I crave significance. Why I do isn’t very important. When I say crave significance, I mean, from a young age, I have wanted my life to matter in a profound way. I fear being insignificant or meaningless.
Through the years, I have tried all kinds of ways to create meaning. When I was a teenager, it came in the form of rebellion. didn’t want to seem like a mindless carbon copy of my peers. I railed against the established norms of my generation by listening to different music, wearing different clothes, and rejecting all the famous and popular icons they had all embraced. I was also a total shithead. I I thought being different was my way to be more significant and special.
Instead, it isolated me further until I was very significantly depressed.
I continued my struggle to find meaning by joining the Navy and abandoning school for a short time. Upon my return in 2009, even more directionless and desperate, my path from there could only be described as Not at All What I Fucking Wanted or Expected or Even Remotely Needed. Ever been there? I bet most of you have. It sucks.
I finally found the career I truly wanted and was excited about–and to my own surprise, it wasn’t in the field of writing. Okay, so problem solved! There is no greater significance than finding a career, right?
Wrong. Because purpose does not entirely equate to significance. Hell, happiness doesn’t equate to significance.
Let me digress for a moment:
I have several fictional plotlines and characters that I’ve developed over the years (they’ve resulted in half-finished short stories). One of them, whom my son is named after, Alex Stone, answers a question at one point from a friend/therapist who is sort of subtly interrogating him. She asks him, “Are you satisfied with your life?” He’s a big-time musician and producer who has won many awards. He tells her, “No, I’m never satisfied with my life. But I’m happy with it.”
I think I finally truly get that line because it applies to me. I wouldn’t say I’m “happy”, per se, but I’m happy, the way Alex is, about the choices I’ve made for my career and for accomplishing my goals. However, I’m never really satisfied. There’s never enough. It’s not good enough. I’m always pushing. In a way, that’s good. I think many people could relate to that.
But the way it manifests can be ugly.
For one, and perhaps most, ahem, significantly, I tend to get very depressed very easily when I feel my life is “slipping by”. I’m not seizing the day every single moment! I’m not capturing what could be a day full of opportunity! I AM WASTING MY POTENTIAL.
So much of my life is wasted potential it feels. How many days have I wasted away? I am 28. Each year, I marvel at how I’m getting older with very little to show for it (despite my excitement for my career). Each year, it’s going to get worse. I will feel more and more regret at what I haven’t done. How I don’t feel satisfied. How I don’t even really feel all that happy.
My whole life has been about overcoming this feeling.
The terrifying part to me is what if I never do? I wish I had something encouraging or inspirational to tell you. I wish I could tell you the steps I’m taking to overcome it.
Truth is I’m doing what you’re probably doing: the best I can. I drown out and numb the pain until it becomes this dull aching. I put on a front. I enjoy what little reprieve I can get. But at the end of the day, I know what I’m coming home to. I just hope I finally find my answer.