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When the Nagging Life Questions Bug You on the Road, Part II

Posted by on April 18, 2012
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I think one detrimental side effect of our online personas — whether they be on Facebook, Twitter or blogs like this one here — is that they set you up for failure — failure to achieve a life that can seem completely unattainable. (Understatement of the century, I know.) Everyone seems happy, rich, social, fashionable and accomplished online. You may think that my life is grand because I’m traveling all over the world, have a happy and healthy relationship and am pursuing my dream. Well, you’re right and life is pretty grand. But, not all the time. I’m human and am subject to mood swings, negative thoughts and the same worry-filled self-reflections that anyone, anywhere faces. And so here, my most recent “real” moment. (Apologies if it’s a bit all over the place, but if you created an infographic of Thoughts in Archana’s Head at the Moment, it’d look pretty all over the place, too.)

If you’ve been reading this blog, you also know that I have a problem with dwelling on the negative when life stands still. It’s usually only when I’m on the go that I feel like I’m truly living. (It’s a good and bad thing sprung from my NYC years.) Well, now that we’re living in Honolulu and life is somewhat routine, the nagging Type A-derived demon — who last visited when we were living in Buenos Aires — is back. Yet again, I find myself looking forward — not living in the moment — and focusing on what I don’t have instead of what I do.

I know I mentioned in this post about our six-month travel-versary that I still don’t know what I want to do in life but, as advised by my friends, I should take this time to dabble. Dabble in writing. Dabble in cooking. Dabble in the outdoors. Dabble in dabbling? I think the reason I’ve been fretting as of late is that I’ve come to a realization: I don’t dabble. I usually know what I want and I go for it.

I have more varied goals here while traveling and specifically in Hawaii. I’m supposed to be practicing my Farsi, but I’m lazy. I’m supposed to be doing yoga every day, but I complain that I’m tired from work. I was supposed to already have tried paddle boarding, yet somehow, I haven’t even tried it in the two months we’ve been here. I feel lukewarm about all these things and what I now realize is that I miss being passionate about that One Thing.

Hidden within these mini goals was an effort to unlock some hidden passion, the thing that makes me tick. It used to be the dog-eat-dog magazine world, but now the road is a lot less clear. I hear the way my cousin, Pratt, talks about yoga and I, too, want to find something so monumental and influential in my life. The problem isn’t that I’ve lost that drive to find it; it’s that I haven’t found that “something” that turns the wheels and I’m, in turn, blaming myself for not finding it soon enough.

But I’m fooling myself into thinking that I’m supposed to be seeing some tangible return — in this case a life and career path — after six months of traveling.

And I’m not alone in this emotional roadblock. I was explaining my internal conflict to Eaman a few days ago and as soon as I articulated that it was the goal that was lost, not the drive, he realized that we’re going through the exact same thing. Like I so fervently pursued my magazine job, he, too, went after an investment banking job with equal gusto. Since then, he hasn’t chased anything with such excitement. In the last few weeks, we had both been going through some sort of mental struggle that neither of us could put a finger on, but in that moment, we realized just how similar (more so) we really are.

Either way, it’s put a damper on the last couple of weeks — minus those wonderful birthday-celebrating days — and when I finally vented about it to one of my best friends, Suchit, he explained, so well that we — as well-educated children of immigrants — are hard-wired to achieve, achieve, achieve. It’s hard to step back and let your life unfold organically and, in the process, reveal that light-bulb moment. And even before I left to travel in September, I rattled off a list of goals to accomplish while traveling to my other best friend, Avni, and her response was: “Yeah, or you could also just have a great time.”

I know what you’re probably thinking: Geez, just let loose! Enjoy the moment, and you’ll figure it out later. True, but try telling that to yourself when you’re bummed out. It’s a lot easier to give advice than it is to take it. So for my part, I’m trying to remember all these wise words, but of course, letting it all out on the blog is its own kind of therapy. Thanks for indulging and pardon this reflective interruption.

Happier posts ahead — we have news!

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11 Responses to When the Nagging Life Questions Bug You on the Road, Part II

  1. avni

    WHAT is this news?!

    • Archana

      It’s not what you think/want. I will win our bet, for sure.

      • katerina

        I had the same reaction; glad avni is already on the case as usual

  2. Henning

    Great, honest post, Archana — I know all too well those bummer “so what are you DOING?” thoughts that creep up in the midst of a journey like the one you’re undertaking. As well as the specific MOVE MOVE MOVE mentality that comes from too much city time (Hawaii’s mellow wavelength often proved monumentally hard to hit). The only thing to say is: keep searching. Appreciate little moments each day, especially in a place filled with the most beautiful little moments you can imagine. And KEEP WRITING! I’m living vicariously through your blog.

    • Archana

      Thank you, Henning! So glad you understand how I’m feeling. You’re so right though. After writing this post and reading it to myself, it was kind of like my friend telling me to get over myself. And it worked — as do comments like these! Glad you’re following along :)

  3. Cora

    This post could have been written by me! It’s a comfort to know that there are other people going through the same thing, and trying to answer those daunting life questions. I haven’t found my “thing” yet either. I’m happy I stumbled across your blog- I do believe you interviewed me at Entertainment Weekly a year ago for the internship there. Hope your travels are going well and good luck. :)

    • Archana

      Thanks, Cora! (I definitely remember you!) So good to know I’m not alone on this subject. I’ve let go a bit, trying to let things unfold organically and it certainly has helped .Hope you can do the same for yourself!

      • Cora

        Thanks for the tip- I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for!

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