No Turning Back: Even ENFPs Grow Up (Eventually)…

imagesWow, man–I’m thirty-five. I know, I know, to some of you that still sounds so young. I’m sure it’s starting to sound old to some others as well. I just can’t believe how fast it feels like life is slipping away sometimes. Five years from forty. Fifteen years from twenty. That is not the way I see myself at all, nor is this where I pictured myself at this age. Not that I had any other big plans or ideas. I’m far more blessed than I could have imagined. I’m just not as accomplished.

It’s strange watching the years tick away. I’m often haunted by the notion that I’m not living fast enough, not getting enough accomplished. Always waiting and working toward an uncertain future instead of enjoying the now.  I haven’t achieved much. Lots of false career starts. Some very mild success in writing. Brown belt in jiu-jitsu, but not necessarily champion material. An MFA that doesn’t seem to qualify me even for jobs I could probably do in my sleep.

But I have my wife, and I have my words, whatever they mean to anyone besides me. And I have my darkness, which was hard-earned but is something I’d still let go of if I could figure out how. Sometimes I’m fatalistic, and that’s something I expected to outgrow by this point. It feels like sometimes all I can see are the negative things in life, if only because I’m always looking to fix them. Which is stupid. Most of them require someone far smarter and far more talented than me to be fixed.

I guess I didn’t expect to spend so much time in neutral. There was a time I lived in fifth gear, cruising down the highway with very little regard for the destination, just determined to make the journey. Now the thought of that reviles me in some ways. Some days I don’t even want to leave my apartment. Yeah, I know how that sounds. It’s really not meant to be so depressing, though. It’s just not something I ever saw myself feeling.

In a sense, I guess you can say that I still have huge pieces of my youth left, and that’s a blessing. But nobody really explained to me that I’d have such a front row seat to watching it fade off a little at a time.  I don’t know if I expected it to just disappear one day, or what. I just know I don’t want to lose that young, youthful perspective on life, that thirst for new experiences that so defines me. But I am, just like everyone else. I see possibilities everywhere, but now I also recognize how many of them will never exist at all.

I want to spend all of my hours doing the things I love while they’re still so easy to do. Training jiu-jitsu. Having adventures. Writing the best books that I’m capable of writing. Travelling. But also staying home, learning to be disciplined and patient. I was never good at patient. Probably never will be. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

And so on this, my thirty-fifth birthday, it feels like I’m standing on the edge of that next  great adventure, though I can’t even begin to tell you what it will look like.  I’m terrified it will fall apart like so many of the others that came before it. I’m also terrified that it won’t, and I’ll get tangled up into something different than what I’ve imagined, something less, with no way out. But I’m extremely fortunate to be in the position to act, to have agency over my plans, and that’s something I try to keep perspective on every day. I don’t know how my story will end, only that it will, for sure, end at some point.

In the meantime, I hope to find peace as much as prosperity in the coming years.  Probably more, if you want to know the truth. There, now that sounds more like the old me talking. Good to have him back; hopefully he’ll stick around for the future!

2 thoughts on “No Turning Back: Even ENFPs Grow Up (Eventually)…

  1. Happy Birthday, Michael. I really enjoyed this excellent and moving piece of introspective writing!

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