The sand squished between my toes as I stood on the beach staring out into the water. It was Sunday and I was waiting for some friends who were planning to play a few games of beach volleyball. As I stood there, all I could think was, ‘wow I can’t believe I’m actually here’.
Two weeks ago I made the move from the frozen shores of Rhode Island to the warmth of Santa Barbara, California. I have managed so far to find an amazing home, a bike for transportation and am both reconnecting with old friends as well as making new ones.
Life is pretty great.
However, since I am still on the lookout for steady income - otherwise known as a job - I have found myself constantly asking - What do I want?
I've found that being in the midst of the job hunt makes me imagine what my life might look like if I got any particular position - especially when I'm asked for an interview.
So far I have imagined myself as a barista, executive assistant, wine tasting room manager, fundraiser and marketing assistant.
All of these roles interested me for one reason or another, yet all of them lead to dramatically different results in terms of lifestyle and the kind of stress I would deal with on a daily basis.
Sometimes it feels like I am having an identity crisis.
So when I came across a brilliant post written by Mark Manson suggesting that I was asking myself the wrong question, I decided to give it a read.
More than that, after reading it through once, I decided to actually sit down with pen and paper and ask myself the hard questions.
In the post he suggests that asking ‘What do I want out of life?’ is the wrong question.
Instead, he suggests asking:
1. What pain do I want in my life?
2. What am I willing to struggle for?
These are far from easy questions to answer. For a while I didn’t know how to answer them.
However, after spending some time dwelling on the implications of these questions this is what I came up with.
I am willing to struggle for love.
This was the easiest one to determine.
When it comes to my future husband, I want more than a happy relationship. I want a healthy, supportive, loving and lasting relationship. I will fight for my future “partner in crime”. I am willing to go through the mess that is dating and love to find the right man.
I will also fight for the love of my family. Both my future family, my immediate and extended family and the people who are practically family. These are relationships and the love I value the most.
I am willing to struggle for freedom.
When I really thought about it, the reason I want to become an entrepreneur is because I crave freedom.
I am determined to design my lifestyle. I want to be able to travel extensively for long stretches of time and I want to have time to follow my passions that do not lead to financial gain, such as running, volleyball, camping, hiking, art, music, dance, etc…
For these I am willing to endure the pain of weird work schedules, unusual jobs, the long and weird hours of being an entrepreneur and the lack of complete stability.
I am willing to struggle for health.
I don’t crave perfection.
I do crave strength, fitness, health and longevity doing what I love - including the physical activities and sports.
I am willing to put in the pain of maintaining this both in physical exercise and diet (although is it really painful to eat healthy food?)
I am willing to struggle for my faith.
As a Christian I am willing to put in the time necessary to build and continue to build upon my relationship with God and my faith.
I am willing to go through the pain of asking the hard questions and the ensuing internal struggle. I am willing to go through the pain of encountering the glory of God and confronting our mortality and what makes us human. I want a lifelong relationship with God regardless of the questions and bumps in the journey.
I am willing to struggle for connection.
At the end of the day I love making connections. I love being ‘that person’ that reaches out, meets the neighbors, builds relationships with staff at the grocery store and makes friends with the person next to her on the plane.
I am willing to endure the painfully long conversations, awkward interactions, funny looks and occasionally unpleasant situations in order to create a more connected world and meet new people. It’s just something I do.
As Manson says,
“happiness requires struggle. The positive is the side effect of handling the negative.”
Ultimately we will all struggle. And when it comes to determining what we want in life, maybe rather than focusing on methods of productivity and manifesting our dreams into reality - maybe we should instead think about the negative side.
Because the only way to the positive is through the negative.
What are you willing to struggle for? Let me know in the comments below.