Not Forever 21

May 14, 2015 by

          The little blank square that is May 13 stands out amongst classes, friends, and places noted in my calendar. Last night was the first night this month that I didn’t have anything planned. I kept it empty because I figured I’d need to recharge. I thought I’d take the night to write, but first, I needed a nap. My upper body was shot. I had a climbing clinic the night before, a.k.a. I pulled myself up a pole for an hour, plus it was arms and abs day at the gym yesterday. Understandably, my nap turned into an all-night siesta. I didn’t wake up until well past midnight. Once I was able to stretch my heavy muscles out of bed, I felt amazing. I didn’t even realize how burnt out I was until I was reminded what wide-awake feels like when I woke up in the middle of the night. Okay, maybe “wide-awake” is a stretch, since I still couldn’t fathom forming sentences; but I felt recharged enough to do some backend work on my blog while bobbing my head to 2 Heads by Coleman Hell until gym time rolled around.

          On my way to the gym, I thought about the conversation I had with my Financial Chick yesterday at lunch. As we were filling out my life insurance application (because I’m switching insurers) and setting up preauthorized payments to the new investment account that I transferred my retirement savings to back in February (not that I haven’t been setting aside money for retirement since starting work; it’s just that it’s about to be automatic again), I asked her opinion on my other financial goals. I already had a good idea of how I want to prioritize; but to my own surprise, travel wasn’t high on my list. Because that’s unusual for me, I wanted her opinion as both my Financial Chick and my friend on potentially forgoing travel this year in favour of putting more money toward another savings goal.

          I knew my stance before I asked her to weigh in. I’ve been thinking about how I haven’t even been thinking about travel. Now that everyone is booking summer trips and I’m still in I-just-got-back-from-Paris mode (because there’s no way that November was half a year ago), I’m realizing that travel isn’t that important to my happiness right now. Given that I went from travel being my top priority to the least of my concerns in a matter of weeks abroad, my perspective on this could just as easily revert back; but as it currently stands, in all honesty, if I hopped on a plane, I wouldn’t be doing it for me. I would be doing it for the 21-year-old version of me that made a promise to herself to travel at least once per year from then on and other past versions of me that consistently over-delivered on that promise. (Yes, I went to Mexico for a weekend in February, so I technically already came through this year, but I clearly have an unwritten expectation of myself to aim for more than one trip per year based on my travel history from 2011 to 2014.)

          “You know when your past self made a promise?” I began to relay my internal struggle to my Financial Chick.

          “Sweetie, just because you made a promise to yourself a few years ago does not mean you have to live by it now. When you made that promise, you didn’t have the life experience that you have now,” she said.

          I nodded in agreement and explained (more to myself than to her), “Before, travel was a contributing factor to my happiness. Now, I just don’t think I need to get on a plane to be happy. There are other things I want to focus on.”

          “Your priorities changed,” she summarized simply.

          The ease with which she made that statement made me feel relaxed. Right, I thought, recalling a post I wrote while still in Paris titled Priorities Change, which ended with Happiness Tip #154: It’s okay to go home. It was okay to go home because that’s what I wanted, and The Happiness Experiment is routed in prioritizing what I actually want, not what I feel I should want. By the same logic, it’s okay to stay home. It’s more than okay. I’m happy here.

          While reflecting on all this as I parked my car outside of the mall that houses my gym, as if on cue, Cage the Elephant’s Cigarette Daydreams came on the radio. I first heard Cigarette Daydreams in early November, the week I returned home from Paris, and I played it over and over. It helped calm me down while I was at the height of confusion about what I wanted, because it reminded me to stop looking for the answers. I reclined my seat in my car, closed my eyes, and listened to it in its entirety before walking into the gym. I needed that song this morning.

 
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