Fear of missing out and its destructive side effects.
She said to me “I’m a little envious that it wasn’t me you took on that trip.”
We’d had a bit of a falling out before my birthday (we always fell out near my birthday). My oldest sister called me up and expressed an interest in a little road trip. She knew we were having trouble and she had an idea that maybe I would like some time away. Maybe Old Quebec City and pretty much anything else I’d be interested in. It sounded like a great way to forget another failed relationship.
I did some research and decided I liked the idea of walking through Old Quebec City then driving several hundred miles east to Cape Breton Island. Not sure why, but Nova Scotia held some strange fascination for me. It was a lot of driving. But the scenery was great and frankly, the company was fantastic, just what I needed. My oldest sister is one of my very best friends. She’s got that whole “lost the love of my life” vibe that resonates so well with me. And I can talk with her. About anything.
By the time we’d made the trip, I had patched things up with the love interest. But I was still determined to go. And she wasn’t invited. I needed this time away from her. I loved her (hell, I still love her) but there was a strange codependency element to our relationship that caused me no end of discomfort.
On the trip, there wasn’t a whole lot of conversation regarding my plans for the future with this woman. My sisters keep their opinions to themselves (until after the shit hits the fan). But we did talk about future plans in a general sense. Lori (my oldest sister) is just a great companion for road tripping. We camped out, we drank beers, we hiked. And in the evenings we talked. About losing the people we loved. About dating. About growing up Millet. These were some of the best days of my life. And my girlfriend would never be able to understand how much I needed this.
When we got back the relationship settled into a pretty good rhythm. She moved into my place while she closed on her new condo. It was the best month or so we’d had in our entire relationship. But a couple of times she brought up that whole “why won’t you do these things with me?”
The thing is, I did stuff with her. ALL. THE. TIME. Every weekend we were together. For two and a half years. A trip to Cape Cod. She ran races in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, Canada. A marathon for her here, a bicycle race for me there. A winter carnival in Saranac Lake. Lunch and dinner in Burlington, VT with a side trip to Ben and Jerry’s. Just on an off Sunday. Hardly a weekend went by without something big happening. But it was never enough. She was always afraid I might have some fun without her.
Life isn’t full of adventure. Not for mere mortals that have day jobs. Chasing after some kind of idea of a life you see other people seem to live is a recipe for disaster. Financial disaster. Relationship disaster. Stress and dissatisfaction with Real Life. Because Real Life consists of never having enough money, never having enough time and never being able to keep up with everyone else. Because nobody else really lives that kind of life anyway.
See, I know real people. Most of them sit around watching football on Sunday afternoons. They drink beer, eat chips and don’t really do much of anything on the weekends. Because they’re too tired after a week of work. They have too much debt, too many responsibilities and not enough energy to live the kind of life someone else tells them other people are living.
You have to learn to live the life you want. Not the life someone else is selling you. You will never be satisfied with your life if you’re chasing after someone else’s dream.
I’m not entirely sure what my dream life is, but I know it’s not a BMW in the driveway. It’s not a condo in some nameless city. And it’s not spending my life with a woman who feels envious of any time I spend without her.
Thank you for reading.