I had a cup of tea one day and the tag on the filter said: “Self-reliance is the greatest art”. I kept that piece of paper and threw it in one of my drawers. From time-to-time I run into it and it always makes me stop and think about how I live. I have been trying to be independent and self-reliant for the last 16 years, and the more I try the more impossible it seems. We are not meant to be alone. We are meant to ask for help, provide support, work in teams, and accept our imperfection.
Apparently, however, I have an innate attitude to strive towards succeeding on my own, taking responsibility for every single part of my life and feeling like a failure if I cannot manage. I would not ask for help until my existence is in actual danger. Only because I want to be perfect at the art of self-reliance. Perfect at art – recently I’ve been learning how ridiculous this idea is.
THE TRANSITION NEVER ENDS
I’ve been going through one of the toughest periods of my life in the past months. Nah, years…well, I could say decades, but let’s not over dramatize, my life is great, awesome actually, and not only compared to the circumstances. But the latest challenge I put myself in was a learning experience I must assess in order to move forward.
2 years ago, I wrote a post about how I need to start building my own “castle”, not only working for others but actually creating something of my own. But I was in the middle of a huge life transition that I thought would settle sooner than it has. 7 months before that post I had taken a suitcase of clothes and my laptop and left everything. And I mean everything I built until then: the house I furnished, my car, my cats, my family, friends, my mentally ill partner, all the time, money and effort I put into that relationship and his life. Everything except for my remote job that was my anchor to survive in the unknown.
STABILITY IS A JUGGLING ACT
Starting my new life, I felt frustrated and restricted by the fact that from a dead-end teaching career I transferred to another dead-end position. I knew I am not planning to raise a child, and that my life will soon require a bigger purpose than just keeping myself alive. I didn’t know what that would be at that point, I only knew I need to keep searching and find it.
To prepare for this, I was trying to create enough stability in my new life to support my life-project when it crystallizes. However, any time it looked like I’m close to achieving this foundation, something big broke down and created a disruption. Through these crises I realized there are 6 big areas of life I need to keep in check:
- Finances (work, accounting, bank etc)
- Living conditions (finding and maintaining a place to stay)
- Physical health (exercise, food/cooking, body maintenance)
- Mental health (finding purpose, relaxation, meditation, fun)
- Relationships (family, friends, companion/sexlife)
- Art (nurturing and developing talents, selfexpression, related projects).
There is only so much one can do in a day, and only so many areas of life one can drive forward at a time. Something will always fall behind.
KILL THE EGO
Trying to maintain constant stability across the categories is proving impossible, and it is just killing my Ego – better said: my Ego is abusing my Self. Each of these categories have so many subprojects, so much time needs to be invested that I constantly feel like I’m doing everything wrong. My Ego is only focusing on the ones that are out of shape and feels like it is constantly failing at life.
When I think about it, the biggest issue I am experiencing is that I cannot accept being average. I am not average. So, in the odd moment when things finally seem under control in all these categories, I pick one or two to improve and drive towards excellence. That is when usually an external factor breaks one of the others and disrupts my plans. I start fixing what broke and feel frustrated that my meticulously thought-out plan to achieve something more is falling through due to some stupid technicality or the ideas of other people.
PLANS ARE GOD’S COMEDY SHOW
I was on the edge of my nerves and strength when I decided to get rid of one of the pillars of my life and quit my job as it was blocking my advancement in two of these groups (purpose and art) for such a long time that I felt I am wasting my life. My job regularly broke me to tears and I felt trapped, so I quit and decided to start focusing on my purpose and my art. I had it all planned out to the T, and then life happened and made it physically impossible to execute anything the way I meant to.
I wanted to focus on my art for 1 whole month, exclusively, and then start finding a new job and develop my life-project. But 3 days after I became free, my living conditions turned into a hellish situation. My mental burnout and depression that I wanted to cure with music remained and were emphasized by the panic that I cannot waste time. The ticking clock of money insisted that I focus on what I originally wanted to do after I gained my strength back. I basically just finished running a marathon and instead of taking a rest I found myself in a blizzard, trying to run back to shelter on my last drops of energy. I ended up coming home to my parents to recharge my roots on my original soil.
ACCEPT THE PAIN OF HEALING
It’s been 4 months since I’ve stepped on this new path, and even though I achieved things, I am not where I thought I would be and I am scared. I am scared, tired, disappointed and mildly depressed, but not giving up. I keep accepting that I’m not in control over and over again. I’ve never been in control. I am the outcome of my subconscious (whatever that is, and wherever it is getting its instructions) that creates emotions and actions which are then analyzed by my rational brain to understand the narrative that is being created. And that is fine. What I need to get under control is my Ego, who always judges me by the worst, not the best I’ve done. I am never good enough for me, I will never be perfect at my art, and I will never be completely self-reliant.
You know what? Fine. I will never be the best, but I should accept I’m good enough and when needed, help is given with love. If you neglect your Self for too long, you can be sure to have a breakdown of sorts, and that is fine. It’s a way of self-love, a way to force yourself into healing. You learn, you grow, you develop.
Funnily, the day I came to this realization the following video appeared in my playlist. Thank you, Universe, for giving me this mental hug and saying it will all be okay. I believe it has to be.