One of the themes that runs through my discussion of life, both in terms of work and relationships, is that of discontent. Why are so many people of my generation, roughly ten years older to five years younger, so damn dissatisfied with everything? People fall in love and get married and in a year they’re divorced–not because of anything drastic, but just because they couldn’t get along. How can you have been in a three or four year relationship and only realised you don’t get along after you got married? You kill yourself working insane hours for some fat paycheque but have anxiety attacks on saturday because the day after tomorrow is Monday? It doesn’t matter if your job makes you happy–it’s only valid if it makes you money? You might be happiest in academia but you have to pretend you like being a consultant because it comes with prestige and money?
My own theory is simply this. All our lives we have been told we can do anything*, we can be anything. We have heard that it is not only possible to have it all, but also that we must not settle for anything less than all. Whatever you want to be, you can be. Just follow the steps. You will succeed. When you fall in love, time will stop, everything will fall into place, all the planets will align and everything will work seamlessly. Your partner will be your best friend, dynamite in bed, always understand what you feel, always take your side in everything, fall into perfect sync with your friends and family, never be tried and cranky at the same time as you, and so on.
But you know, that’s kinda not how it works.
Maybe one path to some semblance of stability and peace for all of us to accept that no, you cannot be anyone or anything, you cannot do anything or anyone, and that’s okay. You have to decide what matters to you. In a job, do you want money, appreciation, work-life balance, or inspiration? You can’t have it all. And likely you won’t have any of them 100%. But think about it and figure out your ratio. Similarly with relationships–what are your real dealbreakers? You know life is not going to be neatly split down the middle fifty-fifty; it’s not even going to be you cook and I clean, more often than not it’s a constantly changing shifting morass and very often you’re both exhausted or in crisis at the same time, and you will fight and be terribly hurt–in some ways the definition of love is the ability to wound.
Seriously, someone needs to remind us all that no, you do NOT have infinite possibilities!
*Yes I follow a site called the Art of Manliness. I find myself far more interested in masculinity than feminism, because I think that in this day and age and in my context, as well as some others, masculinity is the key to feminism. Also lots of interesting DIY tips. Hee.