I have somewhat successfully half-assed my way through life.

That is not to say that I haven’t put forth effort in any aspects of it; just that the parts of my life that I have truly expended effort in are the less tangible ones. Really, my friendships and my relationships.

My goal in life was to exist completely stress-free … or as close to that as possible. Basically, I wanted to live life like a Jimmy Buffett song – somewhere sunny, warm, and completely relaxed.

My senior year of high school, we had two phrases to complete, which would accompany our yearbook photo for eternity. The first began with “Dreams of”, the second, “Hopes to”. While some people peppered their quote with mentions of marrying his/her high school sweetheart, others had clear and solid goals. Dreams of going to med school … hopes to become a lawyer. I remember pondering long and hard about what it was that I truly “dreamed of” and “hoped to be”.

Here is what I came up with:
“Dreams of using her $4.25 an hour Pacific Sunwear salary to follow the summer like Pat and Wingnut in ‘Endless Summer II.’ Hopes to get an oceanfront house, married, and two kids to name Summer and Dean.”

There was no career objective in there, just a desire to live the life. Live married on the beach with two towheaded surfrat kids. It sounded about as stress-free as humanly possible.

In the twelve years that have passed since I wrote that, there is a major part of me that thinks that would be a pretty damn good life. It was all I thought I needed then, and probably could pass for all that I need now. I think at that point I vaguely thought I’d be writing novels in my beachfront home – I’m not so sure. All I know is that everything that seems so paramount now was not even on the tip of my thoughts. Career. Money. Relationships. And all of the stress that accompanies those major day-to-day realities.

I wish for a day when I didn’t have to worry if my job can really be a lifelong career. I wish I didn’t have to choose whether I should fill my car with gas, or buy groceries. I wish I didn’t worry that maybe, just maybe, I may never end up married if I don’t eventually make it work with the right person. And just the same … I may never end up with those two surfrat kids (who have been renamed over the last 12 years) if all the other pieces don’t fit. Thinking about all of these “what-ifs” makes my life more stressful than it should possibly be. Who would have thought that attaining the “perfect stress-free life” I envisioned could result in so much unease?

I try to stop to focus on the smaller things. Always looking at the big picture ten steps out makes absolutely nothing seem simple. Everything just feels impossible and out of focus. Then there are the moments when nothing has actually changed, but something so amazing is happening and everything else around me seems to melt away. When I come back down to reality, the bills are still waiting and the future is still questionable … but for that moment, someone or something made everything seem purely blissful.

“Anyway, all I’m saying is that there was this time — maybe it was a day, maybe two days, I can’t remember now — when everything seemed to have come together. And so obviously, it was time to go and screw it all up.”- Slam by Nick Hornby