I haven't been around much, mainly due to the fact that this has been one hell of a transition period that just now seems to be settling down (might take a bit longer for the tension in my mind and body to fade, but I'm working on that as well). I have a day off today (public holiday) and felt the need to sit around and do nothing all day. Feels magical and well-deserved, and it's lead me to want to share new things going on in my life and how the lessons taught here apply. Might be a long read.
Back in March, my girlfriend (now fiancee) and I were laying in bed and thinking about our future. Our two options were to either stay in the city we were studying, where I would teach at a language school and she would work as an assistant there. This was something we both were doing while studying, so the question was whether to move into it full time. It seemed like an OK option, but not one with growth - there's no way to level up from being a teacher, and she has much more skills and qualifications than to be an assistant. I really did enjoy teaching and I was good at it, but I hated the idea of not having anywhere to grow, of it only taking advantage of a minority of my skills, and of the fact that my girl would basically be settling. We thought about moving to Germany or Norway for a few years to make enough money to start a family when we came back, but that was a sucky option as well. No professional growth, minimal social life, and manual work for the next few years.
So we decided to move to the capital city here and start looking for jobs as we were finishing up our Master's thesis and school and working part-time jobs. It was an extremely stressful period with lots of interview rounds and travelling and rejection, but in the end, we both got jobs. I'm extremely satisfied, working for a big company in a challenging position where there is ample room for growth and a team of like-minded and open people. She is not and is looking to change jobs, but that's still in the process of being sorted out. But we transitioned, we live in our own apartment now, split costs and are basically learning to be independent adults. It's been quite a trip with many, many lessons and hard times that forced growth. Some that come to mind:
1.) Working together with your partner to create the foundation for our future family is extremely satisfying. We've talked about this after we started going out for a few months and the feeling has only grown. Might not hold true for some people here, but for me personally, it's a whole new level of motivation and thinking. For this to happen though, you have to do the inner work to authentically attract a person who then reciprocates what you're putting into the relationship and with whom you can work together on this whole life thing. You have to have boundaries that you actually enforce. You have to be able to stick true to your beliefs but not have an ego big enough that it can't listen and entertain the possibility of those beliefs being either selfish or weak. Most importantly, I think you have to continuously work on self-love and self-acceptance.
2.) Relationships bring out your weaknesses, insecurities and ego. Especially when you try to surpress them. For me, it was feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing, feelings of weakness, depression and injustice. For her, there were many expressions of the ego that would manifest and become more and more frequent, mainly anger and mirroring of self-loathing she had. There was a time where I thought she simply stopped respecting me, found somebody that had more than what I was giving her and that this was her way of sabotating the relationship, either consciously or subconsciously. Only after a lot of meditating and then talking about things did I finally start to accept that this was one ego reacting to another ego, and that it coming out so much more frequently only meant it would be easier to deal with. So we meditated and talked and tripped and basically uncovered childhood wounds in each of us that were deeper than I cared to venture myself. And despite our imperfections, I see both of us working constantly at being better people and learning from the relationship. Things aren't always harmonious, but we challenge each other and make ourselves better while supporting each other and working towards a common goal. And much has been said about love here and I probably don't want to get into that debate, but I do feel it and I feel it more strongly as time goes on. Maybe not more strongly...just deeper down.
3.) The key to everything is discipline. And cultivating discipline means accepting that the things that make you successful are to be done regularly, and that they are things that most people will not want to do. There is no mind-hack to making a 5 a.m. run feel good when the other option is staying in bed. Working hard when there is uncertainty or a mass of things that need to be taken care of doesn't feel better than scrolling Facebook, even after you make the decision. Basically growing up in this respect has made a world of difference.
4.) Developing a pimp-tight mindset will mean cutting people out of your life. It's been both natural (drifting apart), but also situations where I simply enforced a boundary and said either quit acting this way or I'm cutting you out of my life (and the person stepped over the boundary again). There has been a problem I've had with enforcing things too much, and lashing out at the smallest signs of not acting fairly towards me, but that was overcompensation for a lifetime of being stepped over so that people liked me and me feeling like I was lied to because that never made people like me. Basically pent up resentment and anger, so that has also been a trip - finding balance and not overcompensating for my "past life".
I must say, I've lost a lot of people I considered to be friends when I started treating them accordingly or pursued things that made me happy. It's a natural byproduct, and one I think I was a bit afraid of and the reason I didn't go down this road earlier.
5.) Allowing and letting go is such a layered and complicated thing, and yet it's so so simple. It honestly fascinates me. The point I've come to is seeing that whatever is inside of you in the present moment is ok and letting it take place and not acting on it. I've tried feelings things intensely so that it goes away and was stuck on that phase for a while. And I've had difficulty accepting self-loathing towards some part of myself, because I tried to force "full acceptance" of myself, not seeing that I needed to hear the self-loathing out, not try to reason with it but simply see it and let it be.
6.) One of my main problems was a vice-grip like pressure I had on being 100% at all times. This lead to stress, a heart condition, self-hate when I would inevitably be not perfect, and less achievements than I could have had because of the lethargy and hopelessness this caused ("I'll never be the way I should be"). Learning to take a step back from time to time, and especially learning to recognize when I do this throughout the day, has been huge. The only way this was possible was because of daily meditation and little mindfulness checks. Basically, abandoning the need for constant comfort but also learning to indulge in it in order to be able to grind.
7.) Drink 3l of water a day. Sleep for at least 7,5h a day. Eat healthy. Do physical excercise that makes you feel challenged as you're doing it and good after you're finished. Meditate. Pursue a hobby. These are things all people know we should do, and yet feeling happy and fulfilled feels like a mystery. 90% of people's troubles would be solved if people actually did these things and did them with discipline.
Yeah, so adulthood is a trip! Paying bills, maintaining your household (I thank God that she is good at this, because I am not), working a full-time job and trying to grow in other areas outside of it is a great teacher. So is inner work and meditation. But those two are beasts when they come together. Facing the real world, accepting what fears and undesirable emotions come up, and acting on principle and long-term vision instead of them is basically the way I've made the most progress. Sometimes fear has a legitimate thing to say. It oftentimes does not, and that is why awareness and introspection are so crucial. But it's very hard to fall into the rabbit hole of constant introspection that leads to no steps being made in life.
I also believe that the extremism that has cropped up all over the world, on both sides of the political spectrum, is the result of a crisis in self-acceptance and self-love. People needing to pick a position that makes them feel better and part of a group and defending it with rising hysteria and outrage is such a common phenomena that it's become the norm. I do hope the things I read about a spiritual revolution coming are true.
Take it easy, man. But take it.