“It’s a Secret of Adulthood: I can choose what I do, but I can’t choose what I like to do. I can decide not to pursue my interest in perfume, but I can’t make myself develop an interest in chess. One of the sadnesses of a happiness project is recognizing my limitations, the truth about who I really am. But it doesn’t matter who I wish I were. I am Gretchen.” ~Gretchen Rubin
The above quote came from one of Gretchen Rubin’s blog posts on The Happiness Project entitled Why I’m Sometimes Tempted to Fight My New Passion–And Why I’m Embracing It, Instead. In this post she writes about her new-found passion for learning about the sense of smell and why she is embracing and pursuing that passion even though it has no “value” on the surface, even though this passion might not be one that she would logically have chosen as practical for her life.
Gretchen’s Happiness Project is all about discovering what happiness is and how we can develop greater amounts of it in our lives. One of the things she’s found while working on this project is that having a passion (or passions) that we actively pursue is a key component of happiness. However, many of us try to limit our interests to those things which we deem to be acceptable or necessary or practical, and thus we miss out on opportunities for happiness in our lives.
I know I am quite guilty of trying to make my interests conform to things that seem to me to be practical or acceptable to others. I am happiest when I give myself permission to indulge in the things that are truly my passion, regardless of what anyone (including me!) thinks of their worth. For instance, I’ve read three books so far this weekend and am feeling much happier than I have for several weeks as a result because reading is truly one of my passions. Is it practical? In a “productive” or money-making sense? No. Is it something that’s considered “normal” by my peers? No. But it makes me happy.
As wonderful as her entire post is (and I encourage you all to read it and ponder your own passions), the quote I highlighted above was what really caught my attention. I spend an awful lot of my time trying to make myself into the person I wish I was, and in the process, I miss the opportunity to be the person I really am. As she points out, the truth is that I am who I am, and I can’t change that. I can choose not to read, but I can’t make myself like to clean my house. I would love to be a person who enjoys cleaning, but that’s just not me.
I think I just may finally be ready to start accepting my limitations and let go of that person I want to be. That doesn’t mean that I can’t learn new patterns, new habits, or improved ways of doing things. I certainly can do all of those things. It also doesn’t mean (unfortunately) that I will never have to clean my house again. It means that I need to honor and embrace my true passions in life and accept the responsibility for doing necessary tasks that I don’t love without waiting for me to suddenly develop a love for them.
I love that she calls this the “Secret of Adulthood.” Maybe I’m really to take that step into really becoming a full adult. I suspect that, like Gretchen, I will find myself being much happier with spending my energy trying to fully be me than I ever will with trying to earn anyone else’s acceptance (even my own).
It’s amazing that something that sounds so simple (Be me!) can be so very hard to do!
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.