Don’t let your string get tangled

Someone said to me that it’s good to do this every once in a while, get out of a rut, but if you have to do that every now and then, what kind of life is that? A cycle of falling in and out of happiness, no, that’s not how it ought to be. At least that’s not how I want to live. But, it is harder than it seems. It’s an ongoing process.

I recently visited my hometown and on the way to my parent’s house, the gravel road they live on wasn’t exactly in the best shape after some spring showers. As we drove on the wrong side of the road to stay out of the deep ruts on the right side of the road, it dawned on me how easy it is to avoid the rut when you can see it right in front of you.

Even when you think you’re doing things to make progress and improve your circumstances, I’m learning to spot the ruts that aren’t so obvious. In my quest to live life differently and accomplish a few things, I had an epiphany regarding my living situation, realizing how silly it is to rent, throwing money down the drain every month. Say what you want about my generation, the millennials, but I’ve always been very good at the whole adulting thing, except for this one area apparently.

Having seen my failure in establishing a real estate investment years ago, I was antsy to remedy the situation–got in touch with an agent and started looking at houses. I quickly found the one; it was just perfect enough, and I started the ball rolling to make it happen. Surprisingly, this is where it all came crashing down.

It started with an idea, a suggestion from someone else, that I was willing to entertain because I really, really, really wanted to buy that house. But as I tried to wrap my head around the idea of going back to a real teaching job, something my sister (a teacher herself) has always pushed me toward, I started to feel conflicted. Suddenly, it wasn’t about the house, but dueling agendas.

At this point, I didn’t care about the house anymore. All I knew was that I was in a war over what would make others happy versus what I wanted for myself. Texts were responded to with a simple “k” or nothing at all, phone conversations while out in public sounded pleasant, I’m sure. Now, while you might expect for well-adjusted, adult siblings to eventually hash out their problems face to face in a civil manner, we did not. Instead, we both called our mom to vent about the other one. Some things in life never change.

While it was nice to get things off my chest, that conversation with my mom was pivotal. At the end of it, I felt lost. Lost when I started out with a clear direction to buy a house, now I didn’t know what I wanted. Somehow everything had spiraled into a tangled mess of strings all bunched together, everyone else’s ideas mixed in with mine.

While she was supportive of my plan to buy a house, my mom asked me something in that conversation that I hesitated to answer. Not because I didn’t know how to, but because of what it would mean. She thought I should buy a house, but she asked if I really wanted to buy one in the city I currently lived. The answer was no. No matter how perfect the house, the city was wrong, another rut I didn’t know was holding me back.

I realized that new isn’t always better. Had I gone through with buying a house there, it wouldn’t have changed anything, not in the long run anyway. While it’s nice to get new things, big or small, eventually it all becomes old or used, slowly digging into the foundation of your life creating new ruts you don’t notice.

I hate feeling lost, I’m sure everyone does. There is no perfect road map to figuring it out either, but I took that pile of string and started to untangle it until I had mine separated from the rest. Once I did, the clarity started to return to me as the string became straight again, a line with a clear direction, meaning and purpose.

You’ve got to follow your own path, so don’t let your string get tangled.

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