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Embracing the Unknown

For the longest time, I was the kind of person who had to have goals. I required them almost as much as oxygen. Short term, medium term, long term: I needed my life mapped out for me, with goals serving as signposts so I could feel like I was progressing and working towards something, that the things I was doing on a daily basis mattered and had a purpose above and beyond the immediate.

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One of the biggest red flags that ever flapped in my face when married to Serge was the day I asked him about his goals. He had none, he said. I was surprised by the abject horror that was my initial response. No goals? How can that be? How can you live? What’s the point of life without goals? How can I be married to someone with no goals?

He simply could not imagine a fulfilling life led without goals. How can you be happy if you aren’t working toward something and how can you experience feelings of accomplishment if you don’t reach goals? What, you just wait around for things to happen to you?

Then, things that weren’t a part of my carefully mapped out life started happening to me. My husband and I separated and life changed. For a while there, it became all about survival. Goal? Get through the damn day without breaking down in front of people. Goal? Drink three beers, not seven. It’s still like that to a degree, just not as intense. Each day is about making it to the next one.

The thing I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately is how much I actually enjoy living in the here and now, just taking it day by day with absolutely no clue what tomorrow will bring. The truth is, it really appeals to me.

For the first time in my life I’m finding peace in not knowing.

Ironic, no? That I learn to embrace the unknown after separating from the man who never let an unknown future ruin his day. He let plenty of things ruin his day, believe me, but not knowing what the future might bring or not having a plan to remedy that wasn’t one of them. While I constantly stressed about the future, he had a knack for just living in the moment, and now I’m finding that really works for me.

Oh, sure, I still have plans. Kind of. Getting a divorce after a decade of marriage blows most of the plans or goals you had out of the water, and that’s OK now because I’m in no hurry to make new plans. I think it’s key to moving on after divorce, actually — to just take it day by day and let all the rest go.

Another thing I’ve discovered is that while goals are wonderful motivators, they can also cause you to live for the future instead of enjoying the here and now. It will be better when … If I only had this, everything would be OK …

Just let it all go! Live in the moment and see where life takes you. It’s exciting! But that doesn’t mean be irresponsible. I’m still getting up every day and focusing on work and paying the bills and all the unfortunate shit that accompanies being an adult, I’m just not worried about it in the intense you’re-failing-at-life way that I used to be.

No plans or goals for my life, aside from those that specifically involve my kids’ future, means I’m not failing at anything. I’m living up to my expectations each day, just doing what I do and it feels good. Get up, work hard, take care of my kids and go to bed. If I were frantic about my future, worried about spending life alone in the wake of divorce, I’d likely react by behaving erratically, rushing into dating or hooking up with the wrong person just to have someone there. Initially, that impulse was certainly there, but as the months have gone by it’s faded and I’m feeling more content just being me, alone, taking it one day at a time.

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For the first time in my life, I’m finding peace in not knowing. It makes living life a whole lot easier right now. And embracing the unknown is exciting.

Anything is possible.

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