I sometimes get jealous of people who are perfectly content staying where they are. Just being honest. I used to work with people like that. Same boring job for decades, and they seemed genuinely content. Ugh, I loved and hated those people. Why is contentment so elusive for someone like me?
I mentioned to my wife last night that sometimes I wish I was wired differently. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m comfortable with who I am. Most of the time. But every once in a while my insecurities swim to the surface and make me wonder whether the amount of pain and heartache I’m bringing on myself while pursuing my dream is worth it.
I guess it’s that whole “grass is always greener” thing. Instead of looking at all of the cool things I’ve learned and accomplished while pursuing my dreams, I can sometimes do the math about where we’d be financially if I had just stayed put and been content with a job I didn’t like.
Thankfully, all I have to do is remember what it felt like doing the same old thing every day. I remember not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Sure, getting paid every two weeks like clock-work was great, but at some point even that was not enough to keep me where I was. I must have really been miserable.
I’m not saying that we would be “rollin’ in the benjamins” if I’d not left my 9-5; as I’ve previously mentioned I had all but hit the ceiling of where I could go without a college degree, and going back to school to learn about something that didn’t interest me just seemed awful. But starting your own business can take a serious investment of time and money.
This is one of the many reasons I love my wife and why God said it is not good for Geoff to be alone. Because lately any time I bring up the money I’ve spent and continue to spend on my business, she just says “Hey, every one has college loans they need to pay off.” And she’s right. If I had stayed put, I would have had to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to a college or university to get any further in my career, and I didn’t even like the industry I was in. Instead, I have total control over where the money goes and how I invest in my future. And even though in business you have to spend money in order to make money, I am spending the money to build something I am proud of and resonates with the core of my character. I should think of it as my own personal college loan. Except it is cheaper and directly effects my business on a practical level. Either way I would’ve had to spend money, why not on something I am truly passionate about?
So yeah, maybe things would be “easier” if I had someone else’s personality and was able to be content going with the flow, but I have to remind myself that I am not like other people. No one really is like anyone else. We are all uniquely wired with idiosyncrasies and weirdness that would drive another person crazy. I also can’t assume that other people are content just because they may be better at putting on a brave face than I was/am. I guess I’m just more easily agitated than everyone else. Not that surprising.
As I think about this idea of contentment, I think my frustration mostly comes when my perspective is off-balance. Perhaps when we focus too much on the dream destination, we see the journey as more of an obstacle to getting what we want rather than the necessary route to get there.
After I play a gig, and it’s after midnight, I feel a sense of dread when I remember that I still have to pack up my gear and drive for 45 minutes before I can get in my cozy bed. But when I focus on the journey home instead of my cozy bed, and making the most of the time I have in the car, it helps me to enjoy it. I get to listen to music or a podcast, or maybe even swing by Taco Bell for the beautifully delicious “4th meal.” I’m fat, I know, and I’m not even sorry. #SorryNotSorry
Anyway, having your eyes on the prize may be a good motivator, but it can also trip you up if you’re not watching where you going in the meantime. You also don’t want to start looking at other people on the road and comparing your journey to their journey. You don’t know their story and worrying about them will keep you from writing your own.
I will continue to pray for contentment because I know that it is ultimately something I should have in my life. But I also believe that God is taking me through these difficult seasons to teach me what contentment really is- enjoying the journey, and not just arriving at a destination.