This part of my journey goes back about 2-3 years. To make a long story short: I had a good and lucrative career in IT sales; I was living with my girlfriend in a nice apartment in a nice city; I could afford to travel and eat out at fancy restaurants – life was good, or so it seemed. Indeed from the outside it looked like I was on the right track and had or was working towards all the things that people think “make a good life”. I’ve had multiple people tell me they were jealous of what I had and wished they could have my life or make the money that I made, but the problem was that none of those people actually paid attention to how I felt on the inside.
Nobody asked me if I was actually happy.
The reality was that I was suffering. I was deteriorating mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The source of my suffering was the fact that I was not happy with what I was doing with my life, not developing myself in the way that I wanted, and my job got to the point where I was doing it only for the money instead of working on something that I was actually excited about. I kept thinking, “Why do I feel like this, what’s wrong?” And I thought multiple times that I needed to do something about it, but at the end of the day I’d just put my head down and keep going as I was, convincing myself that “I need to make money”. Ironically I would then gamble more than half of that money away in a quest for excitement, and spend much of the rest on things I didn’t really need. I also stopped exercising and started drinking and eating poorly to take my mind off the fact that I was dreading getting back to work. And even when I went on vacation to cool places like Turkey or Greece, I wouldn’t even enjoy it that much as it would just mostly serve in restoring me from a “completely miserable” to a “somewhat ok” state.
Unfortunately I feel like this is the reality for many people (although the form it takes may differ), and what’s worse is that more often than not they don’t even address it. Not ever. We as a society seem to overemphasize the superficial and never actually look at the core of the matter. When we meet someone new they usually ask what our job is, whether we are married or have kids, where we live, etc. Very few people ask us whether we are actually happy and if not, are we trying to figure out what makes us happy and working towards that? It’s like we’re all subconsciously conditioning each other to “just do what needs to be done” and “be normal,” whatever that means – as if life is some sort of to-do list to be checked off, and if you complete it – you win!
Getting back to my story, about 9-10 months ago I finally decided that it was enough. I couldn’t keep going the way I was. So I decided to quit my job and go back to live with my parents to work on something new for myself. This was a big blow to my ego, as I’ve always valued my independence and haven’t lived with my parents since I was 18, but I made a conscious decision to sacrifice the level of comfort I had when living on my own for the sake of building something new for myself. Since then I’ve been live streaming on Twitch.tv and making youtube videos, working towards making live streaming and content creation my new, full time career. While I don’t yet make enough money from it to support myself, I feel much better psychologically, and as a byproduct I’ve gotten back into exercising and eating healthy as well. If there’s one thing I regret it’s not doing this sooner.
Some people may think or say that doing this at 32 years old is a bit late, but I am convinced that I am finally on the right track. I don’t claim to have it all figured out yet or that this is necessarily the right approach for everyone. But I know that what I’m working on now is 100% mine and will pay huge dividends in the future, whether they be material, psychological, or spiritual.
I think that the reality of life is more complex than just a simple checklist we can follow. There is no formula to finding what makes us happy or living with purpose – it’s up to each of us to discover individually. And while trying to figure things out, it’s ok to fail, take breaks, and do a complete 180 from what we were doing before and what others may have come to expect from us. We are all at different points in our individual journeys, and if we see someone struggling on theirs, the best thing to do is to encourage them to get down to the root of their issues and figure out what they need to do to be authentically happy — or maybe not even “happy” but authentically fulfilled.
Digging Deep is honored to work with guest bloggers who contribute their experience and expertise. This post is written by Alexander Petrenko. You can find Alex streaming at Twitch.tv or watch his videos on his YouTube channel.
Digging Deep accepts guest posts on many topics from a wide range of experts, patients, health care practitioners, and others who work with sick children and teens. We welcome your perspectives and stories to share regarding ways to support the emotional needs of children with health challenges and the families and professionals who support them. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be a guest blogger.