There is an ever-present push coming from somewhere unseen, an insidious force if you will. It is made by what we are taught to be true or what we’ve naturally developed through our experiences, that desires to take our present moment from us. A constant push into the future. A constant reminder of the past. Not for constructive means, but rather filled with narratives of not being good enough or thoughts of how you should be better by now. When do we get to be fulfilled? During this time of year as activities and conversations shift toward the spooky and mysterious, I just wanted to share some thoughts on what I fear- being unfulfilled.
If we all haven’t been there yet in our lives, I feel safe in stating that there will be a time in which you will accomplish a goal and your response will be, “Is that it? I thought it would be different. I thought I would feel different.” The romanticized version of what the experience would be like is where the focus is and as a result, the actual experience isn’t appreciated for what it is. Fulfillment is taught as a rule or a guarantee rather than something that is fought for but might never be obtained, thus making the journey to be seen as uneventful or a waste. This response all stems from that overall lack of being in the present moment and not seeing the value in it.
Rules (as dissatisfying and rigid as they are) are the things immediately sought out when you reach any pinnacle. “What should it be like?” “What could it have been like?” “What would it have been like if…?” Empty. What about accepting it for what it is? I wonder what we could make of our situation if we embraced it for its total state of being in that present moment. I wonder if it would offer us some sense of fulfillment if we would just accept it as it is because it is accurate, and when we do that, we then can deem its worth and value to us in a more fulfilling manner.
Fulfillment, if we are not careful, can also be confined to our emotional experiences. “If it doesn’t feel good like I thought it would, then it must not be for me.” “Forget the journey.” “Forget what I’ve learned.” “Forget any personal growth I’ve made or character-forming insights I’ve come by.” “I don’t feel like I want to so it must not be worth anything.” “What a waste of time that was.” “This doesn’t make me happy, so I guess I’ll throw it out.” “I was told it would be like this, but it was like that, so that’s a bust - I’m moving on.” Again, such an empty way to experience life and view the journey being made.
Fulfillment is greater than our private psychological experiences. Our actual lives are always coexisting alongside our perception and thoughts of what “should be”. As we process the world and our experiences, it is difficult not to get stuck dwelling on expected outcomes or having conflicting ideas of what an experience should be. This existence of conflict is natural and guaranteed for all of us in some form or fashion. So whether or not we are fulfilled in our lives remains a personal choice, sometimes warranting a shift in our perspective.
I fear a life less than due to not embracing the fundamental realities of my existence. I will experience pain. I will experience sadness. I will experience hardship. I will experience adversity. I will experience loss. I fear a life unfulfilled if the only thing acceptable to me is having every star lined up as it “should be”. Great lessons come in pain. Great fortune comes from nothing. Wisdom comes from foolishness. We must embrace, that in order to live fulfilled, we cannot expel all bad but we can alter our view.
Perspective on what it means to be fulfilled can change everything if we allow it to. Fulfillment is so much more than just a feeling; it is a state of being. We can live a fulfilled life. Suppose fulfillment is only about how we feel or what is happening in our minds. In that case, the number of negative variables that can be thrown into that equation is just too numerous. Rather if we embrace ourselves and our experiences as they come, we will be more inclined to show some self-compassion. We’ll be more loving and accepting of our relationships. We’ll be prouder of the roles that we pursue in our lives. Fulfillment will come from the acceptance that our experiences are unique and hold value just as they are.
The beautiful thing about life is that though I have the option to fear being unfulfilled, I can also embrace the opportunity to be fulfilled with my own life experience. So, choose fulfillment with me today, and let us leave fear in the shadows.