The Danger of Consistency

July 1, 2014


I’ve been trying to supplement my life outside of work with personal endeavors. In Austin, before I knew of a world outside the US, this was fairly straightforward: acting in community theater, hitting up 6th Street (I was in my 20s, after all), and running on Town Lake. For the most part, these activities did keep me busy, satisfy me personally, and provided good outlets for meeting people.

The world is slightly different, I’ll grant you: although it is a gross generalization, I would say people (Americans, anyway) are more cautious and guarded about new friends and dating. Everyone has to have that online connection before they do anything, and keep their smartphones handy in case of emergency or boredom. But more to the point, I’ve changed significantly.

My needs are greater, my desires harder to fulfill. Where once I might have been content to stay in one place for a year or more, now I find it stifling. Even with a significant other at my side, consistency remains my enemy.

I was recently reminded of this after speaking to a colleague at one of my old jobs. She still works there, as do a few people I knew. As fulfilling as their personal lives have been in the past years since I left – marriage, kids, new interests, new house, etc – the idea that someone could still be working that way scares me. Paralyzes me. That was a job that required me to sit from 8:30-5:30 and stare at a computer screen to edit documents. As much as I enjoyed developing my travel writing skills and exploring tropical islands during my year there, the consistency of the office environment left me wanting.

It’s funny how our needs change with the years. Physically, I feel no different than I did back in Japan, but emotionally, I’m a bit more hallowed out, waiting to be filled with new things to satisfy me.

When you’re young, the glass is little, so it’s easy to fill. As you get older, the glass gets bigger, the same amount of liquid doesn’t fill it anymore. But periodically, the glass has to be refilled.
– Dogma

I’m still running, still going out and meeting people, and writing is a new development I would never have considered back in Austin, but with all my experiences, the same things that would have satisfied me even as recently as a few years ago come up short today. This is true at any age; no twelve-year-old is as happy bouncing a ball as a five-year-old.

In terms of travel, I need more excitement, more danger, and more unknowns. The world shrinks as your understanding of it expands. I can never recreate that feeling of stepping off a plane for the first time into terra incognita. More to the point, after dealing with so much for the first time or the tenth time, even new experiences leave me wanting, e.g. bungee jumping wasn’t as exciting as I could have been had I never skydived.

Being aware of what I now need is the first step. Unless I win the lottery this week, I’ll always be doing some work that doesn’t satisfy me. The key is finding more fulfillment in new interests, ones so innovative or exciting that even my jaded 32-year-old self can’t deny them.

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