Contentment: The Dream

What is the difference between being content and being stuck in a rut? I feel like it is a state of mind. I want to address the last post. It may have been difficult to see, but I was in a dark place a few weeks ago. As I said, I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I’ve never been depressed, but I feel like I was going down the path the leads to depression. How did I go from simply being content to being stuck in a rut?

I have always had goals in my life. I was always looking forward to the next goal to accomplish. I have always striven for being content and happy. I did not want to be rich or famous. Creating and accomplishing goals contributed to my happiness. The goals in school were easy. Get A’s, and move up to the next grade level until I graduate. Did I always get A’s? Most of the time, yes, but not all of the time. Did I graduate high school? Yep. Easy goals, although my younger self would probably argue differently. In high school, I had other, shorter term goals. I wanted to get my driver’s license. I got it shortly after I turned 16. My parents were gracious and gave me my mom’s old car, so I didn’t have to worry about making a goal of finding a car. Being able to drive created a new goal: get a job, so I could afford gas. I did. Worked part time at a grocery store one summer. Later I got a job at Target. Ever since high school I have always had a job.

In high school I grew as a person. I also realized I would graduate in a few years; I needed more longer term goals. I wanted to go to college, although I did not know what I wanted to major in. I wanted a career where I could be content after earning a degree, but I was not sure what career that might be. I wanted a house after I got a job in my career of choice. I hoped to find a companion that I could call my wife, and she could call me her husband. Lots of goals were created in high school. I was feeling pretty good about life.

After graduating high school I looked at my options for colleges. College is expensive. I decided I did not want to spend a ton of money for a piece of paper. So, I apply to the community college in my hometown. My reasoning was simple. It is cheap, and I could save money by living with my parents. I could also keep working at Target. Of course, they accepted me; most community colleges will accept you if you apply. However, I had a problem: still no major. What do I want to do for a career? I liked computers, so I had it narrowed down to either Information Technology (I.T.) or Computer Science. I decided that I would pursue my degree in I.T. Another goal in progress.

Again, more small goals like do well in classes, and make friends were set. Most of the time I was successful in completing the goals. I even got an internship in the I.T. I ended up graduating with an AAS from the community college. I was proud. I learned a ton, and I could see myself being happy and content in the I.T. field. I looked to pursue my next goal: get a career. Knowing that I wanted to have a full time career in I.T. I decided to pursue a BAS in Management Information Systems. A bachelor’s degree would help with the career goal. I could continue going to school at the community college, because they partnered with a four year university. It was also cheap.

After earning my BAS I was flying pretty high, but I knew that I had a hefty goal ahead of me. I needed a full time job in the field I had chosen. My internship continued after I graduated, but I needed to look for a “real” job. I was able to apply to several jobs in my hometown, including at the place that hired me for my internship. I interviewed, and was offered two jobs! Not very many people get choices on the job they want after college. I chose the full time position at the place I was interning at for four years.

So where did that leave me in life? I completed high school, college, and had a full time job in my career field. I had good friends, and people who cared for me. I still lived with my parents, and still hadn’t found love. So that leaves a few goals on the table, and a sense of purpose. Unfortunately, nothing changed for five years, which brought me to the post of two weeks ago. Still no house, and still no love. It never bugged me before, but all of a sudden it was a big deal. It wore at me emotionally. I felt like shit. I was no longer content, but stuck in a rut.

My focus was off. I was homing in on goals that I have not achieved. Those goals were somehow intimidating. All of these houses are out of my budget. All of these houses suck. I’m an asshole; why would anyone love me? All I could see were pitfalls.

So I needed to refocus. I went over all of my accomplished goals with myself. “Not only did you go to college for cheap, but you graduated with honors.” “Not only did you get a job in your career field within months of earning your degree, but you are boss values your thoughts and ideas.” “You can be selfish at times, but you are also incredibly empathetic.” “You value your friends, and they value in return.” I was able to list accomplishment after accomplishment. As cheesy was it sounds I gave myself a pep talk.

And it worked! It was easy to look at my unaccomplished goals and not fear them anymore. I have time to find the house that fits my budget and that I will love. Once I buy a house, I can actively search and find love. Until then, I will continue to love myself, and love my friends and family.

Turns out the difference between being content and being stuck is your outlook. There’s a need to move on in both outlooks. However, being stuck is seeing no future for yourself, while being content is seeing all of the possibilities of your future, but also loving who you are right now. Finally, I’m content; I’m content with moving forward.

So where do you go from here when it all disappears
Apathy dries your tears until you don’t care or you live and die
Occupied with disclaimers and reasons as to why realize life isn’t lived in fantasies
No matter how much planning or strategy
Joy comes along with tragedy I own them all gladly
John Reuben, All I Have

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