On Restlessness

I’m restless. I have been my entire life. On a constant basis, I’m always searching for something bigger, better. Compounding the difficultly of never being fully satisfied, I often struggle to figure out what exactly I’m searching for in my never ending restlessness. Is it a job I’m passionate about? Fame? Happiness? I can never figure it out and it eats away at me. Every. Single. Day.

As a kid we moved around a lot. My mom was a single mother and we often had to jump from place to place by virtue of a new job, lover or just cheaper place. Mom would always make sure that we were comfortable, well fed and happy – all things considered. Looking back in my adulthood, it now seems to me that she was restless in her own right. Never knowing where to dig roots in, or what job to take or even who to settle down with. She is a fiercely independent woman, and despite her constant searching in my youth for whatever it was she needed, she never fully found what she was looking for. Or so my assumption is.

So we moved, a lot. In a way I am grateful – I’m now blessed with a good circle of friends from a great many places, but I mostly just find myself unsettled and feeling like I needed to be on the move. This preverbal feeling still persists in my adulthood – always moving, always changing jobs and prospects. Somehow dreaming and wishing was always more alluring than execution itself. Receiving my freedom at the ripe age of 16 allowed me to escort myself around to wherever I fancied. Still being in high school I couldn’t have gone very far but I relished in a drive through the city, or even along the country side. As soon as I could, I got far far away – as far as possible.

This mentality took me wonderful places. Graduating high school, I immediately moved to the other side of the country in a desperate attempt to get as far away from the suffocation of the small town I grew up in. There I met beautiful people who partied with me, sang with me and taught me how to play the guitar. Despite being in a culturally rich environment, I still struggled with the notion of contentment. Why was I still feeling mostly empty? I flip-flopped through the rest of my first year of university and then promptly dropped out. I went into university with rose-colored glasses on, dreaming of saving the world and falling deep into enriching academia. I quickly decided that I would never become anything with a bachelor of arts. Frustrated and defeated, I threw in the towel and wound back into the place I ran fervently from just 9 months prior.

Square one! I was here so often – for someone who hated starting over I was here far more often than I should be. So I bounced, in-between living at my moms house, and my dads. Back to my moms and then again with my dad. Desperate to free myself from parental control, I made the snap decision to move in with my boyfriend of 3 months in the middle of nowhere. (Northern Canada). He told me that he could get me a job at the local pub, and I could live with him in his – ‘furnished’ – basement suite. I arrive in the dead of winter to the most desolate place I’ve ever been. A town with a population of 700 people, I ended up in the apex of isolation. I trucked on – worked behind the bar for the 5 people that came in on a regular basis. Made microwaved steaks and drank my entire $20 in tips away every night after work. I never saw my boyfriend and frankly, I didn’t care. Eventually, I got restless, as I do. So I left. Not surprisingly, my boyfriend wasn’t at all shocked that I was leaving only 2 months after arriving. I thanked him for putting up with my flakiness and left back to my hometown.

Second snap decision later, I’m living with my spawn of satan ‘best’ friend. Our relationship being years of torridness (Is that a word?) and false promises, why wouldn’t I move in with her? I got a job cleaning houses, which sucked the soul out of me on a daily basis, and continued on my miserable path of no way to get me out of my persistent hole. We rented a shack of a house for $1000 a month. Two bedrooms and what could be just barely passed off as a ‘loft’, we lived there together with our other male friend. When I say shack, I’m not being dramatic, I promise. Exhibit A: in an attempt to set up a dresser in the second bedroom, it promptly fell over due to the extreme slant in our floor. Exhibit B: a party train of ants was constantly walking all over our bathroom floor. Where were they going? They always came from a hole in the wall of the house! In an attempt to make our unhappiness known with the state of the house, we stopped maintaining it (including not mowing the lawn). This was shoved back in our faces by my landlord coming to mow our lawn at 6:30 AM on a saturday! Slowly tensions roused in the house. Jilted lovers and destroyed personal belongings made for a very toxic environment. Time to go, again. Despite having 9 months left on our year lease, we left without warning and I moved back in with my mother in an effort to get as far away from her and her toxicity.

Square one again. The city was too small for the both of us to be in it. Imagining running into her at various points across the city made my stomach turn. So I did the only logical thing there was to do. I moved to another country!

Mexico is where I found myself this time. I responded to an advertisement masquerading around as a legitimate job opportunity, only to be discovered later that I ended up with a timeshare sales job. The company I worked for flew me, and several other recruits, out from a couple major cities in Canada to Cancun, Mexico.  We were offered free housing and food in return for work with a menial promise of commissions on any sales we made. The job turned out to be everything you’d expect it to be. Sleazy, awful and not at all having any morality. I did meet some wonderful people while I was down there. Surprisingly, I met the most genuine, kind hearted people! People that I saw a lot of myself in, running in the hope that they’d eventually run into something. The worst day of my time there happened when I was shadowing a senior employee. We were trying to make a sale to a woman who had just recovered from a bout of malaria and was clearly unwell. If you’ve ever been to a timeshare presentation, you know how it is. High pressure sales tactics are used in the hope that they’ll break you down into committing to a 2 bedroom condo for the rest of your foreseeable future. The man I was shadowing told her that if she didn’t sit through the entire presentation she wasn’t entitled to her gift. Several sales people were brought in to see if they could break her. She ended up storming out, yelling that she has never been treated so poorly. It was such an awful day. I stood outside smoking and crying for the rest of the afternoon. How could I be a part of something that treated people like a pocketbook? That’s the day I knew I had to leave out of principle alone. So I quit, and because I did so amicably, they didn’t offer me a flight home and I was left to my own devices to try and scramble for an air fare.

Square one, for the last time. Feeling lost and sort of empty, I decided to hit the local pub for a little liquid therapy. I called up my ex who I was still friends with to come with me and we headed out on the town. Live music and many beers later I was finally feeling like I could forget about my restlessness for a while in lieu of a good time. Thats when I met my future husband. Full of charm and a smile that lit up the room, I entered into a relationship that I would never regret. He swept me off my feet so fast I didn’t even notice my feet being lift off the ground and into his life. We found ourselves living together very shortly after we met. It was such an organic situation, effortless and easy, I didn’t have the time to over analyze if I was making the right decision or not. Turns out it was the right one.

I ended up with a man who balances me and who understands the most important lesson my restless self  has a hard time learning: be content. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be happy all the time. If you can learn to be okay with what you have and where you are, your life will be so effortless. He knows this, and learned it early.

So I swim on. I still struggle against the current of: “there’s something better out there” and “You’re better than what you’re currently doing”. I’ve come a long way in the time that I’ve been in the same house and relationship for the past two years. (It’s a long time for me!) I’ve learned that neutrality is a much better path than overwhelming, unachievable constant happiness. I’ve learned to work at being content, that for me it doesn’t come naturally. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I need to be patient with myself. I will continue to learn to accept the role of the past in shaping the future.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

I’ll continue to write to liquidate my mind of the ghosts swimming around, fogging my vision of the future. 

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