Yesterday on the train I noticed a piece of candy on the floor. I noticed it because I kept hearing something rolling around and I was curious what it was. When we started moving, it would roll backwards, behind me somewhere. When we stopped, it would roll back toward me, and I’d catch a glimpse of it, a little orange sphere, maybe a Gobstopper or something. As we rocketed down the tracks it would go side to side a little bit, sometimes here, sometimes there. It was so small and inconsequential that it was completely at the mercy of the movement of the train. While I sat in my seat and barely noticed much motion, it was propelled all over the place by the slightest shift.
Poor little gobstopper. What if it was trying to get to the front of the car, or to the seat where a cute boy was sitting? What if it really wanted to be near the heater below the right-hand window, or in the seat nearest to the door in order to exit the train quickly? It had no control over where it was going.
Look, I know it sounds silly. I’m aware that a gobstopper doesn’t have a brain and it couldn’t really have been thinking any of these things. But it kind of made me think about how I’m like that little piece of candy sometimes: going about my days, shifting gears as circumstances dictate, not sure what the big picture is.
I’m really good at reacting, at diving in to put out fires, to handle things after something has already happened. Some days I feel like that gobstopper, rolling around, not in charge of my own destiny.
That’s a little dramatic, but it’s true. I want to have a 5-year plan. I want to have a vision. I want to be able to make sure that decisions I make today, actions I take this morning, are part of a larger whole.
To that end, I’ve been meeting with a friend of mine who is conveniently also a life coach for young adults trying to discern their career paths. I’ve always had a really hard time dreaming big, because I tend to get caught in the logisitical weeds. That’s a valuable skill to have a lot of times, and it makes me a great contributor to teams I’ve worked on, but I need to be able to step outside of that and see the forest. Without that, then I can’t be sure that the weeds I’m pulling are the right weeds, the weeds that will lead to fulfillment for me, the weeds that will help me end up in the place I want to be, as the person I want to be.
So I’m zooming out. It’s not easy. It sort of stinks sometimes to see yourself in light of your quirks and flaws. It’s weighty stuff, and it’s not like I’m ever going to completely replace my personality and my preferences with new ones. But I think I can learn how to dream, and I think I can stop being a gobstopper.