Four years out of college, I’m among a throng of twenty-something year olds who place what will someday seem like a disproportionate amount of value in how “put together” our lives are. Despite the strangely intuitive chase for acceptance through arbitrary expectations, the whole process already seems exhausting.
When I try to figure out why, I’m brought back to one of my first classes at my alma mater, Adrian College. Bright eyed and bushy (pony)tailed, I attended Introduction to Philosophy.
Trust me when I say I wanted to be there – then, I had perfectly well-intentioned delusions that I’d spend my whole career entrenched in the theoretical details of humanity. But a class at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning is more like a rehabilitation clinic than an education. With every blink, the brain flirts with a deep-rooted sleep deprivation, simultaneously savoring and resisting each heavy flit of the eyelids.
Through that half-conscious haze, I remember having some heated arguments and realizing quickly who my friends might be. There were also a lot of things I’ve forgotten since then, things that are now a mere idealistic pang that tempt me to reach for my old philosophy textbook. And now I feel even guiltier after admitting that I haven’t cracked it open since then. But to the things that do jangle around in my memory, I give great importance and even attribute a little winkle from the universe.
You might question a winkle – a feeling that came to you right out of the blue – but you didn’t question knowing.
— Stephen King, “Hearts in Atlantis”
So why does the chase always seem fruitless, and what can I possibly do about that?
That philosophical winkle reminded me that our perception of reality becomes reality. Our perception of reality is limited by who we are: what we have seen, known, felt, dared, feared, and wanted.
And for as long as we accept these unaccommodating standards of what a “put together” life looks like, we will only be overreaching and omitting important parts of ourselves to weave an unflattering tapestry out of our lives. We have our own realities to honor and expand. We should tailor the fabric of our lives to ourselves instead of using a neighbor or a coworker or even family as a dress form.
Habitually Hopeful is a personal quest and a challenge to others to improve our realities by improving ourselves. If we don’t take it upon ourselves to grow, we may never see the changes we desire.
To end this long-awaited inaugural post, I turn to you: What are the changes you want to see in your life? What motivates your desire to change?