The Next 5 Years…

This post is honestly going to come across more like a diary entry than anything else, but I felt the mental discussion might be useful to others.

My life has always felt more like a battle to survive than anything else. The first 13, everything was always up in the air. Would bill be paid? What health crisis would up-end my reality next. The next four, emotional turbulent, constantly balancing the demonstration of “happy” others wanted while inside I was in a constant state of fear and anxieties of destroying my life. Then college.

Now I stare at the horizon and ask myself, do I want to look at the next five years as another challenge to get through? Or how do I just focus on living?

All my life has been focused on one thing. Building a stable future for myself, and though that battle is still being fought, I realize that I’ve already begun habits, practices, and more to build that for myself. I pay bills regularly: rent, utilities, car payments, health insurance for my cat ect. Stability already surrounds me. Yet I feel trapped in the vicious mentality waiting for somethings to catastrophically uproot the life I am building. My sole focus, build better, do better, save more, prepare for the worst. Yet, that’s not living, that’s not what life is supposed to feel like.

So, the next five years, I want to focus more on living than surviving life. Bracing for the throws that it might throw my way because I’ve missed out on so much. It was always for a worthy cause, the mental energy expenditure, putting out fires left and right so I could keep moving forward. So that one day, I can sit in the quiet of knowing the ground will remain beneath me. What I didn’t see, is that left me closed off to forming lasting relationships. When I see things as temporary hurdles to get through, I don’t put energy towards forming relationships, I detach emotionally, relationship conflict as a form of distraction. Dates take up energy and time that could be better used elsewhere. Yet, I tried without ever trying, leaving me disconnected, always prepared to leave, always protecting myself for the inevitable reality that I would one day leave.

And to many in my life, I seem like an open book, but I know the truth, I know that there are invisible walls that surround my heart, preventing myself from being hurt. Scared to let anyone close enough because that proximity allows them power to hurt me, to cause pain when they are no longer there. It’s a strange reality of knowing I care too deeply when I let myself. Moderating emotions so that they will be well received. These impossible boundaries, that prevent me from experiencing all the life has to offer.

So, the next five years I want to focus on those relationships. I want to let people in, let them judge the not pretty portions of myself so that I do live a full and happy life.

Truth be told, the pandemic has left me feeling like the last few years have been lost in a blur. In years that I was supposed to be sitting in classrooms, studying abroad, immersing myself in collegiate experiences… I was forced to retreat to the walls of my bedroom, interact with strangers via a computer screen. It wasn’t safe to go to bars or clubs on my 21st birthday so I celebrated in my apartments with friends. Dreams of exploring New York City on my 21st lost.

Everyday lost in routine. The same people, the same environments, the feeling of remaining frozen.

And I watch as high school friends push forward on social media. Past judgements echoing in the back of my mind, now I wonder if my focus was wrong. “The mature thing” becoming my guidepost on my actions leaving me underdeveloped, scared to take risks because they might backfire. Dates I was closed off too because I go on each date expecting the same, that either of us will be disinterested in the other. Yet that perception makes me closed off, closed off to love, to letting them in.

I am comfortable being alone. It took a long time to get that way. I used to crave attention from others to fill the void I internally felt. Now, there’s discomfort in allowing anyone beneath the surface I cultivated. Sharing the bed that I get to keep to myself. The hours at the end of the night I crave to spend alone. Judgements of others about who I am attracted to, who I may be in a relationship, have prevented me from analyzing my own feelings.

So. Enough.

I have also had experiences over the past several years that have taught me that I should be the person other see me as. I have a tendency in relationships to conceal the controversial parts of myself, to show only the parts that people would approve of and like. Each situation I find myself in, I look for others to tell me how I am supposed to feel before I think about how I feel.

I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to feel seen; I want people to know me and like that version. I want what I always have, all the life will offer me. So, I’m reorienting my focus for the time being. I will care about school, care about my jobs, but I will also be open to experiences. Open to developing relationships with friends, family, and others.

Focus on building relationships with people who will be there through my highs and lows. It will take practice, it won’t be something I will excel at immediately, but it’s something I need to do. Because I don’t think life is meant to feel like a series of things to get through only to get to the other side at your death bed. I don’t want to live life that way.

I say this also to acknowledge the distance I’ve built into every relationship. The way I only allow people to see parts of me. Trying to accommodate every personality. Know that has always been about me. Assuming others don’t like me, or wouldn’t like me if you knew me, you wouldn’t like. As form of self-preservation. I am going to try to let people in a little more, that way I don’t feel like I am shouldering the weight of the world alone anymore.

So, what do I want the next five years to look like? I want to be open, happy, enjoy what life has to offer. Enjoy all sorts of firsts, make it through lows and be open to happy times when they are there. I want to fall-in-love when its time too when I meet someone who I’m supposed to. I don’t know about kids and marriage; I don’t know if those are things I am seeking yet. I just know I want to keep going, keep building a world around me that I am happy in.