I’ve been in the mood to watch “Forces of Nature” for a while. I really didn’t know why this Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck flick had been on my mind. I hadn’t seen it since high school. I didn’t even remember that much about it. All I knew was that I kept finding myself compulsively checking Netflix to see if it had been added. Tuesday, I stumbled across it at the mall with Sergei (okay, there you go. That’s the new guy in my life, more on him later). It was marked down to $4. How could I resist? Taking a break from working Wednesday, I watched it. I understood why I’d been drawn to it.
On the surface, this film is completely irrelevant to my life. I’m not getting married anytime soon. Not wrestling with attraction to some wildly interesting stranger amidst a string of natural disasters (though I’ve definitely been thinking about my friends living with the aftermath of Sandy). But it is about struggling with the fear of getting stuck. It’s about that realization that you have to commit to the people in your life. It’s about embracing the life you’re choosing, whether that life is glamorous or not, even though it scares you a little and comes with no guarantees. This is where I find myself.
I’ve been pretty discouraged lately. Like Ben Affleck’s character throughout the majority of the film, I’ve been scared and second guessing myself a lot. And wrestling with the un-sexiness of my life.
Not too long ago I wrote an entry, I didn’t like enough to post, about how I’ve been struggle to appreciate the work that I’m doing. The truth is that I feel like I’m just biding time till I’m ready (and am more financially secure) to continue on for my PhD in Philosophy. My demo-ing and freelance copywriting, though they can be worthwhile, feel like filler jobs for me. Ways to pay my bills and keep me busy through this down time. I don’t think of them as my career. Some days I just feel like I’m completely wasting my time and my life. When work is slow and I’m scrapping to get by, I start panicking that this season is going to turn into my whole life.
Plus, it bugs me that I’m still living with my parents. And I hate how much work it is to have a social life since all my friends are still at least 30 minutes away. There are times when I feel like my life is totally boring and bleak.
Last week for me was much like Ben’s trip down to Savannah in the film, everything seemed to be going wrong. A big client dropped out. Another potential client fell through. My computer decided to stop charging (aka stop working). Then that party I thought would be fun and give me a chance to make new friends (which I went to completely tired because I hadn’t slept well all week since I was so stressed) was entirely disappointing. As a result of that dumb choice of mine, the dog I was watching chewed on my glasses while I slept off my stupidity.
I called my best friend Nichelle on the way home from work last Sunday absolutely in need of a good pep talk. All I wanted to do was cry and sleep. But I was too dehydrated for the former and still too stressed for the latter. When I pulled up in front of my apartment, I stayed in my car for an extra half an hour to keep talking. For me, our conversation was a little like that moment when Ben sees his fiancé at the end of the movie and finds the courage to move forward.
What our conversation made me realize, more than anything else, is that I have to stop second guessing the life that I’m living right now. I might be struggling, my job descriptions might not be sexy, and my social life might not be as hopping as I wish it was, but I do have a good life here. My copywriting can be rewarding and gives me an enjoyably flexible schedule. My demo job gives me lots of good stories, allows me to have some great conversations with different people and is responsible for introducing me to my boyfriend. My friends here might be further away than I wish they were but if I was in grad school they’d be even further. Right now, these are exactly the people I want in my life. If I want to be happy, I have to commit to this life I’ve chosen. I have to work to make it what I want it to be (like reaching out to my friends here more frequently and getting up the courage to send my actual writing to magazines and journals so I can move out of copywriting one of these days).
In the film, Ben wraps up his story by paraphrasing a quote from Bishop Jeremy Taylor: “Marriage has less beauty but more safety than the single life. It’s full of sorrows and full of joys. It lies under more burdens but it is supported by all the strength of love and those burdens are delightful.”
I am not married, but I feel like this is true of my life, of many people’s lives. Though our days may be more mundane than we wish they were, our lives are more meaningful because of the relationships we cultivate that sustain us through our struggles and triumphs, through our best days and our boring-est days. The result is a life that is maybe less glamorous than the one we imagined for ourselves but more valuable.