#31: Ambivalence

The other day I was on the phone when one of my best friends asked me if I ever thought I would be happy in one place.

In this case, it was an interesting question and it came from a conversation about changes I’m considering in my life that I’m not ready to tell everyone about just yet. (Stay tuned.)

But the truth is that I have an ambivalent-attachment issue. I am ambivalent-attached to  almost everything. With my family, my friends, guys, schools, careers, decisions – everything. I have an idea of where it comes from but what really matters is how that ambivalence effects me in my every day life.

How is that? Nothing ever feels enough; and when it does, I catch myself looking for more. It’s almost like the security of what is gives me the comfort to go get more.

When I went off to college, Delaware was everything to me. In a matter of months – it became something that held less value because I had it. So when my parents pulled me out I was unbothered. Yeah, I wanted to be there, but sometimes it’s easier when decisions are made for me so I can’t practice my ambivalence to the extent that my instinct tells me to. Eventually, what did I do? I went back. And I’ll tell you, I even thought about going home in that first month but recognized this ambivalence and how it was all in my head. So I finished it out; living in and going to school in Delaware was easily the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life.

In relationships with others, it’s a little more complicated. My ambivalence shows up in my friendships, my family, my more intimate relationships and the one I have with myself.

Someone once told me they never felt they were enough for me.  It’s weird; I was so offended by their statement because I always argued back that they were. Looking back, I probably did make them feel that way. I can guarantee you it wasn’t intentional, but in hindsight – I probably wanted more and subconsciously gave that vibe off in my actions and in my demeanor. I probably didn’t want more from the person, but more out of my feelings. More out of this experience. This is probably why my relationship with this person was so hot and cold. I think we were two people dealing with our equal but separate demons. But I’ll just speak for myself here.

It’s not easy to always feel this way. To feel like there’s more to life than whatever’s in front of you. And when I get comfortable, I set out to make the change. I haven’t decided if I’ll ever find that peace in one person, place or thing, but I guess that’s what happens when you grow up always hearing to never settle, to see the world, to go off and find what makes you, you. It really sticks, it molds your brain, it molds everything you’ve ever set out to do.

When it comes to my family, I love to be around them. I love family parties, family dinners, family events, all of it. I sincerely love being around them all, especially my big giant one. But then there’s always this part of me that wants my independence from them, to go off to somewhere new and find who I am without all of it. There’s the ambivalence there. That I want it, but I want it close enough that I can come back to it if I want.

It gets more complicated with friends because I’d argue that my friends fall into a category of their own. But sometimes the ambivalence comes from me wanting more time with them and more of them, versus me wanting more time with myself. It’s a little different because I think the great thing about our friends is that we pick them. They’re our choice. But sometimes I want to be with my friends all the damn time and other days, weeks, months – I’d much rather be alone.

I quit my job in media, only to think about it last week and wonder if I made the right choice. I realize that it’s simply because I’m comfortable in social work and I’m growing to really become a social worker that knows what they’re talking about, not because I actually want to go back. I know this is my calling and I know this is my talent, but I also know that there are days where I wake up and wonder if my life would have been better if I was in advertising and media still. Again, the ambivalence.

I find myself back and forth in everything, everyone – including myself. You could judge it and call it a lack of stability, sure. But you could also understand that it comes from a real deep insecurity and fear of not living a life that will make me happy. Maybe it is that nothing ever feels enough, maybe it is that nothing ever will be. But I’m trying. I’m trying to find that place where it feels like enough, that person who I wont wonder if there’s more, and that career that will be for me.

I started to wonder if this is where my depression comes from. This internal need to search for more instead of appreciating what’s in front of me. But how do you tell a 23 year-old that they should stay put if they’re not so sure what staying put will bring? How do you tell someone who wants to experience more and feel more that that’s just in their head or that the desire will pass? You can’t. And I sure as hell cannot tell myself that. So I go out and live on my compulsions to do something new or do something more because I’m just not ready to settle down. My ambivalence is there, but so is my desire for more. And I always get my fix somehow or some way.

So do I think I’ll ever be happy in one place? Yes. Because I have been before, and no because I’m not there right now. Maybe not at 23. Maybe not even at 24. But maybe I’m also brave enough to admit that my heart doesn’t settle, and neither does my mind. And when I find that thing or that person or place in my soul that feels like home – I’ll know to stay put.



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