“What do you want?”
This is the question my friend and mentor, Nate Green, asked me the other night on the phone.
Just that simple four word question stopped me in my tracks.
The broad simplicity of the question increased in complexity the longer I thought about it, and I wasn’t really sure how to answer. I bumbled on about my career goals, how I want to make a living working as a full-time remote writer someday, I talked a little about how I want to have a family and a healthy, happy relationship someday, and that someday I’d like to live where I feel at home (in other words, Moscow, Idaho).
However, after rambling for a few minutes, when I stopped talking I still felt like I hadn’t really answered the question. Not that Nate was looking for a certain answer either, since I’m the only one who could actually answer the question.
Ultimately, while there are some specific things that I want in my life, I don’t have the answer to Nate’s question, and probably won’t for a long time. And that’s ok. It’s a great question to keep in the back of my mind as I begin this next chapter of my life.
As many of you may know, Amber and I recently separated. It was an amicable breakup, and while there were long conversations and lots of tears, we both have a great care and adoration for one another, and we plan to remain friends as we head into our individual journeys.
With the separation I’ve decided to leave Missoula, Montana to head back to the Tri-Cities, Washington, to be closer to family and friends, and I’ll be staying with my parents for a stint while I get back on my feet.
I also had a realization about this last part that I thought was quite funny, but I think most the people I’ve told were slightly worried I may be losing it, in that “crazy guy who’s laughing at his own pain and is going to snap and scream at a bunch of people at the mall and jump in front of a bus” kind of way. Either way, I’ll tell you anyways, because I truly find it funny, and maybe you will too: I’m that 26 year old guy who lives in his Mom’s basement. I don’t know why, but it just makes me laugh.
Anyways, it’s been a very tumultuous past month or so, and never in my life have I dealt with such major life changes and transitions. When I was still in the relationship, I often thought of how awful it may be if Amber and I were to break up, and it scared me to see where my depression may take me in that situation.
However, something interesting has happened; I think I may be more resilient than I once thought. There have been some very low lows and sleepless nights, and the emotional pain has been extraordinary (I’m also 99% sure my hairline has receded at an unprecedented rate over the past month, but I have no hard evidence to support that…), but one thing has remained throughout all of it: An underlying sense of hope for the future.
This hope for a brighter and happier future was small in the beginning of this whole process, but now, about a month out, it continues to grow. Of course, I’m still incredibly stressed, much of that stemming from my fledgling finances, but nonetheless, I have avoided that pure sense of hopelessness that I’ve experienced in the past.
With that being said, I have a ton of work to do. I’ve fallen out of many of the routines that have kept me productive in years past, but I’m excited to get back at things, particularly as it concerns my writing.
This, for instance, is my first pure blog post in four months. That’s not to say I haven’t been doing any writing, I have, but nonetheless, when I fall out of the routine of my blog it is quite easy for other areas to slip.
Throughout this whole experience there is something else that has stood out to me: There are a lot of people out there who have a lot of empathy, and people that care about me.
I’ve received dozens of texts, emails, and phone calls from people checking on my wellbeing, and offering a sympathetic ear.
Such as Nate, who I’ve only met once in person, taking time out of his busy schedule to call and chat with me the other night, and offer me some sage advice and words of encouragement.
Or my friends back in the Tri-Cities who took me out for beers, assured me that everything would be alright, and helped to distract me from the pain.
Or friends from my old job at WSU, who have talked through things with me and helped me keep my chin up.
And of course, my incredible family, who has been an absolute rock for me, including helping me move back to the Tri-Cities, my parents taking me back into their home, and just being the best support system I could ever ask for.
In other words, I have a lot of amazing people in my friend and family network, and words can’t express the level of appreciation I have for these people. Thank you everyone, so much, I love you all.
Although it’s been one of the most painful months of my life, I’m excited for the new journeys that lie ahead as I begin writing the next chapter of my life. Where I go and who I’ll be a year from now, or five years from now, are mysteries, but I’m excited to find out, and I think good things are bound to happen.
Lastly, in this new chapter, I plan to do things a little differently. I want to open myself up to new things, new places, and new experiences. I want to branch out of my introverted little cocoon I often build for myself, and experience the world in ways I haven’t before.
Branching out is a scary thought, especially for an introvert with social anxiety such as myself, but I think I’m ready to tackle some things in my life that I’ve been avoiding for a long time.
As Nate told me the other night on the phone: “What’s the worst that could happen?
“You die. And then you don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
Here’s to not taking life so seriously, and doing things while we’re still alive.