Sometimes trying to live our lives feels like we’re filling out a resume.
Go to school.
Go to university.
Get a job.
What happens, though, when you’ve filled out that resume and you’re not satisfied? What happens when you realize you’ve filled out a resume for a position you never really wanted in the first place? Does it even matter if we’re happy? We were given that checklist by society long before we knew how to make choices. There wasn’t even a doubt that we wanted to be anything other than clones.
Even the time to make mistakes is carefully meditated. You have to get all the mistakes out of your system when you’re young. If you don’t make those mistakes then you’re not well-rounded. You’ll never have friends, never be relatable, never be human. And even if you’re reserved, sheltered, all those things we who aren’t so lucky yearn to be, you can’t miss that deadline. Because then you’re too old, so you need to be smarter than that, more mature.
That’s where I’m at. I’m old enough to know better but still not complacent enough to think this is all there is. It just doesn’t make sense to me, how we can grieve the death of young people because their life was so full of potential, but not of those who have lived a long life and not done what makes them happy because they were too busy filling out that checklist. Society robbed their life just like chance robbed those young faces we see on TV screens.
My sister calls me an existentialist, says that I’ve been looking for the reason I was put on this Earth since I realized that perhaps that reason didn’t exist. I still think it’s a fair question.
I finished high school, finished university, got my masters, my doctorate and made my mistakes. Now I have a job and I don’t feel like I’m any closer to having meaning than when I was five years old and asking my father why I had to go to school instead of going fishing out on his boat.
The thing is, I don’t want to finish the resume for a position I already know I don’t want. I want to be happy and I’m not so sure that’ll come with marriage and children. After all, if that was the answer then I should hunger for those things, shouldn’t I? My cousin wanted a child so much she signed up to adopt as a single parent. That’s someone who wants a kid.
Sometimes it feels like I need to be part of a fantasy book to have a better chance of finding out what I wanted to do. Going to Hogwarts, throwing a ring into the fires of Mordor or slaying a dragon sound infinitely better. Yet at the end of those stories there’s always an element of our society that bleeds into it because the characters get a chance to find romance and have children. It’s like someone was saying, your fun is over, now get back to work, because what good is killing the Dark Lord if you don’t continue the legacy? Then you’re just a man who achieved nothing in your later years in life.
It doesn’t seem fair.
The thing is, I’ve felt a bit of that spark that makes you want to get up in the mornings. I was in university and I was running low on money. There was a pub down the street from my flat where I had my first job. I genuinely liked it. Sure, there were not so great moments, like the time I’d had to call the cops on these two guys who got into fight like they weren’t going to stop until they physically couldn’t anymore.
However, there was something about it I liked. Meeting people had always seemed a bit special to me, how you could meet and talk to hundreds of people that each had a well of opinions, thoughts and passions so deep you could keep digging and never reach the bottom. That they all had quirks, habits and behaviours that were different to mine, that all had different reasons. And what I loved was how sometimes they opened up with stories and anecdotes drawn out of them by the looseness of alcohol and the security of a listening ear.
Sometimes I went home and wrote those stories down so they’d be something tangible instead of words lost into space. If I had to save something in a fire it’d be those journals instead of any of my diplomas. I knew who I was in that pub better than I had on stage receiving any kind of award.
But if I die full of stories instead of with a wife and children, will it matter? Will people mourn me or the potential they thought I hadn’t met?
I suppose it doesn’t matter, really. I won’t really know.
It’s not like I would leave my six figure paycheck for a job, even if it were to open my own pub to make it a bit more respectable that all I wanted to do was serve drinks and talk to the people that passed by. And I wouldn’t disappoint my parents by not marrying some nice girl and raising a couple of kids. If my parents think grandchildren will make them happy then it’s up to me to try to give them that, isn’t it? They put me on this Earth after all.
There’s a part of me that says, though, that I owe it to myself to find my own happiness.
But it’s like I said, I’m old enough to know better.