Living Vicariously Kills Intention


I've recently come out of a season of life that was full of constant change, but after nearly a year of shifting, everything has come to a halt. There's nothing crazy or new on the horizon, and my day to day has become about adjusting to the "new normal", or in my case, figuring out what that looks like. Unbeknownst to me, I had become somewhat addicted to the inconsistencies. By coming to terms with the fact that everything was changing, I had given myself an out of any situation or truth that I didn't like. If something didn't work for me, I felt confident that it would change soon because that seemed logical at the time. The problem is that, when the dust settles, not everything settles the way you imagine.

The biggest struggle that I have found while living in a season of stillness is finding the strength to live with intention. I'm not going to lie, waking up at 5:00 am most days and spending long hours staring at my computer and paying bills and buying groceries and working out doesn't always make me feel carefree and thankful to greet the day. Sometimes the "purpose" that I determine for the day is just making it through, rather than excelling. Are there good moments in every day? Absolutely. But does every day feel good? That's stretching it. A lot of days, I feel restless and uncomfortable in my own skin, like I'm trying to figure out what my next big leap is, even though I know I'm supposed to stay still for a while.

In turn, the biggest temptation has become living vicariously. I find it difficult not to browse through old pictures of times in my life when I was surrounded by a community that knew me completely. I find myself aching for a redo of a season that I was so ready to be done with while it was going on. I watch other people live through highlights with an acute fear of missing out and wish that I could have a few of my own, and then I realize how utterly ridiculous all of those feelings are. I got everything I wanted, I am living my dream, but I'm having trouble sitting still.

The funny thing is, I know that there is no where else that I'd rather be or something else that I'd rather be doing. The problem comes down to a single truth: I don't know how to live with intention when my purpose is not completely wrapped up in achieving a goal. So, I reminisce on my old goals that I've already met, or I watch other people press on towards something monumental. Chalk it up to being a post-grad, a millennial, a twenty-something, but I don't buy it. Our world is so focused on getting somewhere that we've never been prepared for how to live life after we arrive. And even though I'm working as hard as I can, I feel that I'm not doing anything because I no longer have a detailed road map.

The danger in living vicariously is that you become incapable of recognizing moments in the here and now. You can't invest in the present when your mind is living in the past or jealous of someone else's future. If there's one thing I know to be true, it is that every good thing in this life takes time and effort, and some of that time requires sitting still and figuring out the new normal. In regards to relationships, Andy Stanley said, "The foundation for staying in love is to make love a verb," but I think that quote applies to life, too. To stay engaged, focused, and passionate, regardless of circumstances, requires the decision to love the life you live in every season.

Photo via Jen & Chris Creed, Photographers