as my major. A good friend of mine sent me a link to Ruth Chang’s Ted talk on how to make hard choices. So I started questioning the values I had put behind my choice of Political Science – and my other choice, English Literature. The former was relative financial security without breaking my back (as I did with Law). The latter was me.
I talked to my Mom and sister about wanting to drop Law but I wouldn’t tell them any of my future plans until I was firm in what I wanted. Mom was a bit baffled but she said she’d support me in whatever I think is right.
I was being given a second chance. And I was deathly afraid that I’d somehow mangle this precious gift. I knew enough now to know that I’d live with whatever future I chose. But I wanted to use this second chance to its fullest potential and not burn myself out the second time.
So I chose to be unashamedly myself. It was an exhilarating and scary moment to finally own myself exactly the way I am. Once I had made the choice to be the only person I know how to be, it was surprisingly easy to tell my mother and sister about it. My sister just nodded, as if it all made sense and she had known it all along, and my Mom looked a bit disbelieving but still encouraged me to follow through.
The last part, and the hardest one, was to tell my father. I have a turbulent relationship with my father, and it was his disapproval and criticisms I had braced myself against the most. I had planned on telling him when he was here in Germany next month but all this untold weight on my chest was making it impossible for me to do anything else. So I dialed, and we talked.
And he completely threw me off. He wasn’t critical. He wasn’t upset. He didn’t talk down to me. He was thoughtful, surprisingly gentle, and supportive. He was certainly caught off guard but he wasn’t trying to dissuade me or to steer me into another direction. He did raise a few alternatives and asked if I found them equally appealing. “Safer” alternatives. But I wasn’t about to make another mistake. So I told him, quite sincerely, that I wanted to study English Literature. I told him, and later also Mom, that I was determined to go jobbing on the side to complete my education. My parents, bless them, are resolved to support me until they are unable to do so. I am grateful for this new opportunity and intend to work hard to make most of it.
Later I told Mom that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that I told Dad. She looked at me strangely and said: “I thought it would be the opposite – with this uncertain future hanging over your shoulder.” No, I told her, I haven’t ever felt this certain about the future.
After I finish my education, I don’t know where I will end up. But I am sure I will find something because I have come to realize that there is a lot of hitherto unknown sources of awesomeness within me.
This kind of leads me to my next topic: what I am currently reading. I am reading The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. It’s a lot about fundraising but not in a how-to or why-to way. The book examines our own and our culture’s relationship with money, and it’s basically a mixture of minimalism, questioning our values and the idea of sufficiency. I also keep finding traces of what I found in Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization: the belief that you trust the Universe to help you realize your potentials (but only if you don’t struggle against the gentle stream). It’s about recognizing that the world doesn’t have to be you-or-me but you-and-me.
The book is written a little in a disorganized, rambling kind of way without a clear structure. It can be annoying at times but you can find good anecdotes and some great, thought-provoking ideas. The Soul of Money is one of those books that, if you let it, can change the way you look at life. You can apply the idea not only to money but also to other concepts as well, such as time.
Lately, there were so many days I woke up thinking I don’t have enough time to get all this done. But I have been proving myself to the contrary these last two, three days. All I have to do is to know what I truly want to do, and why I want to do it. Knowing the why helps me find a fresh spurt of motivation. I also believe in the sufficiency of time, and that there are enough hours in a day to get done what I need to get done. It’s not about wishing there were more hours in a day but about doing the best with what I have and appreciating it.
Can we […] in our relationship with money and all resources shift from the assumption that more, no matter what, is better? Can we recognize that better comes from not more, but in deepening our experience of what’s already there? Rather than growth being external in acquiring anc accumulating money or things, can we redefine growth to see it as a recognition of and appreciation for what we already have?
– The Soul of Money, p. 86