I'm in one of those contemplative moods again--it's funny, sometimes these questions just appear to me from out of the great Nowhere and I feel like it's some kind of test that I have to figure out the answer to, and then I obsess over it for days. Who is asking the question? It must be me, but it feels like it's coming from somewhere else.
Two things have made me think about this recently--firstly, my friend Charity posted a clip on Facebook about what you really want (taken from the Notebook) you know, one of those "but what do you REALLY want?" things, and she listed some of her wants afterward, then posed the question.
I guess that question in itself caught me off guard because lately I haven't been thinking that deeply, but then I read this article (thanks Kaelah) which talks about how we waste time "finding" ourselves when our "selves" are simply there, waiting. It brought to mind a quote I love: "The horrible things that happened to you didn't make you: you always were."
One of those life-changing questions for me, several years ago, was that exact dilemma--are we who we are? Or are we what our life has shaped us? I could go on about why I believe that I have always been myself, and it would include a lot of depressing childhood stories and memories and tales of resilience, but maybe I'll save that rant for another day. The point is, I do believe we are who we are, and it's not the circumstance that changes us, but rather our reactions to circumstances that reinforce who we were to begin with, that really showcase who we are rather than create some sub-personality trait(s).
Anyway, with this philosophy in mind, I had to ask myself what it was I truly wanted from life at this very moment. Things have definitely not gone in a linear or even slightly understandable way--ever, really--but particularly from the moment I turned 24. I've done a lot of traveling, but I don't think in retrospect I was "finding myself." I was looking for something else. Maybe a home. Maybe acceptance. Maybe success. I think it was a bit of all of these. I sidestepped around the whole western hemisphere and landed right back here in Utah, more confused than ever. So maybe like the article suggested, it's time to listen to myself and not try to find or locate anything or anyone.
So, what do I want? The answer comes pretty quickly and easily. I want an education. I want to go to school and learn about geology and chemistry and with some luck, nuclear physics. I want to give myself a second chance at math and actually believe that I'm intelligent; my fear of being stupid is a huge roadblock in my life and it's time to confront it. Looking at other aspects of my life, they've changed but I'm content with what they are (home, job, social life, personal life.) One thing that I get hung up on, in fact, the hugest thing I get hung up on in therapy these days is mourning who I "could have been." As in, what would have happened to me, this person I've always been, had I been brought up in a nurturing, learning-appreciative environment, and not a hillbilly version of Auschwitz.
This answer came pretty easily to me and that's strange considering that I have been afraid of going back to school for years. Basically since I left college and went out into the real world I sort of vowed that school was off the table until I won the lottery and married Till Lindemann and raised an empire of savage warriors who could protect me emotionally while I learned. Again, I have a pretty big fear of my own stupidity, and a lot of remorse at imagining what I could have done in a happier home.
But then the looming question surfaced: Where does this want come from? That led to a snowball of deeper questions--where do all wants come from? Are some wants more credible than others? How do I know if this want is credible? What is the shelf life on wants?
I surmised (I think correctly) that I have always had this desire, but I want this now because other facets in my life I have been working on, are pretty stable and I have put things where I want them. I am not agonizing over how awful my job is or how I feel unloved or how my apartment is a junky mess. Those things are in order. I've succeeded. So the next phase of my life goals has simply slipped into my subconscious wants, and when I called out to see what I should work toward, it popped up. This is really fascinating to me and sort of reinforces the whole "we are who we are" thing. I didn't decide to go to science because all of my life experience pointed me there. Man, I was doing the science thing in first grade. My biology teacher in high school actually made a personal call to my parents after some ridiculous statewide test that I aced with no studying whatsoever--I fucking love science, man. I remember feeling so disheartened every time I changed schools because my math skills suffered the most, and I was unable to keep up in chemistry class. I remember basically eating my entire geology book for the one geology class I took because I was so fascinated. I remember having a rock collection at ten years old, the only source of rock identification being our dusty old encyclopedia's from the 70's.
But, due to circumstances, I couldn't (or wouldn't) even think about school or science or being the next Marie Curie with a way less pleasurable accent. Now, also due to circumstances, I am allowed to think about it and even plan for it--my FAFSA was just filed last week. To me it's mindblowing, and honestly confusing, since "you're too dumb for school" has been a mantra I've carried since being a kid. I struggled through EMT school with self-doubt the entire time and just about had a panic attack my first day on campus. I think that I have more confidence now than I did then, having accomplished more, and I also think that I have calmed the fuck down and can listen to myself better. It's still strange being excited for something you've been too terrified to even visualize for most of your teenage and adult life, or having a sudden want that feels like part of you, but that was "hidden."
It really makes me wonder what other wants I have currently that I am not assessing or even noticing. I'm sure they're there, I just have no idea how to activate them. Maybe that's for the best--school is a big undertaking on its own and enough to concentrate on. Still, it makes me curious for the future (something I normally am not.)