2013: a year about more than happiness

“Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live.” ~Jonathan Edwards, age 19

I ran across this quote passed along by The Rebelution at the start of the year and have taken it on as my mantra for 2013. I tend to do poorly with specific New Year’s resolutions, but I think striving towards the meaning of this quote will be more successful. That’s because it takes captive my every moment–spare and planned. Every time I am deciding who to eat lunch with, I can think of that phrase. Every time I have checked off all my to-do lists and find myself with little to do, I can think of that phrase. Every time I have to write a paper, shop for groceries, decide what to do with my summers–whatever it is, that phrase can guide my actions. It’s a future-thinking mantra that has me always thinking about the person I want to be in the future. That way I am motivated to take the baby steps today.

Anxiety was a big struggle for me last semester and hit a peak when I got back to school this January. It began to effect not only my sleep but also all the other aspects of my life like friendships. I was wearing down, feeling lost in the endless cycle of anxiety feeding into lack of sleep feeding into anxiety, etc. In order to be able to cope with daily responsibilities and the things I wish to do, I have had to learn to let go of some things–to realize that I can’t answer all my questions, that I can’t meet everyone’s expectations, that there will always be an opposing voice, and that sometimes it’s okay to mess up, to be alone, to be introverted, and to not know the answers. 

I have been recognized the potential thieves of my 2013 goals, and their names are Comparison, People-pleasing, Stress, Distraction, and even Laziness. I have to admit that I’m human which means I strive to be my best while also realizing that I will fall short. It also means that I am driven to find out my humanness–what makes me tick, what I believe, and how I relate to others–yet I must be resigned to the fact that I can’t possibly find or know all the answers so I must not let uncertainty drown me. 

I am being reminded daily of my first blog post–to realize that my youth is fleeting even more than my life. I am realizing that, though I sometimes convince and prepare myself for a predictable, stable, and successful life, that what I really long for is a spontaneous, healthy, and faith-filled life. I know it sounds cliche to say I want adventure, and I would agree, because adventure doesn’t really describe what I’m talking about. When I think about how I want to see the Andes and the Alps, I don’t for a moment believe that its global escapades alone I want to define my life. When I think about how I want to learn gain new skills, languages, and knowledge, I know that I don’t want a life restricted to book-knowledge. It’s all a balancing game, till it comes to the faith it takes to lead this kind of life–then it’s a trust-fall. 

I realize that the life I’m striving to live does not have happiness as the end goal. A few weeks ago I read this article from about Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, who talks about this very thing–that happiness isn’t the best goal in life. His mission is to restore to people their pursuit of meaning rather than happiness and their realization that struggles can be the best and most defining things in our lives. So adventure for me doesn’t invoke pictures of being at the summit of the mountain only, but also of toiling to climb to the top. And it’s not a rebellion thing. It’s a freedom thing–freedom from anxiety but also freedom for others and even freedom from temptation to simply strive for happiness. 

If this all sounds too complicated and convoluted to you, it’s probably either because I’m rambling or because I’m still learning how to pursue this new mantra. I know some of the specifics goals that go into that mantra, such as getting to know my professors more, getting an article in the Crimson White, and working out regularly; but I don’t know all of the specifics yet. I’ll work off of the knowledge that I have only 7 more months of being 19 and being a teenager. It’s amazing to me that the renown theologian, Jonathan Edwards, was only 19 when he penned this mantra, which means that I have inspiration and an example to follow. I’m excited to see how this will affect the rest of this semester and the rest of my time as a teenager.