Sex begets Babies, Discipline begets Discipline

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Alright, alright, so discipline is not a very sexy topic, so I snuck sex into the title like a devious little writer searching for an easy hook. Sue me. In the next paragraph you’ll realize you won’t get nuthin’.

Allow me to brief you on the latest.  Since my last post 10 months ago, I’ve been hustling like a hustler.  I decided in October that $71,000ish dollars of debt was unacceptable foolishness and it was time to get my shit together.  I’ll have you know that next month I will have knocked out all of my consumer debt totaling $22,000, and will only have those tyrants that are students loans to go (yes I can hear you cheering Dave Ramsey).

But a weird thing happened when I decided to quit spending like a moron.  I started to shape up in other places.  Shortly after I began my yes-I’m-carrying-a-flask-to-the-bar-because-I-won’t-buy-the-house-wine journey, my already decent work ethic kicked up a notch and my boss noticed. Got a raise.

I woke up a couple months later and decided…you know what?  I’m going to run a marathon.  After all I used to be a sprinter, maybe this time I just won’t stop at 100m. And now 2 half marathons and a 15k later, I am just about ready to run that full marathon on June 2nd (insert internal alarm bells, “why am I DOING THIS?!”).

I started to become a better girlfriend.  I call my mother more. I even bother to walk my dog once in a while.  Ok, ok, so far I’ve just been marching to my own parade here, but what I’m saying is that WOW.  This. Feels. Good.

But on Monday I got thrown off my giant Joni-shaped parade float.  Every morning we have a company meeting called a “standing 10,” where we talk about the happenings in the company. It’s kind of like a grown up show-and-tell regarding both business and personal endeavors. So our ever-so-trendy graphic designer decided to pipe up to share a personal win.

Meekly yet excitedly she offered, “Welllll, this weekend we finally shot my video! It’s been a long road but it was awesome. Our videographer came down from LA, had a makeup artist, lights production, it was really full on…I’m excited about it.”

Everyone cheered happily and rejoiced at her accomplishment.  “That is so awesome!” piped our data entry girl.

“We have our own in-house celebrity!” shouted my boss.

And me? What did I do?  I smiled and followed along as a good actress would, but I couldn’t shake it.  Those green bony fingers wrapped around my heart, holding back true happiness for her and instead turned me inward to focus on myself and my own short-comings.  The jealousy that enveloped that moment was shocking and disconcerting, violently shoving me into the reality that I live in.

What is wrong with me?? I’m not a singer. I don’t want to shoot music videos. OK fine, if all the Beatles came back and decided to shoot a flashy reunion video and implored me to be their muse, I suppose I wouldn’t decline.

But why couldn’t I be happy for her?  Wasn’t I trying hard enough? After all, I’m in control! I have my life in order, I’ve survived my 20’s without going to jail, I’m a success!

It’s not enough.  I’ve come to realize, it’s just not enough.  Paying the bills is just being an adult. Exercising is just being sensible. Having a steady day job is how I am participating in society, and yes, reaching the dream of buying a house. But I’m just not devoting the time to the things I truly LOVE.

Were you ever asked by a high school or college career counselor, “What would you do if you weren’t paid anything for it?”

For me, the answer is to write. I just fucking love to write.  It’s the thing I love to do when no one is watching.  I remember in grad school a professor told us that the worst part of putting together a research paper was the writing, and I was genuinely offended.  Could she possibly mean that people really enjoy the researching part?

The truth is, I never enjoyed the research, but I love the art of the written word.  It is what makes me a true artist.  And that is why I didn’t go on for my PhD. That is why I was overcome with jealousy the other day – because she was pursuing her artistic expression and her dreams were coming true. All the while mine sat quietly in the catacombs of my mind.

“Well no more!!” I say.  I saw a meme posted on Facebook, I dunno, 4 months ago that said something like, “I have friends that spend their weekends partying and living it up. And I think to myself…what exactly is it that you are celebrating?”

See the truth is, after college, you feel as though you have arrived. The time to relax has come.  We do what we want, spend what we want, get married, have babies, whatever it is that you want.  But what tends to take the back seat to all of those things are our dreams. Those desires and talents that sit silently waiting for you to return and spend time with them.

And achieving those dreams sometimes take discipline.

Maybe you played guitar, or the flute.  Maybe you painted, or thought about learning how.  Maybe those Instagram photos you shoot so “likeably” reveal that you really should just get that SLR and do it.

What I am saying is that the time is now to spend time with our dreams.  There is plenty of time to work the day job. Exercise. Budget. Fall in love.  But I hope that those reading this don’t fall into the same trap that I do again and again in my life.  I abandon my best friend who has always been there for me.  My writing.

Therefore I ask – what is your dream?  And if you’re not actively pursuing it…why not?

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About jonierdmann
Ask thoughtful questions. Challenge tradition. Refuse to accept things are the way they are.

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