I heard once that the person you are when you’re 30 is who you will be for the rest of your life. I can’t say whether or not that’s true, and there are no absolutes in life, but I can speak for myself. In retrospect I can see that my 30th year was when I perused writing as a profession and began to come to terms with my true nature. It may not be perfect, and it may seem crazy to some, but there’s a certain kind of comfort in confronting my true self and not only accepting it, but embracing and nurturing it too.
Growing up we’re all subjected to society’s perceived notions of what’s normal; an aspirational vision of what adulthood looks like and how to fit yourself into the big machines that run the world: get married, buy a house, have a few kids, work a steady job, buy a car, get a health plan, set up a retirement fund for yourself, set up a college fund for the kids, take a trip every now and then, take up a hobby, watch sports, go to parties, concerts, and events, drink on New Years and make a resolution, go to a good school and obtain a useful degree, go to the gym and eat healthy, cultivate meaningful relationships with close family and friends. Choose life and thou shalt be happy! This is the only way to live!
Or, maybe not. Human beings are a diverse and numerous species, so what’s good for the proverbial goose is not necessarily good for the gander. While the standard life pattern works for some, there are a great many people who jam themselves into the pattern and end up miserable, or somewhere along the way the tapestry of their lives unravels leading to a crisis at mid-life, or late-life, or resting on their deathbed wondering what could have been if only they took the path less travelled; if they married Jane instead of Jessica, or if they took that job in another city rather than stay where they are. There are many possibilities in life and the choices we make determine which path we follow. But does that path align with our true natures?
I believe that many people go through life not confronting their true nature, but instead try to fit the mold of what should be normal, or they try to escape the feelings and urges their true natures drive them towards. Diversion comes in many forms; drugs and alcohol, pharmaceuticals, self delusion. Your true nature can be found through a little soul searching and self reflection. The world would be a much happier and more stable place if more of us met our true natures and accepted them, rather than fight them by trying to fit into the norms that society imposes on us.
Everyone has two faces: the one they show the world, and the one they hold inside. It is our inner, truest selves that we need to confront if we hope to reach true happiness and self-actualization.
I suspected for a long time that I’m not cut out for the regular 9-5 working world, but until I reached my 30s I always tried to do so becuase it seemed there was no other way. In 2010 I was working a co-op placement at Environment Canada for the chemical engineering technology program I was finishing at Seneca College. It was basically a full time job, and in a government agency, so it looked like I was well on my way to a stable career working in laboratories, running tests, taking samples, and logging results. All things considered I should have been happy, only I wasn’t. I had terrible insomnia for those eight months, gettings as little as two hours of sleep each night, only getting a full night’s sleep on the weekend, and feeling absolutely terrible all the time. I remember one night I couldn’t sleep at all. Why was I having such difficulty? I was miserable. Something was wrong and I didn’t know what, but now I know.
My pursuit of that career field did not align with my true nature. When I finished that program and turned my sights towards my lifelong love of writing and literature everything changed. I was confident and proud. I found satisfaction in my work and everything was possible. I was entering a fascinating and exciting world of creativity and exploration. The world was at my feet, and I slept like a baby every night. I had finally confronted my true nature and embraced it. No more fighting and trying to become something else just to fit into an imposed notion of what adulthood should be. I accepted the fact that I’m not cut out to have a conventional lifestyle and settled into a way of life that aligns with who I am and what I want most out of life.
It’s comforting and refreshing to sort this out. I have enduring psychological stability because there is no internal struggle. I’ve come of age and know myself. It might be unconventional, but for me it works. I was always meant to be a writer, a traveller, and a teacher. I was a fool to think I could ever be anything else.