“Difficult virtues are again necessary. And failure, permanent failure, is possible. But it is this possibility of failure, together with the formal bounds, that turns us back from fantasy, wishful thinking, and self-pity into the real terms and occasions of our lives. It may be, then, that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey.” (Wendell Berry)
I’m not sure if you’ve felt this way before, but recently I have been feeling pressure. Pressure to do things right, to genuinely invest in my community, to choose the right job, to select the right grad school, to be successful, to have people around me admire me. But I have also wondered where those feelings have come from – what makes me want to be that person? Do I even believe that this life is fulfilling?
Since I graduated from college, I have repeatedly uttered the phrase, “I just want to do something real.” I know I’m not the first person to have this urge, but it just felt different. I felt like I had a purpose, that everything was just a matter of time (perhaps I still feel this way…). After I graduated, I desperately looked forward to an international internship in Rwanda. I loved international travel. I loved other cultures. I believed in the organization. I wanted to go. This was it – my chance to do something real.
But while I was there, I constantly felt detached. I was a part of the community, but I didn’t fully belong. And then it finally hit me: I didn’t fully belong because I didn’t allow myself to fully belong. It was easier to detach myself than to truly invest in where I was because I was afraid (still am afraid) of commitment, of failure, of broken promises, and the pain of building deep relationships. Also, I realized that I was constantly looking forward to “the next thing.” Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to focus on what’s next to come, but it sure made it a lot easier to justify my detachment.
So with that, I decided that I need to stop making excuses for myself. I need to finally make a commitment to non-flakiness, to extreme sports-slash-life-in-general, and sustainable living (with some other things thrown in between).
I’m excited to begin this journey – to embrace real failure and, hopefully, with that, real work and a real journey. Tugende!