It turns out I’m the center of the universe. This shouldn’t have actually surprised me, though. It’s something that’s rather obvious when you think about it. There is no actual middle point, which means that the center of the universe is relative and depends entirely on who or what is observing reality.
Wherever I stand I am in the exact middle of everything I can see. If I traveled to the other side of the planet I’d be in the center of the universe. If I traveled to the other side of the universe I’d be the center of the universe. I don’t say this to brag. I don’t say it to wave my hands and yell, “Look at me! I’m important!” This realization has a pretty crazy implication for everyone on this terrestrial ball.
It means that you, too, are the center of the universe.
How are you going to live now that you’ve realized that you’re the exact center point of the universe? Is there anything that you’re going to change? Is there anything that you wish you’d done differently?
I’ve spent my entire life convinced that I was never going to achieve my dreams. I don’t think that there was really anyone who sat me down and said, “You’re never going to amount to anything.” I don’t even think that there was anyone who said, “You’re terrible, you should stop doing that.” In fact, I seem to recall most people were at least mildly encouraging. The truth is that I was simply afraid. I was afraid that I’d try and that I’d fail and that I’d be alone and everyone would laugh at me.
Fear does a funny thing when you let it take control. It reinforces itself. If you say you’re afraid to try fear keeps giving you reasons to keep not trying. Fear makes the world huge and intimidating and shrinks you down to a tiny little creature cowering in the corner.
Fear makes it that much easier to choose the easy path. One way leads to struggle but possible triumph. One way leads to ease and a small life.
At the tail-end of 2009 I found out my job was being moved to Dallas. I had two choices: move to Dallas with it or be unemployed. I really, really didn’t want to move to Dallas but I didn’t see any good alternatives. I was still what would be considered “entry level” and I didn’t know that I had any particularly marketable skills. So I moved to Dallas.
It wasn’t a terrible decision, honestly. The only point I’m making here is that it was the easy decision. I faced that fork in the road and said, “Well, guaranteed employment is nice.” Where everything kind of fell apart was in the decisions that fell out from there.
I was miserable pretty much the entire time I was in Dallas because of factors that were out of my control for the most part. I met some good people down there and had some fun and have often said that if it was just the social life aspect of things that I had to deal with Texas would have been a great time. After just a little over a year I knew the situation was untenable and I wanted to leave.
This had just happened.
What I really wanted to do was take a shot at the Pacific Northwest. What I did was accept the single job offer I got to come back to Chicago. I didn’t even try to do anything different.
This, again, wasn’t a terrible decision. I love Chicago. It’s home. It’s where my family lives. I always figured I’d end up back in Chicago eventually, but I wasn’t sure I was ready. I thought it would be a great adventure to head to the Pacific Northwest or Denver or somewhere like that for a few years and find out if I could truly make it on my own. When it came time to actually decide whether or not I was going to do that I chickened out. I didn’t even look.
The thing I didn’t realize at the time was that a disturbingly large percentage of the crap that was making my life miserable in Texas was going to follow me back to Chicago. Coming back was easy, but it was the source of inescapable misery. I’ve been back for nearly three years and the first time I really regretted the decision was about nine months in. It’s been wearing on me ever since.
I find myself at the crossroads once more. It’s strangely cathartic. Four plus years of frustration and misery are suddenly gone. I suppose I should be worried about the future or mad or sad or something. I’m not. I know something now that I didn’t know the last time I was at the crossroads: I’m the center of the universe.
This isn’t to say I expect to have my next opportunity handed to me on a silver platter. It’s not to say that I expect to have everyone come to me and ask what I want to do next and how they can help me. This realization is about a change in perspective, not a change in attitude. It’s about seeing change as an opportunity to conquer and not cower.
It’s about waking up and, for the first time, asking, “What do I want?” and then asking, “How do I go out and get that?” I didn’t think I was allowed to ask that question before. Not asking that question is the best way to look back at this moment five years on and sigh regretfully over another half-decade of unhappiness.
I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be five years from now. I used to think I knew and that always kind of freaked me out, mostly because I hated where I knew I’d be.
There’s a point in life where you have the option to stop dreaming. I think I exercised that option a year ago. I’d been slowly giving up and slowly shutting down and all of the sudden I could see myself in five years living the same life I was living and I decided it was good enough because it was secure and it was stable and it was good enough. Good enough is the enemy of dreams.
I found myself reading some really old posts the other day. I was trying to figure out when, exactly, I started writing under the penumbra of the Accidental Historian. I never did figure it out (although I think it was somewhere shortly after the beginning of 2007), but I did find some posts I’d forgotten I’d written. I’ll be putting those up here this week. Probably with some additional commentary. It’s about time I start flexing my writing muscles.
I need to get back to telling stories.
I need to get back to dreaming.