This year has been such a FUNNY journey. (Funny/interesting, not funny/haha). I was hating on it before, but now I am loving it. Why? I can see things from another angle now, with more clarity. Life is not supposed to be perpetually happy. The challenges in life are the things that cause us to reflect, learn and grow. Without challenges – if we were perpetually happy – we would have no reason to change or move forward, to make things happen for the benefit of ourselves and others, and to have experiences! Think about it. If you were 100% content all the time, where would the drive to create new things and to have new experiences come from?
This is not to say that "unhappiness" is good – noooooo, no no – but challenges? They're good.
I'll tell you why I personally find this to be true.
Many times this year I have banged my head against a brick wall [usually metaphorically, not always] and asked why why why!? Why did I apply and start uni only to realise: OH, SHIZEN, NO. Abort. Why did I apply for Sydney city jobs, only to receive interview invitations and then go: WHOOPSY, I ACTUALLY DON'T WANT TO COMMUTE FOR YOUR JOB THAT A MILLION GIRLS WOULD KILL FOR. Why did I make a new commitment to a marketing career (which makes ZERO sense for me... I'd sooner climb trees than corporate ladders) but then get no responses to my prepared-with-the-help-of-a-professional-career-coach, applications? WHY? Coz, it's a numbers game, and there were obviously heaps of candidates who were heaps better than me. Coz I didn't wanna commute for four hours a day. There's nothing woo-woo going on there. It is what it is.
But here's the thing. There's another layer. I believe that some things happen for a reason, and I believe that this year's challenges were always going to happen, and I believe that the challenge was for me to stop – just stop already, trying to fit into an outdated or "sensible" notion of what I thought I should be doing. I think that the challenge has been for me to dedicate some energy into figuring out how I want to meaningfully spend my days. I couldn't/wouldn't have done that if I'd landed the first (or even fiftieth) job I'd applied for. So from this new vantage point, I'm so thankful for this year.
What is a sensible job, anyway? I had this Oprah moment recently where I realised the following: A corporate, 9-5, highly paid, regularly paychecked job is a fan-bloody-tastic and sensible job for someone who enjoys that job. A teaching job is a fan-bloody-tastic and sensible job for someone who loves teaching children. Are they sensible jobs for me? Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, computer says NO!! A sensible job for me is the one that makes S E N S E for M E. Boom. I do not know why it took me so long to figure this out; it seems so freaking obvious now.
I also believe that you need to align yourself with your 'happy meridian'. I think I have now learned to identify when I am aligning with my happy meridian. For a while, I had been swimming against my own current. I had been aspiring to things (i.e. work choices) that were old or 'sensible' ideas, like a corporate office job. I stupidly convinced myself that kind of job was the end-goal and the symbol of success. But it never felt like somewhere I wanted to stay for long, even though I met many great friends, had great experiences, and learned many things. Eventually, when you increasingly notice that you are swimming against your own current, it just no longer makes sense. It no longer works to keep swimming against the current. Imagine yourself actually in a river swimming against a current. It's a struggle, it's stressful, it's not fun, and you don't get anywhere. You're stuck.
But when you spin around and flow with the current it's like HECK YEAH, WOOOOOOO! When you're swimming with your own current it feels good.
My time this year has basically forced me to take a good look at myself and ask what I really want. What do I have to offer that is useful to others and also makes me content? What do I enjoy, what am I/can I be good at? What makes sense for me?
And this is the alignment of the happy meridian. I imagine it like a piece of precision joinery – the piece that fits snuggly into the perfect slot. Personally, I think I needed to experience something that didn't feel right, to know when something did feel right. When an idea just seems to align, when it sits well and I don't have to scrutinise it, that's now a good indicator for me that I'm on the right track.
When you identify and acknowledge and make plans for what feels right for you, you feel this cohesion. It's a 180 where you are suddenly swimming with your own current. It's standing tall and slotting perfectly into your happy meridian. It, feels, amazing!
I'm in a good place now – much better than even a short while ago, and the change happened when I stopped, surrendered, had a good honest talk with myself, dropped the old ideas and actually gave credence to the new ideas. Gave myself permission to consider possibilities that actually made sense for the person I am.
Sometimes I publish things on this blog that are waaaaay out of my comfort zone – let me just say, this is one of those things. It's scary putting things out there, but I know I am not alone in these experiences.
I know I have been a little bit closed-book with my plans, even with friends and family. My goals at present include continuing to build on my wedding favour business. I'm also exploring the possibility of part-time study in an area of alternative healthcare, which is another one of my interests – something I'm naturally inclined towards and fascinated by. However, for the time being I still need a reliable income from another source. To meet these aims, my goal is to find work close to home (where we currently live, in Wollongong). My reason for sharing this is to demonstrate my point about the 'happy meridian'. Before, when I was looking for work in Sydney CBD – just to find work – I hadn't yet given proper attention to figuring out my real interests and goals. So when I was applying for jobs in the CBD, something felt off/misaligned, and that's why I balked each time I got an interview offer. Once I had made the decision to actually devote some more energy to my creative work, I knew that I had to find work locally to be able to continue (I couldn't work on my business if I was wasting hours commuting). At the time of that decision to leave the city jobs behind, I felt a massive shift in my personal energy. I felt like a little happy fish who had started swimming with her own current.
Just this morning, I was considering my goals and kind of realised that to enable the growth of my business and other plans, that finding part-time work would be preferable. When I acknowledged that, it felt like another little piece of the puzzle slotting into place. I realised that even though I have been putting my efforts into finding full-time work locally, I haven't been wholeheartedly committed/aligned with that plan. Who knows - maybe that's why nothing has come of it? I knew/know that if I commited to a full-time job, it would be tricky to make room for my own business and other plans. On the other hand, when I think about getting a part-time job instead, I feel quite positive. We'll see what happens. I already have some full-time applications out there that I worked hard on, and it's not to say that I might not apply for another FT job locally if it fits the bill, but let's just see.
What was my point of this post again? Oh yes. Challenges are good. I'd be the first one to put up my hand and say that it can be practically impossible to see some challenges as positives when you're in the thick of them, but challenges can get you places. And secondly, being aware of your happy meridian is good, as is swimming with your own current.
The impetus for this post came from this coveted article: 7 Crazy Mistakes We Make in the Pursuit of Happiness
The upper images were screen-snapped on Instagram over the months, so I have no info to give credits - sorry! The last image is a free printable from here.