I suffer from a restlessness. It is both a horrible thing and a wonderful thing at once. I require constant change to feel content. Change, for it to be change, needs to be varied and different. I need to go on great and long adventures. But then I need to settle down and relax. I need a job that constantly challenges and excites me. But then I also need to be able to break away from it every now and then. I like to hike. But then if that’s all I do I become bored with it. I want to learn new things but I don’t want that process to take over the other aspects of my life.
If it weren’t for this restlessness, I would not have climbed Kilimanjaro or learned diving or gone skydiving. If it weren’t for this restlessness, I would not have spent a significant portion of my career as a journalist volunteering my time to help develop the skills of other journalists. If it weren’t for this restlessness, I would not have seen so much in this world and learned from all the people I have met along the way. If it weren’t for this restlessness, I would not have studied for a master’s degree in journalism while taking care of four young children, taking on a full-time job, freelancing internationally, and founding a journalists’ NGO. It is this restlessness that causes me to need to do more, to do better, to do different.
But this restlessness also unsettles me. When I don’t have a plan for my next step, or when I do but there is too long of an interim, I feel empty and lost. It is not enough for me to know that in two months time I’ll be doing something great and exciting. What do I do NOW, is what I need to know. Sometimes I need to check out from the world and just relax. And that is fine. But when I’m done relaxing I need something else. And it can’t be just “normal”. I need to be stimulated. I need to be excited. I need to feel productive.
This morning I woke up with the following image of myself in my mind: I am covered in plastic wrap from head to toe. I cannot breathe. My arms are held tightly by the plastic wrap to my legs. I cannot raise them. I open my mouth and struggle to gasp for air. I contract every muscle of my body in attempt to free my arms enough to attempt to break free.
Whether I manage to break free or not remains to be seen. For now, I am suffocating in a cocoon of plastic wrap.
This will sound ridiculous to the many people who know me. I have managed to do so much with my life. I have great plans for the near future. I have an amazing family life. And this is why I suffer. I do have all that. But I need to do more.
Am I discontent? I don’t think so. I am happy and thankful for all that I have and for all that I have accomplished. But there is an energy inside me that tells me I can do so much more. I need to do so much more.
I suffer from a restlessness. It is a horrible thing and a great thing all at once.
Reading my mind. I dont think restlessness is a sign of discontent or ungratefulness. I think it’s just insatiable curiousity getting the best of us. And perhaps we should let it 🙂
You expressed what I experienced for most of my life. A gnawing restlessness that kept me moving and searching for adventure. It was dark and driven but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Unpredictably I “settled” down a bit. Never thought it would happen, at least not willingly. People who don’t have this …. whatever it is… sickness/gift…. simply cannot understand. But wanderlust/restlessness/adventure seeking is a complex and dark and glorious thing, as all who have it know.