On Ditching Perfection in Favor of Change [Dear DBN]

Keep your mouth shut, follow the order, be thankful you’ve even made it thus far.  No waves, no rebellion, no coups to the top.  How very foolish to want flawed and challenging over picture-perfect.  We are so fearful of appearing ungrateful that we often squelch our own want for more, for other, for else.  But when our gazes turn to the stars, to the horizon over and over, we must remember we are creatures of intuition and sometimes the best guide is the unknowable feeling that something must change. When comfortable isn’t good enough, when adequate is anything but, there is only thing we must do: change.

This week, we tackle two questions at once addressing the gut feeling that perfect simply isn’t.

1. I come to you for big-sisterly advice. I’ve lived in the same city for eight great years. I have a decent job here (though I’m looking for a new one to grow), I’m becoming entrenched in a community around a side-gig/passion of mine, I have great friends and roommates–I have it all. But. I keep coming back to the idea that I’ve been here for so long, I need a change, a challenge. Am I an idiot for even considering jobs/lives in other cities when my life here is perfect?

2. I’ve been in a long distance relationship for three years and have not felt fulfilled for the past year. I re-read an astonishing amount of your blog today (you are amazing), and it’s helped me come to what I think is the right conclusion: the boldest move I may have in my arsenal is to set myself free from what is not wonderful. Comfortable is not an adequate substitute. Any advice for making that move when I know it will hurt him so terribly? When he thinks this is wonderful?

Are you a fool for wanting to read new books? See new movies? Taste foreign foods? Backpack Europe for a month?  We never chastise the people who seek out new experiences in relatively small doses.  But to admit you want to throw your life in the spin cycle is considered careless, selfish, and sometimes even stupid. This emotion, this self-doubt you’ve expressed over your own desires is a built in rescue net, strengthened by societal expectations. It’s there because it’s safer to stay, it’s easier to cultivate than to start over.  But listen to how you describe perfect, it’s everything you should want, and yet, you find yourself wanting.  You find yourself wanting chaos and flaws and challenges because that’s what makes life beautiful.  That’s what makes life something to marvel at.  The burned edges, the scars on your knees, the chipped paint, the weeds like flowers, those are the things that make stories robust and life worth living.  You’re not ungrateful – you’re unfulfilled.  So grab your cup and fill it up.

Be prepared to be judged.  Be prepared to be lonely and lost and looking for the same answers you were before.  Know that in the pursuit of your greatest joy, you will let people down. You will disappoint them, leave them in difficult situations, even hurt them, but you must. The longer you keep inadequate to yourself, the longer you hoard it from someone who would drown in its joy. Be swift, be respectful, and be as honest as kindness allows. But also know that a new city and a new job do not fix things, they simply change them. They open new doors and windows and show you parts of the house you never knew existed. And they might unlock problems and leaks you never knew you had. All it comes down to is how much do you want to see what’s in the other room? How much do you want to know if it’s full of mold or gold? How much do you want to know if scrubbing it clean on your knees is worth it? How much do you want to know that the gold isn’t?

The self-excavation of seeing what you are capable of can bring more joy than anything you’ve ever known. People often misattribute massive life changes to the desire to start over – but you are never starting over, because every new experience builds on the last. And rather than cultivate externally, you are cultivating internally. We value the roots in the ground and forget to applaud the seeds still in the wind, a forest yet to come, an empire yet to grow.  Let it carry it you to new goals like running a mile without walking.  Let it rewrite your resume, let it cook food you’ve never tried.  Let it break your heart and your lover’s heart and your mother’s heart because hearts are meant to break and mend stronger than ever. Let it start your novel and finish your designs. Let it send you across the ocean for a week or forever. But most importantly, more importantly than anything else, let it carry you. The winds do not always blow and you will not always just be a seed. So if the wind is blowing, if you find yourself lifted from the ground, then my dear seed, let the wind blow.

CollegeCandy is excited to announce that we’ve partnered up with one of our favorite Tumblrs, DateByNumbers, to bring you some of her very best advice. Each week she’ll tackle your questions. Life, love, sex, the real world…nothing will be off limits. To submit a question of your own, visit her “Ask” page and keep an eye on CollegeCandy every Thursday afternoon!

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