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It Can Be Lonely to Go Off Autopilot But Worth It

·443 words·3 mins

Sometimes it seems like it’d be better to go on autopilot. Easier certainly. And a heck of a lot less lonely than questioning the status quo or forcing myself out of my comfort zone.

If I’d stayed on autopilot, I’d still be where I grew up. Still stuck in an iffy marriage, one where there was a lot of emotional distance and a lot of feeling like we’d both settled.

A good enough life.

Good enough for whom? Most people.

There’s almost an arrogance, I think, to questioning that. To standing up and saying, “Well, it’s not good enough for me.”

For deciding you want adventures. Experiences. That you want to see the world. Meet people. Try lots of different things — a lot of them wonderful but some of them unpleasant too.

And it’s not so easy as simply deciding it’s what you want either. Not unless you won the birth lottery and were thrust into money and connections. With that kind of luck, the experiences basically come to you. You almost have to dodge to avoid them. The children of the rich live such charmed lives without even realizing they’re charmed.

No, when you’re a nobody who comes from nowhere (as I am), deciding you want it isn’t enough. You have to find a way to make it happen. And it’s not a single leap, but a near-infinite number of small ones. An exhausting series of moving platforms, with the correct jumps needing to be timed just so. One misstep and it all falls apart.

The whole premise of chasing such a life is wild. Improbable. Ridiculous.

There’s a reason most people settle. It’s easy to fall and get crushed due to the pursuit of ambitions, when you’re a nobody from nowhere with nothing. And certainly no safety net.

It’s sensible to open your arms to good enough. Welcome it in. Learn to love it.

I still believe that. Which is why I’m a little mystified that I find myself thousands of miles from where I grew up. Surrounded by cool people. Always trying new things. And yet I’m still that nobody from nowhere underneath it all.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m not supposed to be here,” I tell a friend. “It feels like a mistake. Like everything about me is unnatural. That I’m fake.” Because I’ve wandered so far from home and arrived here under such unnatural, improbable means.

“No,” my friend says. “You’re not fake. It’s not unnatural. You’re intentional — and you should be proud of that.”

And at the end of the day, I’ve decided it can be lonely to go off autopilot — but worth it.


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