An important distinction I draw in my life is the time before and after I was making truly conscious decisions. That doesn’t separate from accountability, but it does draw a uniquely distinct line between the past few years and the rest of the time I’ve been alive.
This distinction helps me when I reflect on how I’ve lived, how I got to this phase of my life, and where I’m consciously trying to go. Key identifiers of the ‘not as conscious’ period (beyond basic childhood / adolescence) is how I spent my time at college, choosing to pursue and start a career in consulting, and transitioning from my first my first job to my current job (a consulting start-up). All of this was done by following the current I happened to be in at the moment, and by doing what I thought was expected of me.
Pretty quickly into my career (a few months) I was questioning what I had done and what my overall life would look like in hindsight decades into the future. The first few years of my profession driven existential exploration overlapped with the beginning of my ‘conscious decision making’. Moving to the start-up was a big indicator of having shifted to that phase, mostly because it was no longer just doing what was expected – plenty of people thought it was a bad idea, and it was a much more stressful process than simply staying at my current job (which was not a bad opportunity). The most valuable aspect of the experience though was sitting down and having to evaluate this decision which could materially and irreversibly alter my future.
Drawing this distinction and offering some details is to help increase clarity on how I define ‘conscious decision making’, and more importantly how integral it has become to my daily life. It’s not deeply insightful, but being aware that you’re creating the reality around you, and that you have to be accountable for as much as possible, is helpful in shaping your view of yourself and life. I’ve definitely always come back to that since realizing its efficacy.
Self-reflection, journaling, thinking deeply about decision making and life planning – it’s all been natural to this second phase and concretely improved my life, but at the same time I’ve also been consumed by more existential dread as I’ve been more focused on these choices and actions. The lows have been lower, and the fear that I’ll be trapped living a life I don’t want has frequently consumed me. So much so, it can have a blinding effect when trying to work on projects and plan for the future.
Ever since focusing on trying to take more control over my life, especially what I do for ‘work’, I’ve felt out of place. Truly even right after starting my career I felt out of place. Things always felt off, I never felt right. I felt like a ghost trapped in mysterious house. Like someone stuck in a current who could only keep their head above water. It’s not like I had it particularly bad, I just wanted more . And even now, I’d say I’m a generally fortunate person – but I want more meaning, agency, and value for myself. For my life. And for the people around me that I care about.
I’m not sure that you or things ever feel right. I think there are rhythms we all find which hit the spot and catch glimpses of knowing they’re happening. And we get to learn from them in hindsight. I know, of course, that things we do can be right. For me writing feels right. My projects and goals feel right. The Moai I’ve chosen and want to be better for feels right.
Maybe this feeling never goes away. I hope it fades as you move closer to whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. But I do know that you can’t wait for things to ‘be’ right or feel right to start, because you might be waiting forever. Sit down, take a breath, make a few conscious decisions, and start moving in the direction you choose. That will feel right.
See you tomorrow.
Inspirations: Moai, Maps by STRFKR, Choice