We can run but we can’t hide (Untucked Column #11)

I remember being a kid and playing hide-and-seek with my friends from around the neighborhood. When we were younger, we kept the radius pretty small. As we grew older, we expanded the area and we would hide over a span of several blocks. The more we expanded the range where we could hide, the longer the game would take. Sometimes the person who was the “seeker” would say: “Forget this! I’ll wait until you come out of hiding and try to make it to base.” I learned how to keep snacks in my pockets for such times! I was not going to be “outwaited.” Over time, I found some excellent hiding spots. Rarely was I ever found. I picked the right time to make my move and try to make it to base without being detected and if I was, I did my absolute best to outrun them.

Isn’t this scenario so common and prevalent in our lives? We tuck ourselves away in isolation to not be seen, to not have to deal, to not have to confront a situation, to not face the consequences of our past, to not make a decision and we sit hoping and wishing that we can just wait it out. The thing of it is though, we can run but we cannot truly hide – from ourselves. You can move halfway across the globe, change your hair, take on a new name, learn a different language but you cannot get away from yourself. You figure if you keep moving, you wont have to face yourself. Yes, you can escape your surroundings but you cannot escape yourself. No matter where you go, there you are.

We’ve all had periods of unhappiness and stress in our lives for various and numerous reasons. For me recently, I had to realize that sometimes, the root cause is an issue of contentment. Here’s what that might look like: Maybe, back in high school, you said, “I’ll be happy when I finally graduate.” Then, when graduation day finally comes and goes, you say, “I’ll be happy when I get out of college.” After that, you’re out of college but now you can’t find a job that matches your degree and you tell yourself that you’ll be happy when you land the dream job. You get a job and get your own place—but you’re not making much. That’s when you just know you’ll be happy once you make a little more money. Then you get a raise, and everything seems to be going well, until you realize that you’re lonely—and if that special someone would just come along, you’d finally be happy.

Ever felt like that? We’ve all been there. But for some, the grass is always greener on the other side. At its root, it’s a contentment problem. When you’re not content, you spend your whole life jumping from one thing to another, always hoping the next thing will be the one big thing that makes you happy. And, if that’s the approach, it will never happen. Do you know where the grass is greenest? It’s where you water it.

In a generation filled with opportunity, it’s easy to feel trapped by the routines we’ve created for ourselves. Life can become a series of habits and plans, clocking in and clocking out, always wondering where the time goes. The days are long but the years are short. Yet we know there’s exploring to be done, memories to be made and lessons to be learned.

When we realize we’re stuck in an unfulfilled rut, it can feel like we have no control, spending most of our time wishing we were anywhere but here. Thoughts can easily wander to the exciting experiences and adventures waiting to be embraced.

When life isn’t going as planned, sometimes a little voice starts telling you that it will undoubtedly be better somewhere else. If you’re going to go after your dream life, make sure you’re not just running away from having to deal with something else. Remember that you go with you. If you’re not happy in your skin or if you’re unsettled in your heart and mind, even the most scenic views will not bring you happiness. In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.

The direction of our lives is mostly determined by the voices we respond to. Fear causes us to run FROM something; purpose causes us to run TO something. We are all running but whether it’s from something or to something makes all the difference.

Steve Sauceda