The detours we take to avoid living


Have you ever been in a place you knew you shouldn’t be?  I often struggle to identify the difference between where I ought to be and where I truly desire to be. There are plenty of voices in our lives that will tell us—be sensible, be small, be frugal, be considerate of everyone’s feelings except your own. It’s a circular sort of trap that I got caught in, torn between doing what was expected and what was nourishing to me deep down inside.

This past year has been a detour year. Of walking cautiously around and exploring inside this idea that happiness doesn’t mean forfeiting security. That fulfillment doesn’t mean being a horrible friend. My 20s were filled with the necessary adventures a young person takes to find their place in the world. Looking back, they, too, were detours—a sort of dance around what it really means to be alive in this world and not just admired by a few outsiders.

It got me thinking about the detours that are probably common to many of us.

  • Detours like the right salary, the wrong job.

  • Detours like being so busy you can’t see straight.

  • Detours like being a social butterfly so you don’t have to face the solace and quiet that inspiration needs to grow.

  • Detours like avoiding anything that doesn’t result in a monetary gain.

  • Detours like giving your gifts and talents to others in exchange for a week’s salary—and then giving your art the leftovers.

  • Details like filling your life with non-essentials and outer expectations so it appears like you have no choice but to be miserable.

I don’t think there’s any one thing I can say to persuade anyone to resist those detours. But what I can tell you is that eventually you will get fed up. Whether it’s a bad job, another judgmental boyfriend or girlfriend or unrelenting exhaustion from living a life that’s not truly yours. Your body will likely start giving you clues that it’s suffering, drowning—clues like unexplained weight gain, sleepless nights, weight loss, hair loss, reclusive social habits, depression. You know when you’ve reached the point of being fed up because that huge, weighing pressure will show up when you think you’re at your breaking point and it will be the biggest asshole in the world—and it will ask you if you’d like some more. Your friends will seem to be intruding and pushing and pulling on you even more. But here’s the deal: being fed up is the clearest possible message from deep inside you that something’s gotta give.

For me, I started small, like saying no to negative friendships. Then I started saying no to jobs that would end up cutting my hourly rate in half because the client has no idea how to follow directions. Then it started by saying no to dating guys who were “just OK” and saying yes to the universe that I wanted more. I started cutting my losses, pulling back and pulling in, protecting my time, my feelings, my energy. And you know what I found?

I found that there really, truly is enough abundance in the universe for me to not voluntarily bleed and suffer while everyone else is happy.

I found that peace and confidence can grow when I start telling myself yes and telling detours to take a hike.

Somewhere along the path of resisting more detours, I find myself arriving at the thing I’ve longed for the most: creative freedom, inner peace and a path to being a writer who doesn’t just invent things to talk about but discovers what’s already happening and writes about it in a way that makes the world make a little more sense.

So, here's to hoping you get fed up soon and you get fed up real good. Here's to saying yes to you.

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