What about the present?

by | Feb 25, 2023

I often find myself lying in bed at night for what seems like hours, ruminating over the uncertainty of my future. My mind conjures up multiple scenarios – some fanciful, others terrifying – that may or may not happen: what will my life look like in the next several years? I might not fall in love, or find my dream job, or travel as much as I’d like to. I might not have the time to be there for those I care about. I might not even live on the same planet I’ve known since I was born. On the other hand, I reproduce past events, and sometimes it gets so real I feel I am going through that one specific situation all over again.

It feels like everything needs to be done before turning 30, as though after one hits that age, all the possibilities and multiple paths ahead of us would shrink into an unalterable and unescapable one-way road. I think that one of the main reasons behind this lies in the fact that, at least for me, social media makes it impossible not to compare my life to others’, a process in which I watch my own identity fade into an unattainable idealization of someone who seems very far from myself. This results in a sort of involution for me. Instead of being inspired by other people’s success, I become completely paralyzed and convinced that I will never be able to achieve my goals, so I end up doing nothing and even more confused about what those goals really are. I also realize that when I actually see a project through, get high grades or attain anything I worked hard for, I do not fully enjoy it. I end up unconsciously going through all the possible reasons that my success is not related to my own actions (kind of an Imposter Syndrome thing). This is on a personal level.

The same, and maybe worse, happens to me when dealing with social, political, and environmental issues. Knowing that I play such a small part in worldwide situations that make people suffer so much, such as poverty and famine, overwhelms me and prevents me from actually taking the first step in doing something, as insignificant as it may seem at the beginning. I think about kids living in the most harsh conditions in countries far away from my home -not being able to eat before they go to sleep or go to school every day- but I actually live in a country where this happens, not to mention I live 30 minutes away from one of the biggest shanty towns in Buenos Aires. The root causes of this go back to years and years of political failure in Argentina, which we continue to see in recent governments. This quite discourages me while considering engaging in local community activities, for example, since I know that eventually I will not change anything.

When reflecting on this, what occurs to me is that perhaps I limit my actions to those fields I feel comfortable with, because I am used to avoiding failure and aiming for perfection since I was a kid. For instance, after two years at the company I work for, my boss was insisting I accept a promotion, but I was simply too comfortable, and did not have the self-confidence to take on more responsibilities. Ultimately, this derives in a self-imposed restriction that keeps new challenges away from me, and consequently, new possible victories. But, am I the one who should hold full responsibility regarding this? To what extent did the context I grew up in intervene? How am I supposed to contribute to society by bringing in innovative ideas, when I am condemned to fear defeat? These questions resonate quite frequently in my head, mostly when I notice it is not just me who goes through this struggle.

From what I am expressing, it may appear that my concerns are merely focused on future events. However, I am pretty attached to the past as well, as my dreams like to remind me. Those memories that I play in a loop are mostly good ones, and I probably go back to them as a source of comfort and joy. Of course, many times I also stand in front of those things that did not go as I had planned, and I worry about them as if I could change anything now, which just gets me frustrated. As opposed to what I explained before about my immediate search for justification in light of any gains, I tend to analyze my past decisions without considering the whole picture, and blame myself entirely for the poor results that may have been caused. Basically, if something goes well for me, it must be thanks to the circumstances, but if something goes wrong, circumstances do not exist and I am the only one to blame.

Over the years, concepts like “emotional intelligence” and “self awareness” fortunately came into my life through different ways, and I learned -and I am still learning- how to manage my own emotions and focus on the present, which is often forgotten these days. I am supportive of the cliché “live in the moment”, but I am also realistic about how difficult it gets when you are constantly paying more attention to what others are experiencing than to what you are, when you not only worry about what will come but also about what did not come as you expected. I do not pretend to stop thinking about the future and the past; both planning ahead and learning from previous mistakes are obviously key parts of survival. I intend to make the best out of it, by being more gentle and fair to myself, finding motivation in what is yet to come and knowing that not everything will go just as I think it will.

Related Posts