Overlong reflection upon the past is one sure way to make yourself unhappy so I try to avoid it. Nevertheless it becomes unavoidable at this time of year, especially if, like me, you are somewhat prone to reflection.
At this time last year I was, as detailed in the most recent report of my South American adventure, in La Paz, Bolivia. I think I felt as lost then as I do now, though back then I had the novelty of new places and good friends to steer me through. This year I find myself stuck in an expensive flat that I can hardly afford to heat in a city where I hardly know anyone: it seems ridiculous that I had more people around me in La Paz than I do here but there you go.
Reflecting on all this made me think about this feeling of being lost - I certainly wasn’t sure of my place going into 2014, or 2013, or for many of the years before that. And I realised that you do feel lost if you do not (or are not able to) live your life with complete conviction at any moment.
This was the problem that I had before I went away. On the trip I was able to say “I’m travelling now, this is what I do”. I didn’t have to feel like I was good at it in order to be happy doing it (most of the time I did not have a clue), but at least - over all that unknown terrain ironically enough - I knew what I was doing, that there was an itinerary, a course. I was less sure of what might come after the tour, but Bolivia was barely the end of the beginning so I didn’t have to worry too much.
And going in to 2015? I feel like a lack of conviction has returned to my life. My current path is one of necessity rather than invention and I feel very uncertain about it. Every wobble of the household and every sigh of boredom feels like a return to square one. I can’t mourn a life I didn’t want nor regret my rejection of the same, but I can wonder whether this is the best alternative.
It comes back to conviction. A driver of happiness is the belief that you have a mastery and purpose, that you are indeed doing the very thing that you, and few people else, were meant to do. I think I lack that conviction: I cannot convince others because I am not convinced myself. I’m nearly thirty five and I still have no idea what I am supposed to be doing, or even what I want to do.
Of course, one is not supposed to be doing any given thing - or else we would all be conscripted to our callings, and, funnily enough, I suppose I would not have these uncertain feelings. I just have much conviction in what I am currently doing, and have no idea what I could be doing that would make me feel any different.
Hence I am lost. My mission for the year ahead: go find the place where I can rest, convinced in myself - and therefore convincing to others - that I really should be there.