Mercenary

Truth - Life is an adventure of epic proportions. Think about it. You start in this world with preset attributes, and environment. Your task is to learn as much as you can, figure out why you're here, and do something memorable while you're at it. Maybe you're meant to be the next president of the United States, teach a class of high school students journalism, or run a non-profit benefiting homeless LGBT youth. That mystery is part of the journey. How do you when you have arrived? Are you even taking the right path? Who will you meet along the way? Who are you? All I know for sure is that me, and everyone else, we're all mercenaries.

"Not everyone will understand your journey. That's fine. It's not their journey to make sense of. It's yours" Zero Dean
Ottoman world map from the Cedid Atlas, the first atlas printed in the Muslim world, published in 1803. This, only the 15th extant copy of the atlas, was discovered by a librarian in Norway and posted on reddit.
What is the meaning of life? It's the biggest question anyone can ask besides the existence of God. Everyone has tried to answer it at some point in time. Don't we try and answer it every single day just by the things we do. I think there are oftentimes when we veer dangerously close to figuring out the answer, at least for us specifically. You see, I believe everyone understands and experiences life differently. Respecting that difference is of the utmost importance. How can there multiple truths? It's a shift from a dualistic to a multiplicistic view of the world. Our truths can and should be different. Our lives cannot be the same. Our journeys inherently dissimilar just by the nature of who we are. I don't know if I believe in fate but I do think there is purpose in how or why things happen. Maybe we make our own destiny or we are just going through the motions of a larger plan put into place before we even arrived on the scene. No matter what, we have a responsibility to most of all ourselves but our worlds in general to make meaning of the mundane and contribute to its betterment as much as possible. 

This year has been unlike any other for so many reason the first being meta - things never happen the same way twice. On a more grounded level, it was sincerely the emancipation proclamation of post-college me. I felt like I did so many things - what makes it more significant is that I did it by myself. In the larger picture, I know all my success is linked to so many other factors, supporters, and circumstances but on a certain level I get to be proud of what I've been able to do and how well it has gone. If you had asked me a year ago if I would be doing this well or if I could see myself pretty much striking out on my own into the great big world, I would have laughed. I couldn't imagine myself doing my own thing without the comfort and safety of those I had grown to know and count on. In reality, I had always been a highly self-sufficient person but this year that was out to the test. It was more than adjustment. It was a shift in how I understand myself. Instead of defining myself in relation to others as in son, brother, uncle, friend, etc. I was more often just me. In the declaration there was a great deal of apprehension supplemented by a heavy dose of empowerment. I knew I could do it. Why? Because what other option was there? Failure, defeat, or giving up? None of those were conducive to my progression nor my views of myself. I adapted to my surroundings, sometimes more shaky than calm but I am a mercenary now. 

Romanticizing working was quite possibly one of the biggest mistakes I made with my overactive imagination. Particularly my second semester where I traded a class for an internship and was essentially working 30 or so hours a week in addition to my full schedule of classes, volunteering, and being a person. I was absolutely exhausted daily. I did not think it would impact me so much but there would be days where I came home, and passed out. I'm not really a big nap person but sometimes your body dictates otherwise. Finding time to eat, grocery shop, and make sure everything was clean was a serious struggle. Now I understand why so many people end up eating out so much or living in less than spotless spaces. I made it all a priority. If that meant going to Target at 9PM, then I did it. If that was putting the headphones in and cleaning my apartment at 1AM, then it happened. I know I'll eventually get used to working more robustly but for now, I am just glad to have made it through while still doing great work. 

Figuring out what I want out of life and my relationships became a recurring theme for me. There were points where I would question remaining in my chosen career field, and it always brought me back to this new normal where I remembered people now often had multiple careers in different professions. If that was my story, then I would have to be okay with it. The moments of fulfillment seemed be to more sparsely sprinkles but when I did get them, they were glorious. I have to get past holding on to those fleeting moments because of how rare they are. I have to get fulfillment from knowing I'm doing purposeful and needed work. There were times though where there really wasn't gravitas to my contributions. People would be okay with or without me. That notion had me thinking if I just enjoy being needed or others depending on me. That is fraught with problematic repercussions. I think that is okay to take pleasure in knowing you're doing spectacular work and also valuing those times where others recognize the same. I know my challenge will be finding intentionality in all I do no matter how seemingly trivial. That instant gratification as a side effect of this "now" and "only the best" culture is taking it's toll. Compound that with my obsession with chasing perfection, going above and beyond, and sacrificing self-care and you have the making for some serious burnout. A jack of all trades is a master of none. I know that I don't need to be good at everything and yet I don't. I have to ask myself when is enough - enough? If I keep giving my entire self to others then there won't be any of me left. Being a mercenary may mean knowing my niche and sticking to it. 

Focusing on my relationships has to become a priority for me. I have to make time to be in community with others. It's great that I have become more in touch with myself. I love me now more than ever and that is a lifelong love to be maintained but it's time to extend our that further again. I want my people to remain my people. How can I integrate another person into my life, keep the order I've established, and my other relationships? Can mercenaries love and be loved? We'll just have to wait and see. X

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