Self Expression, Chances and Consequences

We express ourselves in a variety of ways: art, music, literature, gaming, cosplay, reenactments, physical activity, and personal connections are some examples of what we do. These activities are chosen because we have needs. A need to feel alive, to be heard, to make a difference, to express our emotions, share ideas, etc. These activities express our needs.

To find things that make us feel something becomes harder as the world becomes bigger and expectations become more materialistic. As a kid we are promised the golden life if we simply follow (insert magical path here). Life is not that simple. Choices have consequences. Common ones are college or not college. Go to college for the dream job and spend your life paying an impossible amount of debt that keeps you from your true dream of owning a home or travelling or raising a family. Don’t go to college and struggle for a decent job because you don’t have a piece of paper that says you can work in this non-specialty field.

Follow your passion is another dream we are told to follow; often up until we reach an age of double digits. Then we are told to be practical. What if the practical and the passion don’t match? Do you spend a lifetime reconciling those sides of yourself or spend a lifetime sacrificing one part for another? Who or what do you make happy? Yourself? Your bank account? Your family? Your friends? Each choice has a consequence.

Consequences don’t have to be negative or dire. However, they must be understood. Also, choices are rarely unchangeable. Just because you can change something doesn’t mean you should be careless with the big stuff. Conversely, because there are consequences doesn’t mean you should be afraid of choices and chances.

I suffered in silence for decades. Living the life I was supposed to live. The life everyone told me would make me happy. The life that was the ideal I was supposed to want. I was miserable and sick. I dealt with depression because I felt ungrateful that I didn’t want what “normal” people wanted.

My reality was that I gave up my passion for a when I had time hobby; in exchange for a decent paying job that sucked the life out of me. Literally, I had migraines, got sick constantly, became suicidal and was self destructive.  But my family and friends were proud of me. Everyone thought I was living a dream. Perhaps I was, but it was not my dream.

I tried to go to college to make my parents happy. I hated it. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to run away from home, so I did by doing what they wanted. In the end I burned out, made inexperienced life choices, trusted the wrong people, and ended up with a huge financial burden and no college degree.

I was dating someone who moved in with me. My family hated it because I wasn’t married. We got engaged and the night before my wedding I sat in my apartment throwing up. I knew this wasn’t what I wanted and felt ungrateful because I had someone who wanted to marry me and a decent job and I was miserable. I wanted to pack my bag and take off for the mountains. So, I said I do. Later I learned he had his own doubts and we spent years making each other miserable before I got the courage to leave.

I tried to find myself in shopping malls, silk suits and well-paying corporate jobs. Every credit card bill, fluorescent light and expected social gathering left a part of my mind shrieking in pain and a false smile on my lips. I was embarrassed by social connections and cringed when praised for those connections.
On weekends I drowned myself in whiskey and frivolity. The more uncomfortable I was, the more I drank and shopped. Looking for answers in dulled senses and esoteric items. But my mind drifted to the lake and the woods. The smell of campfire and crunch of dirt and gravel under a tire as you drive into the woods losing cell and radio signal.

One day I snapped. I no longer cared if I was alone or disappointing everyone. I saw happiness and I ran towards it, never looking back. Seven years ago, I emptied my bank account and retired from a 20 year career. I had no plan other than to follow my heart. It was the biggest leap of faith I had ever taken as I was in my 30’s and starting over. I may not have a retirement plan and life is a lot more day-to-day, but I have traded one set of values and ideals for another that is in line with my heart and my head. Not other people’s expectations.

There isn’t much I miss about my old life. This life brings me closer to bliss described in the fairy tales I read growing up.  Being truly content and happy terrifies me half the time. I have a circle of friends that I consider family. Three amazing humans that call me mommy and a best friend to share this craziness with. I may not live on a mountain, but I have trees, space to garden and a creek with an active ecosystem and wildlife. I find myself more comfortable in my own skin than I ever thought possible.

We have options in our lives. We are not trapped by choices of our youth. Life is precious and we need to balance financial needs with emotional needs. Find a path that gives you that balance. Balance isn’t the same for each person. Nor does balance stay the same throughout our life.

Stay true to yourself and those in your care. Find your personal balance. Weave your magic. Magic is what we make.

Magic is what we live and weave each moment of each day.
Irisa MacKenzie
Sassy Viking Mama

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