On a run in Norway I had the following conversation:
M: so, are you happy?
K: I don’t know. I don’t think I am.
M: That is the saddest thing I have heard in a long time.
It’s true. I don’t know if I am happy. It’s not on the table yet, but there could be a time when traveling apart is a viable option. We’re not there yet.
K: You have to remember that my feelings are not your responsibility. If you are brought down by my mood, i have no control over that.
M: I’m not sure that’s true. You could do things that show you’re at least trying. This is why I got upset with you on the Camino.
Okay, so when I am upset I tend to just get really quiet and contemplative and wait for it to pass. I suppose I could at least try to act like a happy person. This is easier said than done. I hate being out of control. No matter what awesome things I am doing, I am always aware in the back of my mind that I am jobless, homeless, and not producing anything tangible. There is no rubric with which to measure my success, and so how do I have anything to show for my life? What are my achievements, really?
I was confused. What do I do about this? Every time I think about having a job or going back to work, an echo in the back of my mind says “chains of your own choosing.”
As I was wallowing in despair on the side of the road in the rain near Gaupne, Norway, right before a semi-truck roared passed and soaked me with water, I remember looking down at my feet and thinking “In the future, when you are sitting at a desk, you will think back to how free you were. Try to feel free, even though you hate life.”
But then, I realized, this is normal. The grass is always greener on the other side. People who are working with jobs think I am so lucky and that my life is awesome. And people who are traveling are tired and sometimes just want to wake up in the same place for a week straight and put their lives on auto pilot.
But we forget that no matter what, life always gives you something to feel shitty about, to stress about, and it always gives you something to be happy about and feel secure about. I am as free at my desk job as I am on the side of the road, the art is in how I bring the two together. How do I feel happy and free and fulfilled in both situations?
There is a lot about myself I want to change. Here I am speaking about former Katie, who worked 7-5 5 days a week for a paycheck. Former Katie worked at a job she actually really liked, but would wake up every morning with a pang of anxiety and left every day with a feeling of defeat.
I realize that in anything, you have good days and you have bad days, but I want to be the kind of Katie that is not as spun out by criticism, and doesn’t panic when I make a mistake, and doesn’t rely on the approval of others to define my self-worth. I want to call the shots in how I feel, make mistakes and learn from them. I want to be a more confident Katie, who is even better at reading people and assessing risk. I want to handle stress with poise and control.
I suppose I could learn these things in a job-like setting, but I think traveling is making these lessons come across more seriously. I mean, I’m already convinced that no job-related scenario is ever going to be harder than walking the Camino, so I’m already ahead there.
I guess I realized today that, there is an outcome I hope to achieve out of this whole project I am doing. I am seeking a better, faster, stronger version of myself who can be successful without having to play by other people’s rules. Now I just have to wait and see.