Coming through the other side

I came to the realization today that I’m only stressed out about one thing right now and that is money. But seriously, everyone is stressed out about money. From the guy panhandling on the interstate off-ramp to Elon Musk. If you asked Jay-Z what one of those problems out of 99 that he’s got, he would probably say money.

I hit a point in my life where I’m no longer going to be as much of a people pleaser. I’ve got myt own set of priorities–call them selfish if you must–but I’m really just over dealing with other people’s drama. If you want to make sad choices, that’s your problem. Not one of my 99.

I’ve hit that level where I will no longer fight for someone’s attention or affection. If people value me, it should come to me. If they don’t, well, I’ve got a lot of other things I should be doing. Things I would rather be doing, other than reading minds and trying to be active in a situationship.

I have nearly all of my time to dedicate to myself right now. My writing. My mental and physical health. I no longer have to find meaning in providing for others. 40+ years of hardwiring in my brain…it gets to be used for something else now.

What does that look like?

It’s scary as hell.

It’s a lot like realizing your whole life that thing you have been using to hammer nails with was a wrench all along. I have to shift how I approach everything in life now. You see, just because I’m no longer going to dedicate my existence to chasing the One, or tap-dancing to entertain kids, or endulging others in sympathy over self-destruction, it frees up a lot of mental space to do things that I have been avoiding for a very long time. Improving my life. Finding meaning and fulfillment outside of making others happy. That isn’t to say that everything will be easy. I just get to shift my resources over to something else, which admittedly might be even harder.

Unlike the 20-somethings you see on social media and dating apps and TikTok/YouTube, I might have around 20 years of decent health. Fifteen is what I’m hoping for to be honest. So, unlike these kids, I don’t have all the time in the world, but what I do have is experience. Patience. And also unlike these kids, I have the realization to know that it doesn’t matter what other people think. You don’t have to be happy all the time either. You can be content, at peace, neutral buoyancy, or whatever. Life is not a beer commercial. Sometimes it’s just watching the clouds pass overhead on a quiet afternoon. Sometimes it is something broken on your car. A good show on TV. A book you can’t put down. Petting the dog. I’m less inclined now to let myself be guided by FUN! rather than just experiences now too.

I don’t trust FUN! Because FUN! doesn’t last. It’s as arbitrary as eating powdered sugar right out of the bag with a spoon.

Experiences at least give you a good story.

So, now I have to figure out what the rest of my life looks like without that prescribed sense of meaning we all get from our first Disney movie onward. The one that tells us we have value only when we have value to others. With ourselves, we set the bar so low sometimes, because we haven’t been valued very much. So why should we value ourselves? Many of us get depressed and drop down to the basics. Brushing our teeth once or twice a day. Maybe eating food. Showering is optional.

What if we approached every day like we were about to go on a first date with someone and wanted to present that best version of ourselves? Only we were showing our best side to ourselves? The side that is confident. Courteous. An active listener. Able to laugh at ourselves. Opening doors for ourselves.

See what I mean? Scary.

That’s what you’ll find on the other side. I can see now why I’ve let myself get lost in other people’s bullshit. That world was familiar. This new one…let’s see where it takes me.